Coffee seasonality is a curious bird. Yes: as a fruit, coffee is fresher at certain times of the year. But keeping score can be hard. Between what's arriving to roasters now, countries with multiple harvest seasons, and the time it takes coffee to travel from its country of origin to the roaster, it can be hard to know what's freshest. We've rounded up a few autumn-appropriate coffees in season now that represent the cream of the current crop. (Cream is, of course, optional, though.)
Colombia Finca Cristales from Sightglass Coffee
While Central American coffee will slowly begin to disappear from seasonal menus in the coming months, many offerings remain fresh and exciting to roasters and drinkers. For something autumn-friendly, San Francisco-based Sightglass roaster Gabe Boscana recommends their Finca Cristales from Colombia: viscous, chocolatey and full of tangy fruit notes.
Guatemala Itzamna from Intelligentsia Coffee
Bicoastal roaster (Lake Michigan has a coast, okay?) Intelligentsia is considered a pioneer of the movement to raise consciousness about coffee seasonality. Their "In Season" slogan and stickers bravely elevate certain of their coffees above others—though it's not quite clear how long they classify "in season" to be, those clever marketers that they are. Continuing with Latin America, try this coffee from the Palencia region of Guatemala, whose early-year harvests ship throughout the summer and continue to deliver sweet, dark fruity flavors into fall.
Nicaragua Santa Teresa from Cafe Grumpy
Nicaraguan coffees ship for most of the beginning of a calendar year, and many delicious options from this celebrated region are continuing to roll in. Cafe Grumpy's proud of their Santa Teresa, whose mellow and buttery sweetness harmonizes with mandarin orange tones. Look out for a Guatemalan coffee to follow fast on this one's heels as Latin American coffees continue to sparkle.
Kenya Gaturiri from MadCap Coffee
African coffees that landed on US shores this summer remain a wonderful autumn standby on many coffee menus—seasonally appropriate if not the newest possible (though multiple harvest and shipment seasons from East Africa understandably confuse). Madcap in Grand Rapids is set to release their first ever Kenyan offering soon, a complex Gaturiri with high acidity and tart apple flavors. Madcap's Colin Whitcomb evokes it thusly: "With flavors of drying flowers and fresh apple, how much more fall can you get? the piquant acidity and lush character reminds me of many fall activities when i was younger." Look for the roaster to move, along with others, towards South American offerings (Whitcomb boasts of an especially good Peruvian coffee) as winter takes hold in northern climes.
About the author: Liz Clayton drinks, photographs, and writes about coffee and tea all over the world, though she pretends to live in Brooklyn, New York. She is the creator of Nice Coffee Time, a book of photographs of the best coffee in the world, published by Presspop, and is the New York City correspondent for Sprudge.com.