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New processing, new normal, new prices!

Koji-fermented coffees – the next innovation in speciality..
First seen in 2019 Koji-fermented coffees have created a buzz of exitement for consumers and industry professionals…

I was once struck by the similarity in smell and taste of a macerated natural El Salvador to the Hoisin sauce I’d had the night before with some crispy duck. Fast forward a couple of years and the connection has been well and truly made by bioscientist Koichi Higuchi. Koji coffee involves applying Koji spores to green coffee beans and leaving them to ferment for several days, just as the Japanese have done with other fermented foods for thousands of years. Think Miso or Kombucha and you’re on the right track.

The resulting roasted coffees show a milder flavour when more developed with lighter roasts offering a cleaner acidity. The trick is to do with utilising more of the natural sugars in the bean, unlocking more potential for sweetness.

There doesn’t seem to be too drastic an effect on the overall flavours and aromas, but a marked increase in cup score of between 2-5 points. Could we see Koji spore use more widely adopted with speciality producers?

Market consilidation continues at high rates.

Whilst Coca-Cola’s acquisition of Costa Coffee in 2018 was widely reported and other large corporate deals such as Nestle buying a controlling share in California based Blue Bottle Coffee make headlines, there is also consolidation of small and medium sized roasters and distributors and this is something that is expected to continue and even accelerate as the true effects of Covid on the economy begin to bite in the first quarter of 2022.

Price rises….

The rising cost of coffee has been driven by numerous factors but the overarching issue is a shortfall in Brazilian production. Combine this with sudden high demand, and logistical problems at ports all over the world and inevitably the wholesale cost has gone up. Inflation at the domestic level also has its part to play and consumers must expect to part with a few more pence for their brews.

Blends are back with a bang!

Blends have had a bit of a rough ride in recent years with speciality coffee shunning them in favour of single origin and estate coffees. It is true that a blend can be a combination of coffees designed to get a collectively improved flavour and reduce costs, but, as with a fine St Emilion, if the quality of the constituent parts is high then surely a blend can be equally high quality. 

This way of thinking is appearing in the speciality community and we expect to see more acceptance of blends going forward. 


All in all we expect a challenging but rewarding year with plenty of change and plenty of opportunity. More, better coffee will be drunk and more, better coffee will be roasted. Lets hope 2022 is the beginning of the end of the effects of the pandemic on all hospitality as we look forward to a return to stability and prosperity in the wider sector. 

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