Brendan: The Fastest Bean Sorter in Bermondsey

Posted on Posted in Behind the scenes, Tidbits

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The coffee you get in the post has to jump through many hoops before it passes our Coffee Team’s quality tests.

You all know about Will and his trips out to places like Brazil and Ethiopia to meet and trade directly with the farmers, but less is known about the work our Coffee Team does here at Pact HQ.

For every coffee you see on our Coffee Menu, the Coffee Team will have scrutinised the coffee at origin then reviewed at least two separate samples at Pact HQ.


In this video Brendan is going through a sample bag of green coffee sent to us by an Ethiopian coffee-grower Will met in January. The farm itself can be found in Limu and had monkeys larking about on it. We absolutely love the coffee Brendan’s sorting here, and if all goes to plan it’ll be on the menu later this year.

Brendad Pact Coffee TeamWhat’s Brendan looking for?

When he sorts through the green coffee beans, there are loads of things Brendan is looking for. There are two different types of defects:

Category A – These major defects include things like rotten beans, insect damage and soured beans.

Category B – Less serious issues like chipped or cracked beans and less serious variations of Category A defects.

If there is one ‘A’ defect in a batch of green coffee, the coffee isn’t up to our standard; likewise if there are 5 ‘B’ defects, we would send it back.

Defects can be as subtle as the picture below, where the bean is slightly under developed.

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Or they can be as obvious as the little black holes see on the beans below.

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These little black holes are from the Coffee Borer Beetle, a small critter that can sometimes enter a coffee bean.

This isn’t nearly as serious as it sounds, as they are completely gone by the time the coffee gets to the green bean stage. And that’s before it’s been roasted at temperatures exceeding 180°C.

That said, too many little holes in too many beans is a warning sign that perhaps the farm’s practices aren’t up to scratch.

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Because we cherrypick (pun intended) the farms we work with, the quality of their beans tends to be very high. So the majority of the sample bags we receive pass these tests with flying colours. It’s a meticulous task, and very time intensive, but it ensures that you get the very best coffee. It also safeguards the link between the price we pay and the quality of the coffee the farmers provide.

That way, our relationships stay transparent and everyone gets a good deal.

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