Q&A with Dustin Ryan Yu, Director of Coffee at This Coffee Co.
Dustin Ryan Yu is the Director of Coffee and Green Buyer at The Roasters Pack’s sister coffee roastery, This Coffee Co. We caught up with Dustin to learn more about why he sourced this coffee, what he looks for when sourcing coffee and how he got into the coffee industry.
- Why did you choose to source this coffee?
We value both good quality coffee and also relationships with our green coffee partners, from grower to importer. Our importer Crop To Cup sourced this coffee, and have been working with Iyenga FCS since 2017, doing incredibly transparent work at origins. This coffee was truly one of the most delicious Tanzanian coffees we’ve tasted this year
- What do you look for when sourcing coffee?
I’m always curious about what and how coffees can change a coffee enthusiast’s mind about what they’re expecting in the coffee.
When sourcing from a seemingly infinite pool of options, I do enjoy looking for a few specific things. For example, the chosen coffee must reflect my personal values as well as the company’s values. Sometimes it is not the perfect fit, but it must first and foremost have a positive impact on the producer, cooperative, or washing station. Of course, the quality of the coffee matters, but sometimes, relationship-based coffee or coffee that impacts producers directly can take priority. A balance between all these things is important to me, and it’s certainly also about the final coffee drinker, and what they might enjoy tasting or learning about.
- What initially got you interested in sourcing coffee? How did you start?
Sourcing coffee is a great privilege and can look different depending on your role. I first got interested in coffee after I fell down the rabbit hole of specialty coffee–I realized I was paying way too much for terrible-tasting coffee, and started to improve my “coffee game” at home. I started working in coffee and learning more about the different aspects of coffee, and a year later I received my Q Grader certification, continuing on to source coffee for an importer.
I learned that there were different approaches to sourcing, and I found out that what motivated me was the coffee producer’s story and the importance of relationships. For me, this could be a relationship with an importer, all the way down to a small producer or coffee grower. Many people stress that the coffee
quality is important, but the relationship, story, and whether a producer makes enough money from selling green coffee to you are equally important.
- What is your process for sourcing coffee?
I am still somewhat new to sourcing coffee as I’ve been doing this for just a few years now. But one thing I acknowledge is that importers play key roles. It is quite difficult to make truly direct trading possible, as importers do take on many responsibilities beyond being just a middleperson.
When sourcing, I like to calibrate my palate with the person who sells green coffee to us. The purpose of this is to provide more certainty that we are speaking the same language in a sense–that we have aligned or similar values in coffee sourcing, in order for us to more effectively choose the right coffee(s).
It is very common for buyers to taste way too many samples from importers, only to find out something is misaligned. The coffee could be out of our budget, lack traceability, or simply taste completely different from what they described. Once a good fit is established, tasting coffees is the next step, and then eventually all the details are finalized to make it all happen, with the coffee ending up on your countertop!
Coffees featured in Issue #10
In the Classic Pack
This is Tanzania
•This washed Tanzanian was roasted to round off its acidic edges and fit the profile of The Classic Pack. It has tasting notes of black plum, dark chocolate and caramel.
In the Espresso Pack
This is Tanzanian
•This washed Tanzanian was roasted to enhance its inherent bright and fruity flavours. It has tasting notes of dried pineapple, honey and brown sugar.