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Chronicles of a Coffee Aficionado Series: Cafe Kreyol

"Coffee with impact" is not to be confused with the level of caffeine kick from your morning cup of joe. We are all familiar, to a degree, of the social and economical asymmetries between the coffee growing communities and the consuming markets  - so most coffee brands in the world today tag some type of feel good claim - in many cases with little actual commitment. There is a difference between talking the talk and walking the talk; and there is a company that goes far and wide within the value chain that it may do well to redefine what "impact" should actually mean in this beautiful industry. Meet Café Kreyol - 2023 Roast Magazine's Macro Roaster of the Year
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A company based on science and people

Joey Stazzone is the President (and Chief Coffee Hunter) of Cafe Kreyol. In 2012 Joey Stazzone took his experience with chemistry, cross breeding, and backyard botany, and began working in developing countries with the goal of creating sustainable employment, through specialty coffee. 

After more than a decade of hands-on experience working with producers, fermentations and post harvest processing, Cafe Kreyol was awarded Roast Magazine's 2023 Macro Roaster of the year. It has certainly been a culmination of Stazzone's years of consulting to hundreds of producers, conducting experiments on coffee fermentations, pH testing, and post harvest processing, in order to help coffee communities around the world maximize their potential and develop unique coffee experiences.

Tell us about the process of coffee buying, feels like its centered on the promise of a potentially good  coffee, but how can you be 100% sure that a green coffee will taste good? I suppose it’s like  finding diamond in the rough?

Stazzone: "It's actually much more like finding a coal mine, and compressing the coal yourself (and with other miners) into a diamond. Specialty coffee association always says "specialty coffee doesn't just happen", and I can't stress enough how accurate that statement is. While we can never be 100% sure that the green coffee we purchase is going to taste the way we want it to when it arrives in the United States, we can certainly put a lot of effort into the processing, and create strict quality control measures with trusted partners to ensure standards are met."

Tell us more about what you think freshness should be all about in your line of work and also share what makes Kreyol unique in that regard?

Stazzone: "This is a really interesting question, because there are so many different degrees of where the coffee could be fresh, based on any and all of the following periods

- Based on the time elapsed between harvest/process and roasting date
- Between the time of roast and the time of use
- Between the time of grinding for preparation and the moment of brewing the cup

All of these impact the "freshness" of the coffee, but as a direct trade green coffee importer, I will address the first factor related to freshness in green coffee procurement.

Generally speaking, green coffee is good for about a year (more or less). After that, there's an industry term for that green coffee called “past crop”. Green coffee, as it ages, goes through a slow process of diffusion, losing its sweetness, acidity, and flavor over time. In reality, some green coffees might only taste fresh for 7 months, and some might maintain fresh taste for up to 2 years. The density of the coffee seed, the storage practices, and the processing period are all factors in the longevity of this unroasted coffee seed. 

Our company is actually launching a study alongside professors at University of Arizona, where we aim to study the cell wall structure of coffee seeds, some of which have been stored for a reposo or resting period, at origin for an additional 3 months after harvest. This study aims to find out if this additional resting period, at high altitudes and stable moisture levels, could solidify cell wall structure, slowing down diffusion and extending the longevity of green coffee seeds."

How do you approach freshness? Is there a certain standard that you keep for all coffees or is it origin / farmer specific?

Stazzone: "I'm going to tackle this from a coffee roasters angle this time! When coffee is roasted fresh, it doesn’t have an expiration date, however there is absolutely a window of the best dates for an optimal sensory experience. 

It has been widely believed that the freshest coffee off of the roast is the best. Last year, our company completed a study, which was featured in roast magazine, on the CO2 off gassing of coffee post roast, and how that impacts sensory perception.

In short, the CO2 quantity coming off of roasted coffee does vary based on roasted date, processing method, being density, degree of roast, and even the speed of roast. This CO2 impacts our ability to do quality assessments, and disrupts acidity and flavor attributes. Our study found that over 95% of coffees were best after more than a day of post roast “resting time”, and even 50% of coffees were best after 8 days of post roast “resting time”. What’s really crazy was that 5% of the coffees we studied were actually best after 21 days of post roasting resting.

With specific coffees (that we know need longer off of the roast before they are optimal), we typically recommend those appropriate times to our Consumers, Home roasters, and Commercial Roasters that we work with.

Each coffee also has a best buy date, which is like a threshold for the coffee not remaining optimal. That date could be anywhere from 2 months after roast, to 4 months later. While coffee itself does not expire, this optimal window is key for each consumer to maintain the highest level of sensory experience.

At Cafe Kreyol, we roast our coffee fresh to order, and ship out the following business day. This gets it in customer's hands within a couple days of the roast, and leaves the rest up to them to decide when they would like to grind, and consume the coffee. "

Most consumers don’t even understand how blends work – is there a direct impact if you deal with different freshness levels?

Stazzone: "This is an interesting question that we have not played around with enough for drip coffee, mostly because we don’t have blends that currently contain roasted coffees, that we have found to need higher than normal resting times. However, we have experienced a sensory disruption due to co2 for over 20 days post roast on at least a few coffees in the past. If one of these were to be a blend component, and it was blended with coffee that became optimal on day 2, there may be a shorter window for the consumer to obtain that optimal experience. 

Espresso is another story: It is still disrupted by co2, but not only for the same reasons as drip brewing. While both coffees might be tainted with a sour or metallic taste due to excessive co2 from a roast being too fresh, the espresso brewing method is also subject to that co2 release repelling water that is meant to perfectly extract the grounds. While this can also impact flavor and other sensory attributes, its far more likely that you will need to use more coffee in order to achieve the same results, or that your grounds will experience an inconsistent extraction. Due to these differences in espresso brewing, it is best that consumers wait seven to ten days after coffee has been roasted before pulling shots. This will lead to a cleaner and sweeter cup, that is more consistent and uniform."

Are there specific origins that are trickier to source from, that make things more challenging for you to maintain your level of freshness standards?

Stazzone: "There are many areas where humidity fluctuations , lack of accessible roads, or stable storage facilities create freshness issues. 

When dried, coffee seeds should be stabilized at a moisture level of 10-12%, according to SCA (Specialty Coffee Association). Water activity, which is the movement of the moisture levels up and down over time, due primarily to the humidity in the air during storage, is not meant to be higher than 0.70aw.

Here's an example I recall: in Amazonia, in the Apolo region of Bolivia, there are many communities that are just not accessible enough to use the main storage facilities in the main town. So, deep in the region, the coffee from these coffee growing communities has an increased water activity. This makes the coffee prone to mycotoxins, mold, and generally poor quality flavor. Instead of finding a less risky growing community, Cafe Kreyol, decided to work with Wildlife Conservation Society, and the producers, to create new dedicated storage facilities in each community, allowing the producers to literally “weather the storm” until the roads become passable again. 

This is just one example. We have amazing partners all over the world, and when you are involved in long term direct trade relationships- you become better at problem solving and putting in the work that it takes to make specialty coffee."

About Joey Stazzone and Cafe Kreyol

Joey Stazzone is the President (and Chief Coffee Hunter) of Cafe Kreyol. 

In 2012 Stazzone took his experience with chemistry, cross breeding, and backyard botany, and began working in developing countries with the goal of creating sustainable employment, through specialty coffee. Through a decade of hands-on experience working with producers, he has become an expert in fermentations and post harvest processing. Stazzone has been a licensed Q Grader since 2015, and became a Coffee Quality Institute (CQI) Educator on Quality Evaluation in 2022. 

He has been on the international jury for the Bolivia Quality Cup Presidential Tournament 4 times, and an international judge in the Cup of Excellence. Stazzone has given dozens of lectures on Direct and Transparent Trading as well as Fermentations and Post Harvest Processing. 

Most recently his company was awarded "2023 Macro Roaster of the Year" by Roast Magazine. 

Through his work at Cafe Kreyol, he provides consulting to hundreds of producers a year, conducting experiments on coffee fermentations, pH testing, and post harvest processing, in order to help them develop their best possible option. 

Recently his company completed a scientific study on post roast resting times, and the impact on sensory evaluation which can be found at You can learn more about Stazzone and his backstory before coffee by watching this short documentary (

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