Free stuff is great. What better for a barista than getting the gift of free coffee? Coffee samples are always a pleasant surprise for me to receive, since the cost of buying a retail bag of coffee plus shipping often prohibits me from trying as many new roasteries as I’d like. I always appreciate being given samples.

Unfortunately it seems to be becoming less common for roasteries to offer them. Understandably so, the costs of sending out samples can quickly add up and many see it as not worthwhile. It’s not worthwhile unless they gain valuable feedback or an order.

This links in a lot with my other post Feedback.

We suck at giving feedback. What’s the point of a roastery sending out samples if nobody gets back to them, or if they do give a very basic description of what they thought of it. “Yeah it was really nice, quite chocolatey.” That’s not worth the cost of a stamp for a roastery.

Don’t be one of those places that just sell the samples you receive without giving value back to the roaster.

Although this isn’t theft I personally find it a crappy thing to do, someone covered the cost of sending you coffee so don’t try to make money off it.

Unless they’ve specifically sent enough for you to serve, i.e. a few kilos, then it was intended for you to try out and maybe give to a few customers. You’re unlikely to be able to properly diall-in a retail size bag and have much to sell anyway, so don’t bother. Otherwise you’re giving your customers a bad deal too.

Samples are really valuable for both parties. You get a free chance to try out a new roastery or coffee. Then hopefully you’ll give detailed feedback to the roaster so they get something out of it also.

By detailed feedback I don’t just mean what it tastes like. Tell them how you brewed it, if you cupped it tell the roaster what you cupped it against and how it compared. If you brew it tell them the recipe and your brewing parameters, preferably numbers based if you have a refractometer. Go through some of the recipes you tried and the results compared to what you’d expect with other coffees you work with. This doesn’t take much time, it’s a fair trade.

It may be the case you didn’t like the coffee, this is when your feedback is even more valuable. It can give the roaster a chance to fix a problem that may have been on their end, or they could point out a fault of yours on the brewing side. Either way someone will be looking to improve afterwards.

This way roasters can get a clearer understanding of how their coffee tastes across a variety of equipment, water and generally how people are finding the best way to brew it. Everybody wins in this situation.

Doing this also opens up a dialogue with a roaster, they tend to be pretty knowledgeable and friendly folk that are worth knowing. The more we can communicate with each other the better.





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