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My First Experience Buying Auction Coffee

Andrew Pautler

Andrew holding one of the lots from the 2024 Yemen National Coffee Auction

One of my favorite things about Pull & Pour is the incredible opportunity to try some of the best coffees in the world. And while I’ve enjoyed many auction coffees before from other roasters and worked with roasters to purchase auction lots in the past, I had never actually participated in an auction and won a lot myself—until last month.

I don’t buy a lot of green (unroasted) coffee myself, but am always on the lookout for extra special coffees for the special release series of the Pull & Pour Coffee Club. I had the opportunity to try some samples from the National Yemen Coffee Auction and was blown away by their quality and complexity. Yemen coffees are unlike any other origin with this beautiful mix of earthy tobacco and dark fruit—and some of these lots were some of the best Yemen coffees I’d tried.

I knew I wanted to try to win a lot from the auction to share with the club. Coffee auctions can be set up in a variety of ways, but this one was open for 24 hours with the highest bid winning the lot at the end. For some price context, commodity-level green coffee is currently at around $1.90/lb. Most good specialty green coffee goes for somewhere between $6-10/lb. This auction had a base price of $30/lb for each lot with the highest-priced lot selling for $444/lb 🤯.

Going into the auction I had a few lots I was very interested in based on flavor profile, cupping score, and lot size. A few of the lots got too expensive only a few hours into the auction (they ended up selling for $434/lb and $388/lb!). There were a few from my list of samples that were still competitive though, so throughout the day I continued to monitor and bid on them. The auction ended at 3 am my time, so I had to have a game plan before heading to bed and potentially waking up right before the end of the auction to put in the final bids. It came down to two lots I was bidding on and eventually decided they were both good enough and the price worthwhile to buy both. Lot 150 and Lot 136 will both be coming to the coffee club as special releases in the coming months (Lot 150 dropping in just over a week). (If you aren’t already part of the free coffee club, be sure to join to have a chance to pick them up!)

Why Coffee Auctions Matter

Coffee auctions, like this National Yemen Coffee Auction, are not only a great way to expose excellent coffee, it also is a great way to elevate farmers who otherwise would have a hard time selling their coffee directly to roasters around the world. This auction in particular is one of the most direct ways to connect Yemeni coffee producers with coffee consumers around the world. 100% of the profit goes back to the producer & efforts to grow the coffee sector in Yemen. This is one of the main reasons to support these auctions in my opinion (in addition to receiving some of the best coffee the world has to offer). I ended up being the only US company to purchase a lot (the rest going mostly to Asia and the Middle East). I would love for more US roasters to participate in these auctions to bring these incredible coffees to the United States specialty audience.

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