Step 1: Sort
Though usually done well in advance, Schlader shows me how coffee is graded. He explains that all flaws are divided into two categories: primary and secondary. A primary defect (e.g., a "full black" cherry that developed poorly or suffered from disease) rules out a bean, while a secondary defect (e.g., withering, insect infestation, etc.) won't disqualify it from use.
Depending on the number of defects, each batch of beans is given a grade out of 100. Any batch with a score greater than 80 is considered by the industry as "specialty," but Birch accepts no coffee graded below 84. Higher-graded coffee is more expensive, of course, but to Schlader, the quality is worth every penny.