Spice Quality Matters

Spice Quality Matters

Feb 26, 2024Eshun Mott

Why should you buy high-quality spices online when you can seemingly buy a packet of spices anywhere groceries are sold? Spices are not created equal, and like so many things, you get what you pay for. Everything from the plant varietal, the conditions spices were harvested and dried in, how the harvest was cared for, packaged, shipped and stored impacts the flavour and aroma of a spice, which in turn affects the flavour of whatever you’re cooking with those spices. But there is also another level at which your spice choice makes an impact, and that’s on the global, social and environmental fronts. Companies like Diaspora Co, Burlap and Barrel, and Épices de Cru are leading the charge to create change in the spice industry itself, offering products that are not only superior in quality but also ethically sourced and sustainably produced.


The Difference High-Quality Spices Make:

  • Enhanced Flavour and Aroma: High-quality spices are fresher, often harvested in small batches and immediately processed to preserve their natural oils, which are responsible for their vibrant aromas and potent, robust flavours. This freshness adds a depth and complexity to your dishes that supermarket spices often can't match, and a more flavourful spice often means using a bit less to achieve your desired result. 
  • Ethical Sourcing: Companies like Diaspora Co are committed to ethical sourcing, ensuring that farmers are paid fair wages and work under favourable conditions. This not only supports farming communities but also encourages sustainable agricultural practices.
  • Sustainability: Burlap and Barrel is known for its direct trade model, which not only ensures the quality of the spices but also promotes sustainability by reducing the number of intermediaries, leading to less waste and lower carbon emissions.
  • Unique Varieties: High-quality spice companies often offer unique varieties that are rarely found in regular stores. Épices de Cru, for example, sources rare spices from around the world, providing home cooks with access to flavours that can make their dishes truly stand out.


Spotlight on Pioneers: Diaspora Co, Burlap and Barrel, and Épices de Cru:

  • Diaspora Co prides itself on revolutionizing the spice trade, focusing on high-quality Indian spices such as single-origin turmeric and cardamom and spice blends like garam masala, tandoori masala and chai masala.. By forming direct partnerships with farmers in India, they ensure that their products are not only of the highest quality but also socially responsible.
  • Burlap and Barrel sources unique and heirloom varieties of spices directly from farmers in over a dozen countries. Their model bypasses traditional supply chains, providing fresher products while empowering farmers through better compensation and recognition.
  • Épices de Cru offers a curated collection of spices and blends from around the globe. Founded by a family with a passion for travel and culinary exploration, they emphasize the story behind each spice, bringing a touch of history and culture to your kitchen.


One last consideration with buying spices is whether to buy whole or ground. While ground spices are super convenient and great for things you use frequently, there's no question that grinding whole spices gives you the freshest possible experience of a spice. You can use a mortar and pestle for this or an old school coffee grinder (if you are planning to go back and forth between coffee and spices with the same device you can clean the grinder of oils by grinding up a small piece of bread and wiping with a damp paper towel). There's also a hack of using an immersion blender turned upside down. Just place a small quantity of spice by the blades, cover the head with a plastic bag and twist the bag around the handle to "seal" (making sure the plastic is nowhere near the blades) and process until fine.

Once you’ve used premium spices it’s hard to go back. Taste them side by side with whatever spices you usually buy and the difference is immediately clear. While it might be tempting to save a few dollars on grocery store spices, the investment in high-quality spices from companies like Diaspora Co, Burlap and Barrel, and Épices de Cru pays off not just in the deliciousness of the meals you'll be making, but also in the ethical and sustainable practices you'll be supporting. So next time you're stocking up your spice cabinet, vote with your dollars, and choose both the spices and the spice trade you'd like to support. 

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