The world of Specialty coffee is a world where every step of the process is focused on producing an exceptionally good cup of joe. This involves farmers and brewers who care about creating coffee that is interesting and unique.
The SCA sets the criteria for classifying a coffee as Speciality, which requires it to score 80 or above on their speciality scale and pass various assessments. This is a very high standard!
The coffee world has a number of standards in place to ensure the quality of our morning cup. Often this involves a whole chain of relationships between the farm, coffee traders, roasters, and baristas.
This is why it is important to know that specialty coffee is more than just your standard run-of-the-mill coffee you would buy from the supermarket. Specialty coffee is a high-end product that has been grown and roasted to specific expectations, ensuring a great-tasting, ethically sourced cup of joe.
Specialty coffee is usually grown at high altitudes in specialized climates that produce unique flavors. It must also pass specific defect categories to achieve its speciality status. This means that there is a higher level of care throughout the entire process, making it more sustainable for the producers as well.
As any coffee lover will tell you, the word ‘Specialty’ implies a higher quality than your run of the mill supermarket coffee. But, it’s more than just that.
Specialty coffee has been scored at least 80 points by a qualified Q Grader (think of them as the coffee equivalent of a wine sommelier). It has passed this rigorous testing, and only then can it be called specialty.
At a high-end cafe, you’ll see the names of the farmers on the walls, hear their stories, and get to know these amazing people. This is not only a great marketing tool, but it’s also what makes this industry so special. The people in it care about sustainability, quality, and cooperation. They want to share their passion with the world.
The quality of Specialty coffee begins with the farmers who carefully cultivate their coffee. They are passionate about upholding their high standards throughout every stage of the supply chain. This includes meticulous care in harvesting, as well as rigorous checks during processing, green storage and roasting.
This allows them to deliver unique flavor profiles that many consumers have not experienced before. These techniques are becoming increasingly popular and exciting for baristas.
These farmers sell their Specialty coffee at a premium to green coffee traders or directly to coffee roasters. They often develop custom roast profiles that enrich and highlight the natural flavors of their beans. They also want to connect their customers with the people who made their coffee. They value transparency, trust and cooperation.
Coffee is a crop that requires a lot of care throughout its entire supply chain. This is especially true for Specialty coffee. In order to be classified as such, it must meet a series of strict criteria including rigorous cupping tests.
The beans are then graded and given an official score by the SCA, with only those that score above 80 considered to be Specialty coffee. They must also undergo a second cupping test once the coffee has arrived at its destination to ensure that it hasn’t deteriorated during transit.
The roasters then use their expertise to ensure that the beans are roasted to perfection, with precise measurements and careful timing to unlock their full flavour potential. This is where the specialty coffee really comes to life.
With so much care going into growing, harvesting, and transporting specialty coffee it’s only right that the same level of attention is given to the brewing process. From espresso to V60 pour-overs, a range of brewing methods are used to highlight the unique qualities of each coffee.
Often baristas will use their knowledge to help you choose the best way to enjoy your cup of coffee. You may hear them banter about adjusting grinds or beans or you could be served something they haven’t tried before to test out the results.
To be classed as a Specialty, a coffee must pass numerous tests from a Q grader that include fragrance/aroma, flavor, aftertaste, balance and sweetness, uniformity, acidity and cleanliness. Any score above 80 means it’s considered Specialty.