WHAT MAKES SPECIALTY COFFEE SPECIAL?
You’ve probably heard of the term ‘specialty coffee' if you are reading this right now or you may have even tasted it.
Many coffee businesses are popping up around the world but most of these businesses are often misunderstood. You may not also know what makes specialty coffee special. So, we are not going to leave you in the dark, we’ll tell you many things you may not understand about this new wave of coffee.
Coffee goes beyond farm names, espresso, latte arts, and manual brewing. The roots go deeper than that. Simply put, specialty coffee is an approach to coffee, fueled by a rich appreciation for quality, and following globally conscious ethics. To truly understand this concept, you’ll need to read the entire blog post.
So, sit down, grab a cup of coffee, not just any kind though, it has to be specialty coffee and read on. We’re eager to introduce to you the ‘future of coffee’.
WHAT IS SPECIALTY COFFEE?
All coffees are categorized into two- commodity and specialty. Commodity coffee is just traded to get the job done. You often have no idea where it is grown, how it affects your environment and it just tastes like ‘coffee’. The commodity game is all about quantity but specialty coffee is all about quality. All coffees are graded on a 100 point scale. For a coffee to be considered ‘specialty’ it must score at least an 80.
Specialty coffee stands as a direct alternative to commodity coffee, it is a series of skilled steps that begins from the farms where coffee is grown. The farmers work hand in hand with the green coffee buyers or roasters who work with the consumer (you or a coffee shop owner).
That means the chain of relationship and traceability enables more conversations from producers to consumers and this creates coffee that continually evolves to be delicious and sustainable.
Farmers are the artisans of specialty coffee. They exercise great skill and care at every step- from cultivation to export. Coffee experts agree that the stages of coffee production following harvest is all about preserving the coffee.
You should know that quality can be negatively affecting during processing, greenhouse storage, roasting, and brewing. So every step that occurs before you get your final cup really matters.
SO, WHO DECIDES WHAT SPECIALTY COFFEE IS?
Some organizations define and oversee how coffee is graded and one of them is the Australian Specialty Coffee Association. It is one of the driving forces behind the Australian specialty coffee industry. ASCA began with just a group of people passionate about specialty coffee at a time when Australian coffee hadn't become as prevalent as it is today.
ASCA is dedicated to the development and promotion of the specialty coffee industry all over Australia. The coffees are assessed based on how they are grown, processed, their fragrance, body, aroma, acidity, and balance. If you brew a cup of specialty coffee, you’ll be able to taste a drink that has multiple aromas and flavors.
WHAT MAKES SPECIALTY COFFEE DIFFERENT?
First, it's the plant itself. Specialty coffee is exclusively made of a family of varieties under the Arabica species. Coffea Arabica is a delicate plant that is prone to diseases and requires specific conditions to grow- rich soil and high altitudes. There are over a hundred varieties within the Arabica family that are grown organically and manually selected. Some of the plants are shorter and bushier to allow easy picking, some have higher yields but all of them do have a unique taste.
Take a moment to think about country wines- made from two grapes in the same species family but with different mouth full flavor and sweetness. Yea that's how coffee is.
Furthermore, one of the requirements for growing Arabica beans is high altitudes: somewhere between 1000 and 1800 meters. All of the sweetness, acidity, and complexity in coffee directly correlate with higher altitudes, which means slower development, cooler temperature, and more time for all the good flavor molecules to form.
This means the plant is farmed on a slope, the farmer knows the soil and weather conditions, and preventive measures are taken to keep the coffee plants from getting too much sun or water as the climate often rapidly changes.
After cultivation and tending, the beans are harvested and processed, both of which are labor-intensive. After the ripe cherries are picked, they are sorted out before they are de-pulped. Poor processing can negatively affect the plant and lead to a lower grade coffee.
OTHER REASONS ARE
SPECIALTY COFFEE SOURCES DIFFERENTLY
Some roasters that are part of the specialty coffee industry (like us) are known to participate in Direct Trade Sourcing. They make deals with the farmers and can secure wages for the farmers and build long-term relationships.
Another good thing about specialty coffee is that the roasters can pick and choose the best coffees from the farms they work with instead of just reading about them from a catalog. This benefits the roasters as well as the farmers.
This is how the mutual benefit thing works most times, f you were a coffee farmer and a roaster came to your farm to buy 40% of your coffee crops at a premium price, you'd happily sell it and give the rest to an exporter to sell for little profit. You wouldn't just want to sell 40% at a premium price- you want to sell 100% next time. So you work harder the next year to improve your practices so you can make more sales when the roaster comes back. You see what we mean and how we go for the best.
With time, the coffee quality gets better as well as the price. The roasters sell better products and the farmers make more money. You also benefit from the long-term relationship as higher quality coffee is produced. Have you ever had coffee that blew your mind because of its quality and flavor?
Have you ever had a cold brew that was refreshing? Well if you haven't, you should definitely try specialty coffee to get all these.
SPECIALTY COFFEE IS ROASTED DIFFERENTLY
Roasters that are part of the coffee industry are careful about roasting. The traditional coffee roasters often burn their coffee beans. The carbony, smoky flavor you may have tasted in other coffees isn't meant to be there. This covers the real delicious flavors of coffee. To cover up bad flavors, some commodity coffee roasters would roast their coffee beans until it is dark which makes them taste bitter and ashy. But things are different now with the coming of specialty coffee.
There is a growing diversity in coffee flavors as roasters learn more and more about how to bring out the best flavors in coffee like- blueberries, fruity, floral, chocolate, and more.
In other words, by roasting carefully, specialty roasters can unlock and bring out the unique flavor that reflects the coffee’s origin. These flavors are meant to be experienced and not burnt away. We the roasters play a major role in developing a rich and balanced flavor of a coffee in the specialty coffee world.
SPECIALTY COFFEE SELLS DIFFERENTLY
We in the specialty coffee industry are transparent. We want you to know where your coffee comes from, we want you to taste their handwork. We want to connect you to the coffee’s origin in a way that has never been done before.
In the specialty coffee world, everyone is accountable, it increases compassion mystically, making the world a better place. This is another way in which specialty coffee is changing the world for the better.
THE SPECIALTY COFFEE INDUSTRY IS CONNECTED
The specialty coffee industry is so connected, we cooperate. We do this because of the future of coffee and many people rely on coffee production, some even depend on it. You as a home brewer or a coffee shop owner can be a part of this connected effort. When you buy a specialty coffee, you jump right on our mission and contribute towards a larger goal.
We hope you saw the common theme, coffee matters to us, crafting experiences matters to us. Perfecting our craft is really important to us. But most important, are the people who buy our coffee and drink it, people who rely on us to give them the best -YOU.
You drive the entire chain, you make the whole experience a win-win situation. You are the friendly customers we love to serve. Specialty coffee is special because it values quality, sustainability, cooperation, and most importantly, people.
SPECIALTY COFFEE BREWING
We know this is the most exciting part because you get to taste the final result of all we’ve discovered. Note that there should be equal amounts of focus on when and how the coffee is grounded, brewed, and how all of these work with the various brewing methods.
Do well to measure everything. If you want consistency, you have to measure correctly. In brewing, one of the ways of measuring is to look at the weight of the coffee and water, and the grind size and consistency of the coffee grounds. This why it is so important:
FIGURING OUT THE RIGHT GRIND SIZE
Different brewing mentions require different grind sizes, a French press requires a coarser grind, an espresso machine, a fine grind, and Turkish coffee, an even finer grind. But coffee making is all experimenting, do that and see what works for you. Do well not to let it go once you hit those sweet spots.
DETERMINING YOUR COFFEE TO WATER RATIO
You may have brewed a cup of coffee that is too concentrated or too weak. Knowing how much water you use, can fix this. Develop a coffee to water that works for you.
PERFECTING THE TIME IN BETWEEN POURS
Coffee goes through different stages of extraction from this initial pour to the extraction. You can use a stopwatch for this. It will help you nail down the timing of each.
If you made it this far, it simply means you enjoyed this post. We can spend hours or even days talking to you about specialty coffee but it's more fun when you discover it yourself.
BUY SPECIALTY COFFEE ONLINE
Are you thinking of where to buy specialty coffee? Wonder no more. You can buy it online. At coffee hero, our mission is to source the world’s best coffee and roast. Our coffees are sourced from different countries like Ethiopia, Peru, Guatemala, etc. Spend over $65 on coffee & get FREE SHIPPING ON YOUR TOTAL ORDER
- Specialty grade coffee
- Coffee that's sourced from the world’s best coffee farms.
- Shipped some hours after it is roasted. When it arrives at your doorstep, it’ll be the freshest coffee that you’ve ever tasted.
Don't start your coffee journey tomorrow, start today!