What is Specialty Coffee - What makes it so unique?

What is Specialty Coffee - What makes it so unique?

If you like to have a good cup of coffee, you probably have heard about a term “specialty coffee”. But have you ever wondered what is specialty coffee? And why it became so popular? To answer these questions, you need to get to know the definition of specialty coffee. Read further to understand the phenomenon of specialty coffee.

Specialty coffee – definition

The term ‘specialty coffee’ has its origin in 1974, and it is related to coffee sourced from individual farms, which guarantee the best coffee bean quality. However, the definition is wider, and that it why it refers to the scale used by the Specialty Coffee Association. A coffee that received precisely or above 80 points (on the 100-point scale) is considered as specialty. However, it needs to fulfil the requirements of a “Q-Grader”. It is a qualified ‘coffee sommelier’ who defines, whether the coffee is high-quality or not. In order to measure the quality of coffee, the Q-Grader uses a “Brazilian Cupping method”. The amount of both coffee and water are carefully measured (in several cups), and the expert is slurping and smelling each beverage. It is important that it must be done in hard-and-fast periods of time. It is crucial to examine coffee aromas and flavor notes. Coffees are graded between 0 and 100 points – a score of 80 is enough. However, there is also an assessment of the raw beans, where a 350g sample is checked for defects. These defects are defined by the SCA and the speciality coffee must also meet these requirements.

What is specialty coffee? The beginning

There is no wonder that more and more people are interested in brewing or drinking specialty coffee. Definition casts the light on the essence of a matter, however it is worth to know about it something more. It is possible to enjoy a cup of specialty coffee thanks to the coffee producers who usually select carefully coffee cherries for years. A lot depends on the climate where coffee grows, however it is not the only factor that makes its quality so high. Any buyer who wants to invest in such coffee should know, the price is higher than from an average coffee farmer. The reason is simple, though – you pay for quality, not for the quantity. Keep in mind that if you decide to buy coffee from such a place, you will not only the highest-quality product, but also support small family businesses and communities. You should pay attention to details – collect information about coffee, so you can pass it along to the coffee roaster.

Specialty coffee – definition is not the most important

Even though you need to know what specialty coffee is, there are other factors that make the specialty coffee so special as well. Coffee roasters, especially those certified, were trained to learn skills they need to roast specialty coffee. Besides skills, the detailed knowledge and experience are the key here. A coffee roaster must know what chemical and physical processes are going on during every stage of coffee roasting. The chemistry knowledge can really help with understanding the whole roasting process, which leads to producing the top-notch quality coffee beans.

When the coffee is freshly roasted, it is time to brew it. Anyone who would like to prepare specialty coffee must pay attention to details, if he or she wants to achieve more than 80 points on the SCA scale. Hours of training are crucial to develop skills and, again, knowledge about coffee brewing. Numerous courses, trainings, and workshop can really help to learn about coffee origins, flavor profiles, different brewing methods or use of equipment. The barista is responsible for the results that customers are going to rate.

Specialty coffee – the role of customers

All the steps, from harvesting coffee cherries to brewing ready product, are made for customers. They are the best judges in the end – the more customers come to your coffee shop, the better coffee you make. Those who are experienced specialty coffee drinkers know, which cup of coffee was brewed right, and which is lacking of intriguing flavors. If you want to notice tiny differences in coffee profiles, you need to have a passion that is called coffee drinking.