Specialty coffee has seen a completely different life cycle than your average, dull cup of joe. This is no marketing term, it’s a title well deserved.
The quality of these coffees shine in the cup, delivering a much more enjoyable experience than that stale, pre-packed coffee on your grocery stores’ shelf. From the latte lovers of the world, to the early morning espresso sippers, and the serious, dark, black coffee drinkers – specialty coffee is quickly becoming everyone’s first choice.
Specialty coffee starts at the farm. Where producers harvest coffee that’s been cared for, often on farms that have been passed down for generations. They are usually located at higher altitudes and have climates that encourage strong, healthy coffee trees.
The farmers know that the more love and attention the coffee trees receive, the better the fruit.
Specialty coffee producers are devoted to quality, not quantity. They pick ripe coffee cherries and process them in ways that protect the innate nature and potential of the coffee at origin. Coffee processing occurs in many different ways, each one (wet process, natural, honey process, etc) delivers its’ own unique qualities in the cup. Processors take time to track and sort coffees so anxiously awaiting buyers know what they’re getting. Likewise, specialty coffee roasters are dedicated to knowing where our coffee comes from; down to the farm or estate.
After processing, the green un-roasted coffee will get thoroughly analyzed by buyers and graders. They will examine the coffee, account for defects, and a panel of highly skilled tasters will cup numerous samples of the coffee after roasting. These coffee graders are looking to identify attributes of the coffee such as the coffees’ origin, certification, cupping score, size/grade/appearance, and descriptive profile. They log all of this information and make it available for us roasters.Specialty coffee has been defined by achieving a score of 80 or higher on a 100-point scale, with little to no defects. Today, that definition has expanded to focus more on the attributes that a coffee displays that make it more valuable.
After green grading, we get to roast the coffee! Specialty coffee roasters aren’t just looking to roast the coffee into brown crunchy beans. We are managing our roasts, using knowledge and skill to craft the coffee into a special, distinct cup. We control heat application, timing, and air flow to create a “recipe” or roast profile for each coffee that will allow the flavors and qualities of the coffee to shine; doing justice to the coffee’s origin. Specialty coffees have varying and vast potential, and it is our job as the roaster to unlock it.
Now you get to make a cup of coffee! You can brew your coffee in many ways- espresso, drip, french press, the options are almost endless. The water used, extraction, and grind all play important roles in what your final beverage tastes like.
Specialty coffee will almost certainly come out of an automatic drip machine tasting better than a burnt, stale commodity coffee. It has a way of inspiring coffee drinkers to refine their brewing methods and to switch to fresh ground.
You, too, are an artist of the craft. And most importantly, you should brew coffees in ways that you enjoy.
To appreciate what makes a coffee special, it is important that we understand each person’s contribution in the coffee’s journey, and we respect their efforts to deliver an exceptional product.
A healthier cup for everyone means we place more importance on the sustainability of growing and shipping coffees. And we do justice to the qualities of the coffee with skilled roasting and brewing.
Specialty coffee for all!
Craft-made, specialty products not only support our community and fellow humans, they also bring value to our lives in more ways than one. They help bring us back to our roots. Making craft products is something that the people involved genuinely enjoy doing, and sharing! Rightfully so, because they inspire more creativity and enhance the lives of everyone involved.