What is specialty coffee?
Think of it as the coffee industry's equivalent to fine wine, craft beer, or artisan chocolate. It is a product crafted with care that focuses on quality, taste, distinctiveness and relationships.
Speciality coffee refers to the whole process of making coffee, from the farm, to the roastery, to the coffee shop:
At the farm and origin
Coffee farmers who produce specialty grade coffee focus on quality over quantity. Coffee comes from a plant that produces a fruit, called a cherry. The coffee cherries are literally hand-picked during harvest so only those at their optimal ripeness and free of defects are picked. Seeds
are then squeezed out from the cherry to produce a green coffee bean - there a three main different types of processes for this: washed, natural and honey, and these processes will also have an impact on how the coffee beans eventually taste. Throughout these processes there is selection of the best coffee beans, so every step of coffee production is labour intensive to produce the best results.
Once farmers have their final product ready to sell, the beans are evaluated by certified people to determine if they are of speciality grade (score of 80 and above on a 100-point scale by Specialty Coffee Association).
Through cupping, these specialists also identify the taste and flavours present in the coffee beans, which is passed onto the roaster.
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