What Is Specialty Coffee?

What Is Specialty Coffee?

Have you ever wondered what makes specialty coffee truly special? It's not just about the beans themselves but also the unwavering dedication of the people behind them. Specialty coffee is the result of a collective effort, where everyone involved in the coffee value chain works in harmony to prioritize quality and excellence at every step. Let's explore the journey of specialty coffee and the remarkable individuals who bring it to life.


At the heart of great coffee lies the coffee farmer. Often from families with generations of expertise, these farmers have honed their craft to cultivate the highest quality beans. Carefully grown in specific altitudes and climates, the coffee plants are nurtured for years before yielding their first harvest. Quality, not quantity, is their guiding principle. Only beans free from defects and picked at the perfect ripeness move forward to the next stage. By connecting with quality-focused buyers, these farmers support their communities while ensuring a profitable future for themselves.


Once harvested, the coffee beans are handed over to the discerning palate of the green coffee buyer. Like a sommelier, they possess a refined taste and can expertly evaluate coffee quality through cupping—a methodical process of tasting brewed coffees. By assessing a coffee's score, the green coffee buyer determines if it meets the standards of specialty grade. They curate the offerings, develop tasting notes, and share crucial information with roasters and café staff.


The responsibility then shifts to the coffee roaster, an artisan in their own right. Many roasters undergo extensive training and hold certifications from organizations like the SCA (Specialty Coffee Association). Roasting coffee is an art that demands deep knowledge and experience to achieve specialty-level roast profiles. The roaster meticulously monitors the beans throughout the roasting process, applying scientific principles of heat transfer, thermodynamics, and coffee chemistry. This ensures that the final roasted beans embody the highest standard of quality and flavour.


As the specialty coffee beans reach the retail environment, the journey isn't over just yet. The final custodian of the bean's lifecycle is the barista. Similar to roasters, baristas may hold certifications from the SCA, having dedicated hours to coursework and hands-on training. They possess an array of skills, from operating brewing equipment with precision to understanding the origin and flavour profiles of the coffee beans. The barista's expertise ensures that each bean realizes its full brewing potential, unlocking its true flavours for you to savour in every cup.


Yes, you play a vital role in the specialty coffee story too.

As a consumer, you complete the lifecycle of the specialty coffee bean by actively seeking out and choosing specialty coffee options. When you take the time to discover local coffee bars or roasteries dedicated to quality, or engage in conversations with your barista to learn about the hands and passion behind your cup, you demonstrate a commitment to elevated taste, flavour, and a higher standard of living for everyone involved in the journey.

So, the next time you sip on a delightful cup of specialty coffee, remember the remarkable individuals who brought it to your lips.

Together, we can appreciate and celebrate the artistry, passion, and unwavering commitment that make specialty coffee an exceptional experience.

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