What puts the "Special" in Specialty Coffee?
For coffee to be considered specialty it must meet many high standards of processing and preparation. It is meticulously graded, roasted, and verified to ensure these standards are met, but the question remains: What puts the "special" in specialty coffee?
It's important to recognize every process taken when considering how to create a cuppa' specialty coffee. According to the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA), "This is not the work of only one person in the lifecycle of a coffee bean; specialty can only occur when all of those involved in the coffee value chain work in harmony and maintain a keen focus on standards and excellence from start to finish."
So, where does it all begin?
Great coffee starts with great farmers. Those who produce specialty beans have perfected their process of growing years before their first harvest. They are then picked at the peak of ripeness and studied for any defects. Following these standards ensures the producers who dedicate their lives to perfecting this process are compensated fairly, helping to better their farms, families and communities around the globe.
All beans must then be tested (this process is called "cupping") by a certified Q grader for any defects or inconsistencies. Too many defects in a sample of green coffee can lead to disqualification of the specialty status. For coffee to pass the "specialty" test, all Arabica beans must be graded 80+ points out of 100.
Roasted To Perfection
Specific origins contain their own unique aroma and flavor profiles. When roasting these beans it is vital to follow very specific steps to ensure these qualities stay intact and the coffee can remain specialty. The proper scientific principles of heat transfer, thermodynamics, and coffee chemistry must be applied and closely monitored.
Now that the beans have passed their tests, the final step to completing your specialty cuppa' coffee is the method of properly brewing it. The SCA states, "If the specialty bean is not brewed properly it is possible that its true flavor potential could be lost." Staying educated on the best brewing methods for your coffee of choice is imperative to ensure the flavors and aromas you enjoy stay intact.
So, what exactly puts the "special" in specialty coffee? YOU do. Yes, you play the one of the most crucial roles in specialty coffee. When you actively choose specialty coffee options you choose to demonstrate a higher standard of taste and a better standard of living for every role that was played in the production and creation of your coffee.
We all thank you for your support. Happy sipping!