About specialty coffee


You may have come across the term specialty coffee before. Maybe you know or have an idea where it can be bought. We went in-depth and tried to answer the following questions: What is specialty coffee? And how is it different from coffees commonly available in stores?


What is a specialty coffee?
Specialty coffee is made from the highest quality coffee beans, usually Arabica. Many factors contribute to the quality of the beans. The quality of the beans is mostly influenced by geographical and climatic conditions. The nutrient content of the soil and the weather strongly impact the flavour
profile of the coffee. The way the beans are harvested and processed is also important. In the case of high-quality coffees, the fruit of the coffee tree is harvested by hand by selective picking, where only the well-ripened fruit is picked individually.
The harvested coffee is then processed by the farmers either dry, washed or semi-washed method. Washed or semi-washed methods are more often chosen for specialty coffee. Both of these methods are more demanding than dry processing, but the coffee is ultimately of higher quality.


How coffee is evaluated
Processed coffee beans undergo many quality tests. The most common method for identifying and assessing aromatic and flavour qualities is coffee tasting. In a tasting, aroma, flavor, acidity, body, aftertaste, deliciousness, balance, cup clarity, consistency and overall impression are evaluated and scored. From these aspects, a final score is calculated, which ranges on a scale of 0 -
100 points.
According to the rules of the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA), the term 'specialty coffee' is used to describe a coffee that scores 80 points or more overall in a tasting.
Of these, a coffee with a score of 80 to 84 is considered very good, 85 to 89 excellent and 90 to 100 outstanding.
For comparison, regular coffees available in supermarkets score between 50 and 69 points. The quality of these coffees ranges from good to average to lower. Sometimes you will come across very cheap coffee in the supermarket, but these range from 40 to 49 points and are of very low quality (bellow grade). All coffees with a rating below 40 points are considered low quality (off grade) and are often made into instant coffee.


What makes specialty coffee different?
An important feature of specialty coffee is the guarantee of origin, which is precisely defined and completely traceable. With this coffee, you will always know what country and region it comes from, sometimes you will know the name of the plantation itself.

Information is also given on when the coffee was harvested and how it was processed. On the other hand, the origin of commercial coffees commonly available in grocery stores is usually untraceable. In most cases, you will only find out the country from which the coffee was imported, and if the coffee is labelled, for example, as Brazil 100% Arabica, it is very likely to be a blend of coffees from plantations all over the country.