In the world of coffee, there are two types of coffee – ordinary or commercial class, which we will refer to here as ordinary coffee and special or specialty coffee. We would like to get you acquainted with specialty coffee, explain to you the differences between it and ordinary coffee because when you know them, you will prefer specialty coffee.
What is specialty coffee? A brief introduction to specialty coffee
Specialty coffee should not be mistaken with „gourmet“ or „premium / first-class“ coffee. These are marketing terms and there are not set standards for them.
It is certain that you won’t find specialty coffee in your local supermarket because it is not in a mass production. Usually it is very difficult to get it – imagine this: specialty coffee production amounts to less than 5% from the world coffee production. This coffee class is very rare and limited. The rest almost 95% you have probably already tasted or seen in the form of ordinary coffee.
To produce high-quality coffee, one must apply many different and constant efforts. These are the reasons why it is grown in small lots. Moreover, everything – from fertilizers, through abundance or scarcity of sun, altitude to terroir influences coffee’s quality.
The farmer starts by carefully choosing a spot where he can grow the coffee varieties he prefers. His attention to detail and his dedication to the whole process must continue through growing, picking, processing, roasting and packing the beans.
How is specialty coffee grown?
Instead of big corporations, specialty coffee is a product of predominantly family-owned businesses. Every farmer and his small team put a lot of efforts to succeed in offering to buyers high-quality product. As we said, one must be absolutely dedicated and unfailingly motivated from the beginning when a spot is chosen, and the environmental conditions are judged because only this way the best coffee in the given conditions could be grown. In most cases, the quantity of the coffee does not exceed 500 kg and there are even micro lots of 20-40 kg.
Ordinary coffee is grown in big quantity and that is why its producers do not necessarily aim at high quality. Growing ordinary coffee is an automatized process and various fertilizers and pesticides are involved which doesn’t bring many health benefits.
How is specialty coffee picked?
Almost always specialty coffee is hand-picked. Every farmer has his rules for the color and
As we already mentioned, ordinary coffee is grown in great amounts and this suggests making the whole process automatic. Coffee cherries are picked by a machine and no one pays attention to the extent of the ripeness of the fruit. Thus, at one place are gathered ripe cherries together with overripe and green. This is a negative influence on the lot’s quality and worsens coffee’s taste.
How is specialty coffee processed?
Just like ordinary coffee, specialty coffee can be processed in three different ways: natural, semi-dry and wet process. When dry processed, coffee beans are laid on a certain place under the sun and from time to time are mixed in order to get dry. When wet processed, first the pulp is removed and then coffee beans ferment in reservoirs and are thoroughly washed with water. Off course, this process requires a lot of attention because any mistake in the fermentation conditions and the subsequent cleaning could lead to a lack of balance in the taste or impurities. After drying, beans are sorted by size and weight. The defected ones are removed from the others. They are usually used for regular coffee and are packed in jute bags. Specialty coffee is packed in special bags called grain-pro first and then in jute bags.
Roasting specialty coffee
Specialty coffee is roasted in small family roasteries by means of traditional ways. It is usually sold directly from the roastery so that its freshness and aroma are preserved. Bear in mind that the flavors reach its peak on the 45th day after it has been roasted and after that they start fading until the 6th month after it has been roasted. That is why most of the smaller roasteries tend to print the date of the roasting instead of expiration date. Every big trade mark has its own roastery and factory where the coffee is roasted, packed and send to the end customers.
Whereas with specialty coffee it is up to the roaster to find the tastiest roasting profile. After that the cupper tastes the samples of roasted coffee and approves its taste. Only then the rest of the coffee is roasted following the approved roasting profile. Major companies that sell regular coffee usually do not strive for choosing different roasting profile for each of their coffees – their coffees should be roasted in order to be packed and packing is also an automatic process. Specialty coffee is roasted by roaster master and not from an employee who knows how to operate a roasting machine, and it is hand packed and not machine packed. You have probably already noticed that the more special a coffee is, the smaller the pack. Many micro lots are sold in 20-40 gr.
Specialty coffee quality standards
In order to keep self-encouragement and self-regulation, the specialty coffee industry, producers, exporters, roasters, retailers and equipment suppliers have created many local and national organizations. In many
As DABOV Specialty Coffee’s client, you have already tasted not one but many outstanding coffees that have praised during the said competition and there are many inspiring dates with specialty coffees ahead of you that will bring unfamiliar, challenging but always thrilling and high-quality flavors. In 2016, we succeeded in buying the highest praised coffee in Guatemala – KALIBUS LA SIERRA #1 COE 2016, which won the coveted 1st place. Last year we bought one of Brazil’s and one of Costa Rica’s best coffees – BRAZIL SITIO DO BONE #7 COE 2017 and COSTA RICA DONA ILEANA COE #11 2017. In 2018, we bought Brazil’s number 1 coffee – BRAZIL FAZENDA PARAISO COE #1 2018, and one of the best coffees from Nicaragua – NICARAGUA LA VIRGEN COE #6 2018, Panama – DONA ELVIRA GEISHA WASHED # 16 BOP 2018.
Specialty coffee is different from the regular coffee by the way of cultivation, processing and roasting. It’s not a mass market product and it requires a lot of effort and patience in order to get the perfect taste.
If you still haven’t tried specialty coffee, our Starter Pack contains 3 unique coffees for a great price! Check it out below.