What Makes Specialty Coffee So Special?

Did you ever wonder about the differences between old school commercial coffee and specialty coffee? And what makes coffee “special?”

Typically processed in large, mechanized plants and packaged under nationally advertised brand names, commercial coffee is frequently traded on the international stock market. Cost plays a major factor in all facets of commercial coffee growth and production.  Commercial coffees usually use Robusta coffee beans, which tend to be cheaper than Arabica beans.  According to Norway’s www.lacrema.no, Robusta coffee beans are generally earthy and burnt or bitter tasting, and contain 2x less sugar than Arabica beans.

The Specialty Coffee Association of America, www.scaa.org, developed an accepted definition of specialty coffee as coffee relating to the entire supply chain. SCAA sets quality standards for specialty coffee at every stage of the coffee production, including coffee origin, allowable defects in green beans, water standards, pre-harvest and post-harvest methods, and brew strength.  Specialty coffees typically use Arabica beans, and theroasterie.com reports that these beans have an extensive taste range from sweet-soft to sharp-tangy.

With all of the hoops specialty coffees have to hurdle, no wonder what we once called “gourmet” coffees are now considered as specialty coffees!  And in April, 2021 www.coffeeaffection.com claims that Arabica beans are by far the most popular type of coffee beans, making up about 60% of the world's coffee.

So there you have it! Specialty beans get a bit more love in the growing and roasting process to create a superior cup.  

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