What is specialty coffee?

The first requirement for specialty coffee is to have an official certification above 85 points ( on a scale of 100) by an authorized coffee tester.  The qualities that are sought consist of  aroma, flavour, personality and lack of defects.

What we want to share in this post is how to achieve these quality standards along the process:

  • Harvest: Coffee growers manually select only mature coffee cherries, making sure to avoid green or overripe ones  which would add bitterness to the coffee.
  • Selection: Once collected, the cherries go to a pulping machine to separate the flesh part of the bean. After that, the beans are left to dry in the sun to remove excess humidity and are then  shelled. At that moment, again manually, defective beans are separated to be sold as commercial coffee.   Quality controls ensure that   stipulated thresholds (5 defects per 350 grams) are not exceeded.
  • Roasting: This  is a critical process to acquire the  coffee’s specific profile according to its origin and the desired result.
  • Service: Now it’s the barista’s turn, the last step in this chain, where the coffee potential can be developed or ruined.  He/She manages some key aspects like grounding (type, calibration) and brewing, taking care of coffee/water rates, water temperature, brewing time and the potential mix with milk.  This is why, in contrast to many beverages, the service moment is key.  While it’s impossible to get good coffee from bad beans, it’s absolutely possible to get bad coffee from good beans.

In addition to the pleasure of drinking good coffee, specialty coffee supports  small coffee growers who work honestly to offer a good quality product.

This is very important in a market where commercial coffee is a commodity, and as every commodity the prices are set by the stock markets, being so low that sometimes farmers are not able to live in minimal living conditions consistent with their efforts.