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What Makes Specialty Coffee so Special?

by Ryan Edwards 17 Feb 2024 0 Comments

What makes speciality coffee so special? Let me go through a brief discussion that takes you through the processes that go into providing the consumer with a fantastic cup of coffee. 

Specialty coffee refers to coffee that is grown, processed, roasted and brewed to high standards having unique profiles and characteristics. These coffees are typically produced in small quantities by skilled producers, roasted by skilled roasters and often sold at a premium price. 

The journey of a coffee bean from plant to cup involves numerous steps, each one playing a critical role in shaping the final product. 

From Seed to Cup

1: Planting/Growing: Specialty coffee typically starts with carefully selected coffee trees that are planted in ideal growing conditions that include but are not limited to elevation, soil quality and shade cover. These trees take several years to mature and require a specific amount of sunlight, water and  nutrients to produce a high-quality bean. The producers often use sustainable farming practices, paying close attention to environmental conditions that may affect the bean quality.

2: Harvesting: Once matured, the coffee cherries are carefully hand-picked when ripe. Done in stages to ensure that the ripest cherries are picked at the right time, these cherries are sorted and processed to remove the outer layers and reveal the green coffee bean. 

3: Processing: There are several methods of processing the coffee cherries, including washed, natural and semi-washed processing (I will discuss the different processing methods in a later post). Each processing method provides a unique flavor profile and characteristics. 

4: Sorting/Grading: Once the bean has been processed, they are sorted and graded based on factors such as size, shape, density and color. The sorting and grading process is typically done by hand to ensure that only the highest quality beans are selected. 

5: Roasting: After the sorting and grading process, the green coffee beans are imported and transported to your local coffee roaster where the beans are roasted to bring out their unique flavors and aromas. The roaster carefully controls temperature and duration of the roasting process to achieve the desired roast level and flavor profile. 

6: Brewing: Finally, the roasted coffee beans are ground and brewed using various methods such as drip, espresso or French press to further highlight the unique flavors and aromas of the specific bean. (I will discuss the different brewing methods in a later post.)

Overall, Specialty coffee is special because of the care and attention goes into every stage from seed to cup to provide the best cup possible. Every step is carefully planned and executed to produce the highest quality product possible with a unique flavor profile and characteristics.

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