If you are a passionate coffee drinker you have two options – regular coffee or specialty coffee. You’ve probably seen this term used on coffee packaging or heard it often in cafes, but do you know the difference between the two? The journey of coffee from planted seed to a delicious cup is long and elaborate. Specialty Coffee – technical definition “Specialty coffee” is a term that describes the coffee beans with the best flavor and was first used in 1974 by Erna Knutsen in an issue of the Commercial Magazine of Tea and Coffee . The berries are obtained in special microclimates and benefit from an exceptional treatment from planting to serving. According to the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA), coffee that gets 80 points or more on a scale of 100 points, is classified as “specialty”. This classification process is called ‘ cupping’ . To obtain this status, the coffee must pass the assessments of a person certified by the Coffee Quality Institute (Q-grader). It classifies coffee beans according to several criteria, such as origin, harvesting, processing, roasting, grinding and preparation, after which it adds attributes such as aroma and sweetness. All this is a final score calculated from 100 points – and this is what decides the value of a particular coffee. 80+ is classified as ‘specialty’ but some specialty roasters will only accept 84+ for single origins coffee.

Q-grade Score

Score

Grade

Speciality Yes/No

90-100

Outstanding

Yes

85- 89.99

Excellent

Yes

80- 84.99

Very Good

Yes

Below 80

No Grading

No

Defects matter! Defects come from several key categories. One of the categories is pre-processing – defects that occur on the farm or in nature. Another category is processing – defects resulting from mishandling or erroneous steps in the process of removing fruit seeds. Another thing is storage – before the coffee bean reaches the bakery, while it is in the bag, in a truck or in the warehouse. Defects are divided into 2 categories: primary and secondary. A specialty green coffee must meet the quantifiable quality standard set by the SCAA, namely: not to show any defects in the first category (primary defects) and not to have more than 5 defects in the second category (secondary defects).

Primary defect

The number of incidents that must be identified to find a complete defect

Integral black bob

1

Whole sour bob

1

Dried coffee fruit

1

Large stones

2

Medium stones

5

Big sticks

2

Medium sticks

5

Secondary defect

The number of incidents that must be identified to find a complete defect
Parchment

2-3

husk

2-3

Broken grains

5

Insect stings

2-5

Partially black berries

2-3

Boabe parțial acre

2-3

Floating grains

5

Cellulose coating without content

5

Small stones

1

Small sticks

1

Water damage

2-5

Flavor: more than numbers Specialty coffee is significantly different from the usual one, in the sense that it is grown at higher altitudes, is constantly checked and carefully processed once harvested. Every step from growth to grain preparation is monitored and understood to improve its quality. Coffee-growing countries are now focusing on improving quality at farm level, in an effort to improve their scores. Countries such as Kenya, Ethiopia and Colombia are considered Mecca for specialty coffee, but there are also smaller countries, such as India and Japan, which passionately adhere to the trend. Once the beans are processed and delivered, the roasters spend a considerable amount of time understanding the coffee and developing roasting profiles. With better and better technology, toasters are now able to connect the fryer to computers to monitor temperature and record various attributes during the frying cycle. After trying different profiles, choose the one that brings out the best in that bean. Specialty coffee is lightly roasted, in small batches, to maintain freshness and monitor quality, unlike commercial coffees which are roasted intensely, to hide defects, both visual and flavor. Every coffee drinker should be able to choose what to drink. We, at Pretty Good Coffee, are proud to collaborate with high quality coffee roasters and to offer you new flavors every month that will delight your senses. We bring you more curiosities about coffee, soon, on the blog: D! In the meantime … enjoy your specialty coffee this month!

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