The True Meaning Of Specialty Coffee

The True Meaning Of Specialty Coffee

Everyone who loves drinking coffee has two options of what type of coffee to drink. Do they want a regular coffee or specialty coffee? What differentiates the two and why do you need to care about which one to drink?

What makes a coffee be considered a specialty coffee or a regular one goes as far back as when the seed is planted to what you’re drinking in your cup. It’s safe to say that this journey is a little complicated. Coffee needs to be cared for because a single bad coffee bean can make a pot of specialty coffee into a bitter tasting drink!

coffee art

To make things a little clearer—in today’s coffee, production a regular coffee is a few short steps away from being bad coffee, whereas a specialty coffee is synonymous with the great flavor you would expect from a specialty coffee. Unlike the regular coffee, it has undergone a specific process that gives it its unique quality.

Besides taste, which is one of the major attributes that makes a coffee specialty, another characteristic that makes a coffee special or not is the fact that it is good for your health. You should know that coffee provides you with health benefits, such as:

  • Reduces the chance of getting Alzheimer’s disease and Dementia
  • Reduces cancer formation
  • Reduces Diabetes

Of course, we should note that over consumption of it can induce some effect like insomnia, which can mess up your entire system.

The question now is when you chose your coffee, do you know how to differentiate the regular from specialty. One way of knowing this is to understand the production, and this will be discussed below.

Growing And Processing Stage

This stage begins with a coffee seed; which we mean the same seed that makes up the coffee you drink. At first, the unprocessed coffee bean is planted. The seed is planted at the right place and at the right time so that it produces a quality coffee.

Two species of coffee are commonly planted which are the Arabic and Robusta. The Robusta is more bitter but easy to cultivate, whereas the Arabic is the complete opposite, robust flavor but hard to cultivate. Only 10 percent of the coffee brewed worldwide is of Arabic coffee species.

artistic shot of specialty coffee and coffee beans

3 to 4 years after the planting of a coffee tree, it will begin to produce a red fruit where the coffee bean can be found when it is ripe and ready for harvesting. Harvesting of the coffee bean comes in two ways; it is harvested either by picking or by strip picking.

Strip picking seems to be the easier method because all the berries of the tree are picked at once, but this also means that it may include some bad beans also. In other words, hand picking will give you best result but might consume a lot of manpower, money and time.

Once the picking process is complete, the coffee needs to be processed immediately so that the produce doesn’t spoil. There are three methods that can be used for this process and they include:

  • Dry processing - is done by spreading the coffee bean on a large surface to ensure sun dehydration action on it.
  • Wet processing - is the removal of pulp from the bean and the fermentation of the bean in tanks.
  • Semi-dry processing - the mucilage is not fully removed after pulping, and parchment is dried together with most or all its mucilage.
wet processing coffee beans

During wet processing, the fermented bean is washed with a lot of water. This is a very crucial step, and it is done incorrectly, it can cause the coffee to have impurities and a bitter taste, which cannot be removed after the process has been completed.

When the coffee is dried, they are sorted by size and weight. During the sorting stage, damaged beans are removed. Unfortunately a large part of coffee industry all around the world supply coffee product that consists of bad coffee beans.

These bad beans are then used to produce cheap and regular coffee to customers. Eradicating these bad seeds is crucial because one overripe coffee seed can ruin a cup specialty coffee by releasing it bad taste into the whole coffee. After the sorting has finished, then the good quality beans are stored in sisal bags or jute until their final shipment to the roaster.

Roasting Process

This is the stage where the coffee gets it taste which is tested by the cupper. The cupper examines the color of the bean, and it will tell more about the bean’s quality. After the bean has been approved, it is ready to be roasted.

roasting specialty coffee beans

The beans are roasted between 230 to 260 degrees Celsius. Coffee is kept moving around during the roasting process, so they don’t burn. The heat that has been applied will rise until the inner temperature of the bean reaches 230 degrees. It is at this temperature where the bean will lose the oil inside.

This process changes the bean’s color from the usual green to brown. This is when the coffee receives its actual aroma as well. Once roasting is complete, the beans are cooled down by air or water. The aroma of coffee will begin to fade almost immediately once the process has finished. Note that coffee is best brewed about 2 to 30 days after roasting.

Grinding And Brewing Process

This is the last stage that will make your coffee a specialty coffee because a specialty coffee has a nice, fine grind. This is important because it allows the extraction of flavor quickly before the loss of aroma after grinding.

The specification for a filter coffee ground is coarse and finer for espresso. It was confirmed that ground coffee could lose up to sixty percent of its aroma in just in 15 minutes. This is why coffee made at home is not as perfect as those made in cafes because due process is followed in café.

specialty coffee arty


In conclusion, a specialty coffee is a coffee that is made with care so that there is no room for errors during the process of making it. Cafes are the best option if you want a delicious cup of specialty coffee. However, you should remember that specialty coffee can be made in your home and offices when you use a quality coffee maker and grinder.