Specialty Coffee : The Highest Quality Coffee

Specialty coffee is the term commonly used to refer to "gourmet" or "premium" coffee. Specialty coffee made from the highest-quality green coffee beans roasted to their greatest flavor potential by true artisan roasters. These beans are then brewed to perfection as defined by industry standards established long ago.

The specialty coffee story begins with the planting of a particular type of coffee into a certain growing region. Not all growing regions are created equal – there are regions that grow better coffees than others, due to altitude, soil, and other environmental factors. The plant must be given excellent care through harvest and preparation for export.

Specialty coffee starts in the green bean phase. It’s defined as coffee with no defects and a full cup taste. It isn’t enough that the coffee tastes good – to be crowned specialty coffee, a brew must be notably good. Premium coffee, which many perceive to be high quality, is actually one grade below specialty coffee, helping to define the term even more.

Roasting is the next phase and brings another opportunity to define specialty. Every coffee has the potential to express itself differently in combination with every roaster. A roastmaster’s job is to develop and bring out specialty coffee’s distinct flavor.

Freshness is another major factor. Only highly aromatic coffee is considered specialty – if the coffee is stale it cannot meet the standards of specialty coffees. It’s vital that the coffee remains lively and robust until the brewing phase.

And finally, the brewing phase. Brewing specialty coffee is an art. There are many different brewing methods but to achieve specialty coffee it must have the right ratio of coffee to water, the right grind suited to the coffee, proper water temperature and contact time, and a well-prepared coffee “bed” or “cake.”

Specialty coffee, in the end, can only be defined after it is poured and tasted. It takes many steps to produce a specialty cup of coffee and quality must be maintained throughout all of them. The specialty segment remains the most rapidly growing portion of the coffee industry and the Specialty Coffee Association continues to define specialty coffee. [source : Specialty Coffee]