Specialty coffee refers to the whole process from farmer to cup using single origin coffee. It refers to the way the coffee is roasted and how it is extracted. According to the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA), coffee which scores 80 points or above on a 100-point scale is graded "specialty".  it is produced in countries like Indonesia,Brazil,Ethiopia and Colombia.

As a consumer there are two options to choose from, either a regular coffee or specialty coffee, while some claim that  regular coffees may cause cancer, ulcer, heartburn disease etc. Since it is acidic the specialty coffee is seen to be more healthy than the regular, which is the more reason despite the price consumers prefer specialty coffee.

What Defines Coffee as Specialty Coffee

The qualification of  specialty coffee is the traceability, sustainability, quality of green and flavor profile. The style of the coffeehouse, the fancy and expensive equipment and the professional serving styles also defines specialty.

Specialty coffee begins from the choice of land to the choice of barista. The climate condition, planting, varieties, fertilizing, pruning, picking times and ripeness, understanding fermentation times, good drying practices and understanding the financial aspect of producing coffee also determines if a coffee can be regarded as specialty coffee.

The Requirements and Stages in Making of Specialty Coffee

For a coffee to meet the required standard to be specialty coffee, the following people given in a chronological order must play their part deeply.

  1. Farmer

The farmer plays a very important  role by selecting the right environment with the needed altitude and climate conditions, and needs to pick the best at the peak of it ripeness. With the coffee nursed for years before the first harvest, the farmer is devoted to producing quality not quantity and must connect with quality-minded buyers.

The farmer must be knowledgeable in the aspect of choosing a suitable fertilizer for the coffee beans, planting the beans in a weather friendly environment, good pruning skill and equipment and also understanding the price to pay for quality. The farmer is the root of the specialty coffee production.

  1. The Green Coffee Buyer

A green coffee buyer with certificate from SCA (Specialty Coffee Association) and CQI (Coffee Quality Institute) can identify a specialty coffee  since they have a palate as distinguished as a sommelier and can closely identify coffee quality via cupping, or systematic tasting of brewed coffees. The green coffee buyer with the experience and knowledge gathered can easily identify a good quality coffee and is aware of the price tag. The green coffee buyer is like the branches of specialty coffee production.

  1. The Roaster

The best coffee beans are transferred to the green coffee  buyer then to the roaster who must have completed numerous hours of coursework and hands-on training to skillfully roast the specialty bean. With certificate from SCA, the roaster knows that it requires great monitoring of the coffee beans during roasting to obtain a specialty coffee and as such with his/ her knowledge, experience,  together with the knowledge of heat transfer, thermodynamics and coffee chemistry, the best flavor and quality of the coffee bean can be obtained. Carefulness is really needed here as to obtain the best quality from each coffee bean. The roaster is like the core of specialty coffee production.

  1. The Barista

The coffee bean having passed through three stages already, it’s  then transferred to the final professional who with the knowledge obtained from being certified by SCA predicts the origin of the coffee and its possible taste. A barista is generally known as one who prepares coffee in a coffeehouse.

The barista usually has been trained to operate the machine and to prepare the coffee based on the guidelines of the roaster or shop owner, while more experienced baristas may have discretion to vary preparation or experiment. The barista must pose great knowledge and skills in operating the brewing equipment and must pursue quality during production not quantity.

If the specialty bean is not brewed properly, it is possible that its true flavor potential could be lost; the Barista ensures each bean reaches its full brewed promise. The barista acts like the leaves in the production of specialty coffee.

  1. The Consumer

The consumer completes the life cycle of the specialty  coffee production by constantly requesting for specialty coffee, commenting on the production quality and complementing the barista to boost his/her quality pursuit. The consumer indirectly promotes the coffeehouse and brings more customers. Therefore, since the barista's aim is to satisfy the customer and also generates profit to the coffeehouse owner,  then it is imperative to say that the barista must seek the feedback of his/her customers to justify his/her brewing skills and the coffeehouse owner must also source for the viability of his/her barista to ensure quality which will enhance profit. The consumer acts like the flowers in the production of specialty coffee production. The viability of the barista captures the consumer and in return the consumer recommend more  customers.

In a nutshell specialty coffee is defined by the professionalism in the start to finish processing of the coffee including the traceability of the coffee origin, the sustainability of the coffee content, the quality of the green and the flavor of the coffee after hundred percent processing.

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