What is speciality coffee?

23 April 2024

What is Speciality Coffee?

“Not all coffees are born equal”

‘Specialty (or speciality) coffee’ is a term often bounded around in the coffee industry, but not always accurately – and all too often, as a ‘trendy’ label. It’s easy to think that any ‘nice’ coffee, that’s not instant, is ‘specialty’ but do you know the criteria that judges the coffee’s worthiness of this label?

A coffee that is graded 80 points or above on a 100-point scale by a certified coffee taster (SCAA) or by a licensed Q Grader (CQI), is considered ‘specialty’. This grading process is comprised of several areas, but primarily covers the following:

  • The quality of the coffee – a specialty coffee will have been grown at the perfect altitude at the correct time of year, in the best soil, and picked at the right time – in some respects, therefore, it’s like a good wine!
  • The farmer will provide high levels of care and attention to his coffee crop and the beans then undergo scrutiny to grade them for any defects – only those with the very fewest faults make the grade!
  • It’s then roasted and brewed very simply with hot water so that the acidity, body, flavour and aroma can all be judged.
  • The origin of the coffee is an important factor too. Ethiopia, Kenya and Colombia are all synonymous with specialty coffee, but many others are making a name for themselves in the market too – that’s why when you purchase from us, you’ll have a choice of coffees from the likes of Costa Rica, Rwanda, Guatemala, India, Brazil, Burundi, El Salvador, Honduras, Papua New Guinea and Peru – not to mention our bespoke blends!

But it’s not all to do with the quality and taste. Specialty coffee also drives positive change within the industry. It supports the livelihoods of farmers and their communities and by opting for a specialty coffee, you’re contributing to a sustainable and equitable supply chain, fostering fair trade practices and environmental stewardship.

So next time you’re placing an order for coffee, ask yourself whether it’s truly a specialty cup that you’ll be serving to your customers.

Iron and Fire carefully source speciality coffees from across the globe. Our award winning coffees are certified and expertly roasted to bring out the optimal flavours in every bean. Find out why serving speciality coffee in your coffee shop is an absolute must in the UK today and how we can help you optimise your speciality coffee offering. Contact us to enquire or apply for a wholesale account today.

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