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Specialty Coffee
Authorised SCA Trainer   Caffe & Co. SCAE / SCAA Member Liverpool

Specialty Coffee / Speciality Coffee

A misconception by most is that specialty coffee is often defined as any coffee that may be dressed up and the natural coffee flavour masked by adding chocolate sauce, whipped cream, caramel syrup and sprinkles.

Coffee like that above and similar is marketed heavily on our High Streets to the mainstream consumer who don't really like coffee and choose to load it with sugary substances to obscure what little coffee is already in their latte.

So what is Specialty coffee?

We can distinguish the market for coffee broadly into two distinct categories - Commercial Coffee and Specialty Coffee. Commercial coffee is also sometimes referred to as commodity coffee.

Coffee is graded / quality scored to determine its overall quality. It assesses and measures a wide variety of aspects of the coffee to ascertain it's 'worth' based on its taste characteristics and potential defects or faults. This system is incredibly complex and most coffee falls short of making the grade. To put it simply, any coffee scoring less than 80/100 cannot be defined as Specialty. Coffees scoring 80-100 are specialty, and the higher the score, the better it will be and the higher the price it may command. Specialty grade is only served in specialty coffee shops.

To achieve these higher than average scores it's clearly got to be good in some way which means that the farmer must have a high degree of attention to detail in his growing, harvesting and processing methods.

Taking this a step further, we also have specialty coffee roasters and specialty coffee shops. So, here we apply similar levels of detail in the roastery to achieve an exceptional and balanced roast and every other aspect that falls within the coffee roasters remit.

From the perspective of the specialty coffee shop, we are handling coffee of very high quality, so equally we need to show it some respect and handle it with care and attention to detail. In a specialty coffee shop therefore we need to focus our attention on how we store our coffee, the equipment we use needs to be chosen and selected very carefully and we need to be trained to a high level.

How we extract our espresso, the amount of coffee we use, the ratio of water and / or milk we use, how we texture our milk, the milk we use, the temperature we serve it at, the presentation and guaranteeing its consistency must all come together in the end so that thne we can say that truly everything about our coffee is specialty!

It is extremely easy to serve poor coffee even when using the best most expensive coffee beans from the best most reputable farms and the best most established specialty roasters as well as with the best most expensive equipment. Hence the reason why the majority of coffee on the High St is so poor.

There is only one way to avoid poor coffee and that is to be trained. Drink coffee, be passionate about coffee, learn as much as you can, cascade to others and keep learning!



 
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