What makes speciality coffee so special?
In official terms, speciality coffee is defined by a score of 80 or above out of a 100, given to it by a licensed Q grader - someone with an outstanding and calibrated tasting palette.But to define speciality coffee in this way is somewhat limiting and definitely undermining of the incredible commitment and care by the individuals and parties that play a part. In this article we’re going to take a brief snapshot at each stage of getting coffee from a farm to cup and why it makes speciality coffee more 'special' than you might have thought.
Firstly, green coffee is grown. The farmer or producer of each of the coffees we stock on Postroast is speciality focused. They care about the varietals they grow, the conditions they are grown in and will only harvest ripe cherries free from defect. Compare this to mass-produced commercial grade coffees where huge machines rip coffee plants bare and care little if batches are defective or even ripe. The speciality farmers will then either process this coffee themselves or work with processing farms and washing stations to ensure their crop is cared for and the processing meets their high standards. Where mass-market coffee producers value quantity, speciality producers value quality - they are focused on flavour and product quality from day one.
The next stage in the supply chain is the importer or ‘green coffee buyer’. The buyers in the speciality sector are almost always speciality focused. They are not buying all grades of coffee and just happen to stumble across better quality beans from time to time. They are dedicated experts that work closely with producers and actively seek out the finest grade coffees around the world. They also oversee the packaging and shipping of the green coffee, ensuring it reaches its destination in as good a condition as it left the farm.
The roaster comes next. They receive samples of the green coffee from the green buyer, sample roast and cup them. They then choose which coffees they want to roast and offer to their customers. All the coffee roasters we work with at Postroast are incredibly skilled and dedicated people. They know the value of the green coffee they are buying and want to honour what has gone before them in the supply chain by taking incredible care over their work. Roast profiles are created and refined for each of the coffees they roast ensuring the coffees taste outstanding.
At this point, coffee reaches a fork in the road. Some goes to coffee shops where committed-to-the-cause baristas take care in creating the perfect cup. And some goes directly to you.
At Postroast, we’re also committed to the speciality coffee cause and are working hard to make sure you only receive exceptional coffee. We choose which roasters we work with, sample a cross section of their coffees throughout the year and only offer incredible tasting, speciality grade coffee that we know has been ethically produced.
At this point, you’re probably realising the weight that is on your shoulders. We’ve all made a bad coffee and we all come up with excuses as to why we didn’t care enough about our coffee brewing. But I’m hoping as you read this you will take a little bit more care over how you view and make coffee. You’ll appreciate reading about the farmer on the back of the bag and want to learn more about the people that roasted your coffee and you'll be sure to check whether it was picked, produced and roasted in an ethical and quality focussed way. It came a long way and a lot of dedicated people worked hard to give you a very special product.
So yes, speciality coffee is defined by a score but it’s made special by the people involved.