We hear more and more about specialty coffee, but what makes this coffee so special?
What is specialty coffee?
Let's start with the definition: the term " Specialty Coffee
" or " Specialty Coffee
" is used to refer to coffees with a classification of 80 points or higher on a 100-point scale awarded by a certified coffee taster ( SCAA ) or a Q Grader authorized ( CQI )
Specialty coffees are superior quality coffees
and are different from other commonly consumed coffees: specialty coffee is the result of painstaking work and great professionalism in all stages of production, from cultivation to extraction. It was grown at the perfect altitude, at the right time of year, in the best soil and harvested at the right time. If well roasted and extracted, it will become one of the most aromatic and tasty coffees in the world.
Read on to find out what specialty coffee is, how to distinguish it from the usual coffee we drink at the bar and how to best store and use it
Is specialty coffee a novelty or just a passing trend?
No, specialty coffee is not a new trend, but the recent demand for quality coffee has certainly decreed its success.
As early as the early 1900s, discerning customers such as the Hotel du Crillon in Paris specified that their coffee should be sourced from select micro-lots from specific farms in certain regions of Guatemala
. The term "specialty coffee" was first used in the 1970s in the Tea and Coffee Trade Journal
, with coffee's gradual transition from a modern convenience to a drinking experience. Since then, improvements in cultivation and roasting techniques, as well as the growing demand for high quality coffee have determined the success and development of specialty coffee.
How is specialty coffee classified and what are the criteria adopted?
The SCA classification of coffee beans is a standardized method for comparing coffee beans. With the help of the stringent SCA protocols, the relationship between the quantity of defective coffee beans and the overall quality of the coffee is judged. You can consult the SCA best practices and protocols here
What is classification?
The coffee is graded by sorting the shelled beans on grids with holes of different sizes
This coffee screening method was developed on the theory that coffees grown at high altitudes are denser and with larger beans, while generally maintaining the best flavor profile
. From this it can be deduced that there is a correlation between the size, density and quality of the grain. While there are of course exceptions to this theory, the main goal is to produce uniformly sized beans, so you get an even roast.
So let's move on to the ranking, obviously starting from the best.
Grade 1: Special quality coffee beans.
To be classified as grade 1 coffee, i.e. the best, the beans must have no primary defects and 0-3 complete defects, with a maximum of 5% above and below the specified size
. In the cup, these beans must have a distinct attribute in one of the areas of taste, acidity, body or aroma and be free from defects and taints. In addition, the beans must also have zero of what is called "Quaker", i.e. they are unripe or poorly roasted beans.
Grade 2: premium quality coffee beans
These beans are the same as grade 1 coffee beans, but a maximum of 3 Quakers and 0-8 flaws are allowed.
Grade 3: the most used in large-scale distribution
They have, among other characteristics, a maximum of 5 Quakers, free of flaws, but between 9 and 23 full flaws are permitted. The major brands you find in supermarkets use this grade of coffee beans.
Grade 4: Standard quality coffee beans
These beans have 24 to 86 complete defects per 300g.
Grade 5: Coffee beans out of grade
These beans have more than 86 complete defects per 300g.
Specialty Coffee Italy roasting in Barolo
Specialty coffee is a great Christmas present
Our selection of specialty coffees will surprise you with the quality of single-origin Arabica coffees, grown in micro-lots by individual producers and roasted with great care and precision in Barolo, in the Langhe by the Ialty micro-roastery.
The coffees we have selected for you are the result of a long research and selection activity by Ialty
, the first roastery in the area specializing in specialty coffees, but also a café and cultural meeting space capable of creating synergies between the world of food and wine, the of art and that of sport .
A specialty coffee is the ideal gift for a quality break, to enjoy a coffee, at your own pace, beyond the hasty espresso.
We especially love Flora Brazil ,
with taste notes of Caramel, Citrus and Milk Chocolate produced in the Mantiqueira De Minas region. You can find it in our shop
, as a single product and in the thematic boxes dedicated to coffee.
You might also try Oltehua Vasquez | Mexico
, also in 250 gram bean packs, part of the SLOW FOOD COFFEE COALITION, an international, open and collaborative network
that unites all the participants involved in the coffee supply chain, from farmers to consumers.
Oltehua, Aquél Lado
1312 m asl
Bourbon, Garnica, Colombia
Washed, extended fermentation
Lemon, Spices, Plums
If, on the other hand, you are undecided * and want to try them or give them all away, we recommend the coffelicious box.
A selection of specialty coffees dedicated to connoisseurs of 100% Arabica single-origin coffee of the highest quality, curated by the Ialty roastery, Barolo, in limited edition illustrated packaging.
The box contains 4 packs of 250 grams of:
- 100% Single Origin Arabica Coffee IALTY, MORANGU
- 100% Single Origin Arabica Coffee IALTY, OLTEHUA VASQUEZ
100% Single Origin Arabica Coffee IALTY, LUWU SEKO
- 100% Single Origin Arabica Coffee IALTY, FLORA | BRAZIL
You can find it in our SHOP
How to best use specialty coffee?
In general, to obtain a cup of coffee of the highest quality
, it is possible to consider the so-called Golden Cup Standard
for having the best coffee/water ratio. To obtain the Golden Cup Standard, the recommended coffee/water ratio is in fact 55 g/L ± 10%
As far as the coffee preparation temperature
is concerned, to obtain the Golden Cup Standard, it is recommended that the temperature of the water, at the point of contact with the coffee, be 93.0°C (± 3°).
And now? Let's have a coffee, definitely specialty!