What's Speciality Coffee and How We Choose To Roast
A good cup of specialty coffee will always have your customers wanting another. It can be the heart of a cafe and will have your customer’s coming back.
But what even is specialty coffee? Given the complexities of the coffee industry now, how can you as a cafe owner or consumer find a trusted specialty coffee roaster to ensure you have the best quality coffee.
What's Speciality Coffee?
Specialty Coffee at its core is an assurance of quality - it's a title given to a coffee of caliber that should be filled with flavour. This isn't always the case.
Unfortunately its a bit of a buzz word, thrown around the coffee industry at the moment. Its fundamental difference to regular coffee comes from the quality of green beans chosen to roast. These green beans are selected by roasters or importers based on a scoring process where points are deducted from a sample of green beans based on inconsistency and the number of defects.
However, this doesn't ensure flavour - as much of the flavour is determined by the quality of the roast and then a larger factor still is based on the skill of a barista and how their machines are set up. That is why when the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) define specialty coffee they refer to the entire process from farm to cup making specialty coffee, well... special.
"specialty can only occur when all of those involved in the coffee value chain work in harmony and maintain a keen focus on standards and excellence from start to finish." - SCA
How can I tell if my blend is Speciality Coffee?
So it doesn't matter if the beans are of caliber, if the roaster doesn't respect the process or uses subpar blends then you won't ever have a great tasting cup. But, how can you tell if your product is a high-quality blend? The answer is through defects, consistency in taste, consistency in colour and the type of beans you're using.
- Yes, yes you're not a coffee connoisseur... yet, but it doesn't take a genius to look at 250g or beans and check how many anomalies is in your bag. Check the size of the beans, if you have many shells, if your beans have cracks, holes or if there are lots of charcoal beans.
- Across multiple orders over a space of time, reserve a handful of beans and compare the colour. You want the be known for consistently giving good coffee, but if the roast changes order on order your customers won't understand the large discrepancies. You can visually see the consistency in the roast and as you should be able to smell that fresh roasted aroma each and every time.
- This one is hard as your taste buds change daily, but compare the pare. It's all well and good to have a good cup of coffee. But can you do it again? And again? Do the experiment and note where the coffee impacts your tongue, what mouth feels you get and what flavours are produced. You will need to write down your notes to compare it across different orders.
Types of beans you're using: Robusta vs Arabica
- Robusta is an inferior bean that can taste harsh at the back of your mouth, behind the teeth whereas the Arabica bean is grown at higher altitudes that give it a more in-depth flavour. The Arabica coffee beans are long and flat whereas robusta beans are short and round. Have a look here for the visual differences and then have a look at your blend.
Do the experiment and get your results. Don't take our word for it. But consistency in the coffee industry is a funny thing, we hold the opinion that there's an acceptable spectrum of discrepancies.
We've found over the years that with too much consistency (i.e. using a colour spectrophotometer in too fine of a range post blend) can cause your blend to be flat and lacking life. It's ok to have a few beans of a different colour in a blend because this keeps your blend interesting.
How we choose to roast
That gourmet, specialty coffee, quality of excellence is what we aspire to produce. I’ve literally started fires, had 7 hand operations and ended partnerships on the quest to supply the best quality specialty coffee. Across my 40 years roasting, I believe I’ve finally done that.
We provide blends that are roasted to order, quality controlled, it only contains AAA & B+ rated beans (limited defects) and solely arabica beans (unless otherwise requested). All stock is freshly roasted and (unlike some customers who hold and sell stock that’s older than 6 months) we won’t sell anything older than a week. All old stock is slatted.
This allows for a depth of flavour profile that can otherwise be missed.
The consistency we're after is to produce for you a specialty coffee blend that you can use as a tool for you to create a good cup of coffee for your customers, every single time. Our goal is to create something good enough for them to ask for one (or four) more.