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What makes speciality coffee special?

Speciality coffee is used to refer to coffee that is graded 80 points or above on a 100 point scale by a certified coffee taster (SCA) or by a licensed Q Grader(CQI).

Speciality coffees beans at their peak are different to other coffees because speciality coffee has been grown at the perfect altitude, in the best soil, and then hand picked at just the right time. All this translates into some of the most exciting and tasty coffee in the world.

What does speciality coffee mean
What makes speciality coffee special

Specialty Grade Coffee

Green coffee is graded by visual inspection and cupping for taste. Visual inspection involves taking a 350g sample of green coffee beans and counting defective beans. Defects can be Primary (black or sour beans) or Secondary (broken beans). For a coffee to qualify as “speciality”, it must have zero Primary defects and less than five Secondary defects per 350g.

Cupping involves roasting the coffee and brewing simply with hot water, and relies on the skill of the taster to assign scores to each of the coffee’s attributes, such the acidity, body, flavour and aroma.

Speciality Coffee Quality Grade Score

90-100 Outstanding Specialty Coffee

85-89.99 Excellent Specialty Coffee

80-84.99 Very Good Specialty Coffee

>80.0 Below Specialty Quality Not Specialty Coffee

Speciality Coffee Market Is Growing

Recent reports (Allegra) showing that the speciality coffee market is set for a 13% year on year growth, higher than the 10% predicted for the coffee market as a whole. The result of speciality coffees increasing popularity is mirrored in high street chains and the rise of speciality coffee cafes continue to introduce limited edition single origin coffees in stark contrast to their super-dark roasts or high robusta-content blends. The reports also predicted a doubling of the current 1,400 speciality coffee sales in shops and online by 2020, and a year on year growth rate of 17% for the UK roasted speciality coffee market.


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