Coffee has become a fundamental product in our daily lives. Consumers are increasingly concerned about its essential characteristics: its origins, how it’s been grown, the particular roast and the final processing method. Consuming specialty coffee not only means knowing these details that help us appreciate the nuances and aromas, but also consuming a much more socially and environmentally responsible product.
The origin of coffee and its different species
Coffee beans are the seeds that are extracted from the inside of the fruit of the coffee bush. These bushes, which only grow in tropical regions, belong to the Coffea genus, of which there are over one hundred species. Of all of them, the two main ones that are cultivated for the preparation of the beverage are Coffea arabica and Coffea canephora or robusta.
This first classification differentiates between the stronger and more bitter Coffea robusta, rich in caffeine, which is mostly used for the manufacture of soluble or instant coffee, and Coffea arabica, which is finer and more aromatic and comes from a more delicate crop that only grows in mountain highlands, at a minimum altitude of 600 meters above sea level. So the first concept to bear in mind is that specialty coffee will always be of the Coffea arabica species, although not all Coffea arabica can be specialty coffee.
What kinds of coffee are considered specialty coffee?
Next, we move away from this general classification and delve into the specific characteristics of specialty coffee. Once cultivated and dried, the green coffee bean must be selected to a ‘defect free’grade. This process is carried out, in our case, by the farmers of the small specialty coffee farms. This careful selection makes it possible to discard damaged beans and have batches with coffee beans of uniform size and color, bright in appearance and with a fresh aroma. These qualities are very important because they will define the nuances and fragrances of our cup of coffee.
Specialty coffees must have a cup quality level of over 80 points, according to coffee quality formulas developed by the Coffee Quality Institute with itsQ Grading programs.
Finally, coffee cannot be considered ‘specialty’ if the country of origin, name of the producer and farm is not specified. This information allows us to trace the coffee and know exactly who we are benefiting by purchasing this product.