Sure, you’ve heard the term specialty coffee, but perhaps don’t know what it means or its differentiation with commercial coffee. The term Specialty 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).
Let’s get into a bit of history
Firstly, according to the Cambridge Dictionary, specialty means: a product that is extremely good in a particular place. Meaning that this term gives a coffee an added value and flavor because once you try a specialty coffee, you’ll never go back to the commercial one. Because this type of experience is like no other, its indescribable what a coffee can bring to your senses.
Moreover, speciality coffee has existed for a long time, in one form or another. We tend to think of speciality coffee as being a new trend, yet even as far back as the early 1900s, discerning customers like the Hotel du Crillon in Paris specified that their coffee was to be bought from select micro-lots on specific origin farms.
Green coffee is graded via visual inspection and cupping. Visual inspection involves taking a 350g sample of green coffee beans and counting defective beans. Defects can be Primary (e.g. black beans, sour beans) or Secondary (e.g. broken beans). Therefore, for a coffee to qualify as “speciality”, it must have zero Primary defects and less than five Secondary defects.
Moreover, 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, flavor, and aroma.
The following are the scores than a specialty coffee can get:
Very good coffee
Below specialty quality, it is not considered a specialty coffee
Where is specialty coffee grown?
Most commercial coffee growing countries also produce a small amount of speciality coffee, with some exceptions. Countries like Ethiopia, Kenya and Colombia are synonymous with speciality coffee; however, many lesser known countries are pushing to produce some of the best coffee in the world.
Unquestionably, Colombia is known for its landscapes and beautiful coffee farms. That’s why their coffee is rich in flavors and aromas.
Now let’s talk what you can do with your Colombian specialty coffee
The espresso, also known as a short black, is approximately 1 oz. of highly concentrated coffee. Although simple in appearance, it can be difficult to master.
A double espresso may also be listed as doppio, which is the Italian word for double. This drink is highly concentrated and strong.
The red eye’s purpose is to add a boost of caffeine to your standard cup of coffee.
The black eye is just the doubled version of the red eye and is very high in caffeine.
Americanos are popular breakfast drinks and thought to have originated during World War II. Soldiers would add water to their coffee to extend their rations farther. The water dilutes the espresso while still maintaining a high level of caffeine.
The long black is a similar coffee drink to the americano, but it originated in New Zealand and Australia. It generally has more cream than an americano.
The word “macchiato” means mark or stain. This is in reference to the mark that steamed milk leaves on the surface of the espresso as it is dashed into the drink.
The cortado takes the macchiato one step further by evenly balancing the espresso with warm milk to reduce the acidity.
The breve provides a decadent twist on the average espresso, adding steamed half-and-half to create a rich and creamy texture.
This creamy coffee drink is usually consumed at breakfast time in Italy and is loved in the United States as well. It is usually associated with indulgence and comfort because of its thick foam layer and additional flavorings that can be added to it.
A flat white also originates from New Zealand and Australia and is very similar to a cappuccino but lacks the foam layer and chocolate powder. To keep the drink creamy rather than frothy, steamed milk from the bottom of the jug is used instead of from the top.
Cafe lattes are considered an introductory coffee drink since the acidity and bitterness of coffee is cut by the amount of milk in the beverage. Flavoring syrups are often added to the latte for those who enjoy sweeter drinks.
The mocha is considered a coffee and hot chocolate hybrid. The chocolate powder or syrup gives it a rich and creamy flavor and cuts the acidity of the espresso.
There are a few variations on the Vienna, but one of the most common is made with two ingredients: espresso and whipped cream. The whipped cream takes the place of milk and sugar to provide a creamy texture.
Affogatos are more for a dessert coffee than a drink you would find at a cafe, but they can add a fun twist to your menu. They are made by pouring a shot of espresso over a scoop of vanilla ice cream to create a sweet after-meal treat.
Cafe au Lait
The cafe au lait is typically made with French press coffee instead of an espresso shot to bring out the different flavors in the coffee. It is then paired with scalded milk instead of steamed milk and poured at a 50/50 ratio.
Iced coffees become very popular in the summertime in the United States. The recipes do have some variance, with some locations choosing to interchange milk with water in the recipe. But in a few words, its coffee with ice.
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