Commodity VS Speciality
Coffee has been traded as a commodity for hundreds of years, and in that time only a small segment of coffee drunk has been specialty coffee. The majority of coffee drunk throughout history has been stale and burnt coffee! Unfortunately that fact is still true today. So why choose speciality coffee?
Let's start with the basics, specialty coffee is coffee defined by its quality and how good it tastes. Specialty coffee tends to be graded by the Specialty Coffee Association. Anything above 80 is speciality coffee, and 84+ is particularly good quality. Speciality is distinct from commodity coffee which is based on convenience, low cost and a generic coffee flavour most people are familiar with; an appeal to the masses at the expense of quality.
As the definition shows, specialty coffee without shadow of a doubt tastes better than commodity grade coffee. The range of unique and exotic flavours you can explore in specialty coffee is astonishing. Anything from bold, full with notes of chocolates, or something more with sweet acidity, with fruity notes, the kingdom of coffee offers something for all taste pallets. On the flip side if you prefer just a straight forward classic coffee taste, specialty coffee gives an all round premium version of that.
Key benchmarks to ensure specialty coffee are as follows:
Buy from an independent coffee roastery - Not only does this increase the chances of a specialty oriented coffee business, but you can also build trust and a relationship with your roastery who truly care about in depth coffee questions, and finding the best coffee for you.
Ensure coffee has a roasted on date on the bag - The website will normally say something along the lines of 'roast to order' so once your order is in, your selected coffee will be freshly roasted.
Coffee has additional details like variety, origin, farm, altitude, SCA scores. This demonstrates transparency. A hallmark of coffee quality that demonstrates the roaster has nothing to hide, and is welcome to further questions.
For freshness, try to buy within roughly two weeks of roasting, and enough to consume for a couple of weeks. Additionally, grind whole beans at home. These rules carry over into any brewing method so you have the best form of freshly roasted no.
Specialty coffee is a promising frontier to nurture progress in ethical and environmental endeavours. The next wave in specialty coffee is transparency. First and foremost, financial transparency so a greater ratio of profits goes back to those who work the hardest in the coffee industry. The farmers. Unfortunately there is widespread poverty amongst farmers in the coffee industry in general. Specialty coffee is the primary area where building meaningful relationships, and bringing farmers out of poverty is an ongoing process.
A great example of this is our Rwanda Kilimbi Washing Station coffee. Farmers have greater leverage over their selling price when they band together into co-operatives, in this case Muraho Trading Co. Our supplier Raw Materia works with Muraho Trading Co. to negotiate better prices for farmers, as well as introduce farmers to new lucrative markets.
Coffee, like many agricultural products, can be devastating for the environment. To be specific, coffee can follow a monocropping method of growing, which reliably yields coffee at the expense of ruining the soil to the point of not being able to grow crops on it again. This is one of many ways unsustainable growing practices can damage the environment and create cascade of negative environmental collateral damage.
Our Brazil Fazenda Mio, comes from Mio coffee farm who go above and beyond in environmental care and sustainability. 28% of the farm is preserved native forest which is home to a variety of wildlife species. This land works mutually with the agricultural sections to prevent soil erosion, and capture CO2. Additionally, whenever new coffee areas are planted, the same amount of land is transformed as a forest reserve.
Specialty coffee isn't an exclusive club requiring expert knowledge, really its open to all levels, from a mild interest in coffee, all the way to specialists and enthusiasts. Wherever you fall on this spectrum, speciality coffee gives you a space to experience coffees journey, from seed to cup, and a level of appreciation for one of the most unique and delicious hot beverages in the world.