Specialty coffee is very different from commodity coffee. The Specialty Coffee Association uses a grading methodology to grade coffees. Graders consider defects in the beans, sweetness, acidity, balance, flavor, and mouthfeel and assign a numerical grade in each category.

Coffees scoring between 65 and 79 are commodity coffees. The coffees scoring between 80 and 100 are specialty coffees. Coffees with a score between 90 and 100 are Presidents Award coffees. Only 1 percent of the world’s coffee receives a score higher than 90. All coffees we roast have scores higher than 84.

What else makes specialty coffee different from commodity? In short, quantity vs quality. The coffee bean’s origin and variety of coffee plant are the first variables.  When the bean is harvested, and the method of processing the bean are also relevant in determining the difference between the two types of coffees sold.

Commodity coffee growers care about quantity. The only reference most people have for coffee is commodity coffee. Commodity coffee drinkers consider coffee a generic product that is efficient; albeit bitter, way to get their caffeine. It is simply “coffee.”   This is what is on the shelves in grocery stores.

Specialty Coffee Considerations

Specialty coffee growers care first about bean quality. Over 80% of the world’s coffee crop comes from the Arabica Coffee Plant, but there are differences in flavor based on the plant’s origin, variety, and when the cherries are picked.  Specialty coffee is typically handpicked by a person, not a machine. The pickers pick only the ripest cherries.

All processing methods can result in high quality, great tasting coffee, but the complexity of flavors, sweetness, acidity, and body can also be different. There are many ways to process coffee beans; get them to the point where ready for roasting. Honey Processed coffee can taste different than wet-hulled or washed or termico processed coffee. Specialty coffees use many different processing methods.

Specialty coffee drinkers find joy in the complex flavors of specialty coffee and can taste the difference in quality. They also like the experience of tasting coffee from different origins around the world. Here at Convoy Road Coffee Roasters, we work with our suppliers to bring exotic and amazing new origins every month. Our coffees start with a cup score of 84. Thanks for making us part of your coffee story!  

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