Specialty Coffee is a category of coffee that is the product of specific geographic micro-climates that has unique and pleasant flavor profile. Coffee beans go through several stages until they turn to the drink in your cup. Starting from the farm, going through harvesting, processing, storing, roasting, and finally brewing in a cup for drinking. All these are essential stages of development the coffee has to navigate with quality in mind in order to get a high quality cup of coffee. Therefore, “Specialty Coffee” is the result of a quest for excellence throughout the supply chain.
The great potential for quality is achieved by starting with planting a great Cultivar of coffee at the right altitude and in the right soil, under the appropriate climate. The role of the farmer is at the head of the supply chain, and all is naught if the farmer doesn’t carefully seek quality. The same farmer is responsible for harvesting and picking the coffee cherry from a healthy tree at its prime ripeness as to keep the potential for quality from that great tree alive.
Processing the coffee after harvest has one of the most crucial effects on coffee flavor profile. Here, the coffee changes hands, and needs to be quickly and carefully processed. Finally, the coffee must be hulled, separated by size and packaged for shipping. Conditions like relative humidity, temperature and storage containers and conditions all become critical.
Roasting the green coffee is another crucial stage where the coffee changes hands again. The roaster has the role of a chef that creates a culinary master piece out of great ingredients. The roaster has to identify the coffee flavor potential and figure out the best way to bring it out of the green bean. The last step in this long supply chain is where the coffee is brewed properly in a cup to extract its great potential.
Specialty coffee is the result of a relay race to excellence by the farmer, miller, shipper, roaster, and brewer. It comes in different shapes and tastes from different origins in different processes, but all is of great quality and enjoyable and complex flavors. This supply chain is the pride and joy of the specialty coffee industry, and is often a bragging point for all involved.