What makes Specialty Coffee stand out?Andrew Christian
It is no secret that here at Electric City Roasting Company, we only use specialty grade coffee. This might make you wonder, what exactly is specialty coffee, and what separates it from regular coffee? Well, let us explain.
Specialty coffee is known for its exceptional quality, which is achieved through a rigorous process of growing and harvesting the green, or, unroasted coffee beans. The production of specialty coffee starts with selecting the right coffee plants, which is typically some variety of the Arabica coffee plant.
The plants are carefully tended to, with farmers often using organic and sustainable farming practices. This includes using compost and natural fertilizers to enrich the soil, and shade-grown techniques to protect the plants from harsh sunlight, which allows the coffee cherry to ripen slower.
Once the coffee cherries have ripened, they are carefully hand-picked by skilled workers, who select only the ripest coffee cherries. This ensures that the beans are of pristine quality, as unripe or overripe cherries can negatively affect the flavors of the coffee.
After harvesting, the beans are processed to remove the outer layer of the coffee cherry, revealing the coffee beans inside. There are two main methods of processing: the washed method and the natural method. The washed method involves soaking the beans in water to remove the outer layer, while the natural method involves drying the cherries in the sun and then using a mechanical means to remove the outer layer.
Once the beans have been processed, they are sorted and graded based on their size, color, and defects. Only coffee beans with a limited amount of defects (defined as scoring 80 or higher on the SCAA grading scale) make it into the specialty coffee market.
The beans are then roasted to bring out their unique flavors and aromas. Specialty coffee roasters use specific roasting methods to ensure that the beans are roasted to perfection, without losing their natural flavors and aromas. The roasting levels can vary quite widely, but medium roasts are the most common in the specialty industry.