Specialty Coffee: what it is, how to prepare it and where to find it

chicchi caffè verde

What makes a coffee…Specialty?

The word "specialty" already indicates that we are talking about a quality coffee, but with what criterion is it established that the coffee is specialty? Its denomination was born in America in the 70s and indicates the carefully selected green coffee, the result of a production carried out in particular conditions that give it a unique taste and aroma.

The institution to refer to is the SCA (Specialty Coffee Association) which defines the international standards for the evaluation of the coffee.

Its production is characterized by extreme attention to quality, by the selection of the best varieties of coffee , to the care during the cultivation, the harvest and the processing. Farmers who are dedicated to specialty coffee (or specialty coffee) often use sustainable methods, growing plants responsibly to preserve the surrounding environment.

The evaluation of these coffees is very strict and must satisfy strict prerogatives. The search for defects takes place on a sample of 350 g of green coffee and by definition, to be considered a specialty, cannot have any primary defect and no more than five minor defects. The presence of light colored beans (quakers) is not permitted on a 100 g sample of roasted coffee.

In the tasting in the cup, the preparation requires following precise standards on the roasting, degassing, dose , grinding, quality, quantity and temperature of the water and use of the tasting card.
Particular attention should be paid to the part of the sensory that takes place "Brazilian-style" or "cupping" which consists of tasting the coffee.
Specifically, the Brazilian method is a type of tasting used internationally to outline the profile of the drink. They are placed in the cup 8. 25 g of coffee and pour 150 ml of water between 93° and 95° over it. An initial olfactory test is carried out by moving the crusts, wait for the infusion for 4 minutes, remove the crusts on the surface with 2 spoons and proceed with tasting.

How are Specialty Coffees classified?

A coffee is defined as a Specialty, only if it has reached the evaluation parameters of green coffee and roasting and which it obtains after the I taste a score, given by a scale from 80 to 100, of at least 80 out of 100.

  • 90-100 – Exceptional
  • 85-89. 99 – Excellent
  • 80-84. 99 – Very good
  • Less than 80. 0 – Non specialty

How do you prepare a Specialty coffee?

The grinding of this coffee is done at the moment and must be adapted according to the extraction method that can take place through different methods: Espresso, Chemex, v60, Aeropress, Cold Brew, French Press, Siphon.

espresso estrazione del caffè

The quantity of coffee used depends on the preparation method and personal taste. For the pour over methods the brew ratio (that is the proportion between the quantity of ground coffee and the extraction water) is 60 g of coffee per liter of water, but it can be modified according to your taste.
temperature of the water used is also of considerable importance, and is around 92-94 degrees. Specialized baristas are essential in guaranteeing an excellent final result. They possess in-depth knowledge of different coffee varieties, extraction techniques and the perfect blends to create unique beverages.
Specialty coffee lovers are often interested in learning about the
product traceability, the origin of the beans and their processing methods. In addition to the quality perceived on a sensory level, the transparency that specialty coffee offers allows it to be a highly appreciated coffee today.

The phases of Specialty Coffee

- Cultivation:

piantagione di caffè - coltivazione del caffè

To have a high quality coffee we start from the producer, a figure who knows the secrets, who cultivates the plants in a workmanlike manner in order to obtain an excellent product grown in suitable land with specific altitudes and a certain climate. Only the Arabica species can be classified as specialty.

Green coffee and the Green Coffee Buyer:

The Green Coffee Buyer, or the buyer of green coffee, has the task of tasting and evaluating the coffee following the protocol defined by the SCA, takes care of selecting the best coffees and is the one who contributes to providing the first evaluations on the sensory notes.

- Roasting:

la tostatura del caffè

The selected coffee is passed on to the Roasters, which roast the coffee. The roasting phase is very delicate and usually for a specialty coffee it is medium-light.

The extraction/preparation:

estrazione o preparazione del caffè

Once roasted, the coffee can be extracted up to 6 weeks after roasting without losing its aroma. It can be extracted with different methods bearing in mind that the grind, which varies in the different methods, is very important to have unique cups.

Where can we find a Specialty Coffee?

Specialty coffees are usually available in all specialized cafés.
These coffees are characterized by high quality of the supply chain and traceability.

Cellini Caffè has developed thanks to its Q Graders of blends of Specialty Arabica and Fine Robusta. The first blend features refreshing citrus notes and a subtle touch of bitter cocoa, offering a unique tasting experience. The second blend, on the other hand, stands out for its fruity notes and hints of cereals, creating a truly special combination of flavours.
Both blends have been specially studied to allow traditional espresso lovers to appreciate a variety of complex aromas and a slight acidity that remains accessible even to palates accustomed to the classic Italian espresso.