Let's get into Matter: What is a Specialty Coffee
Updated: Jun 6, 2022
Specialty Coffee receives that name because in addition to valuing, among other things, its sustainability, its quality by not presenting defects and having a distinctive flavor in the cup, it highlights the most important of all, People.
What Makes So-called Specialty Coffees Really Special?
For a relatively few years, more and more businesses related to the world of coffee have been emerging with a new user profile. These small businesses, unfortunately, are often poorly supported. In addition, they face the large multinationals, which makes their subsistence difficult and reduces everything to a very simple question, but sometimes little valued: QUALITY.
The history of coffee is bleak to say the least. Those countries or large producers that have benefited economically, paradoxically have not acted in an ethical manner towards their workers until a few years ago. Slavery, manipulated poverty and violent occupation are just some of the ways that have been used to take advantage of agricultural communities, which with great economic and social limitations, were willing to under sell their products.
Although it is true that these extreme working conditions have practically disappeared, the effects still persist and it is that the deep poverty of several coffee growers continues to this day, since the prices of coffee at origin do not increase in proportion to the cost of living.
The youngest called to continue with the tradition leave their farms in search of work elsewhere. Those who remain do so, either due to lack of education or even savings, since these crops are usually the only source of family income, so motivation is not the most optimal. We have reached the point of seeing in some countries how entire coffee plantations are burned or uprooted to plant other types of crops, most of them illegal, which report greater economic benefits in the short term.
We also have that the appearance of environmental factors, such as climate change, are also influencing world coffee production like never before. All this combined has converged in a gradual deterioration of the world of coffee, in which a few brands are the ones that practically decided what should be done, how and what value the product had.
The situation reached such a point that it could not go any lower and through hard work to develop relationships and interactions between coffee growers and other agents in the production chain, some systems have been designed and launched with the main objective of providing sustainability. for farmers around the world. Therein lies the secret of Specialty Coffee: its SUSTAINABILITY.
As a result of this, the idea of Fair Trade was born, recognizing to the farms the right to receive a fair price for their production and to the buyers, the guarantee that the benefit would actually affect the coffee grower. This organization has been a positive force in developing countries for more than a decade, and the results, little by little, are coming. For example, it has been encouraged that children have access to medical care, that women are paid for their work and the creation of schools or basic education centers for the children of workers.
Many coffee roasters in the Specialty Coffee arena have taken a new approach to sourcing coffee. Instead of buying through various intermediaries, they have contact with the farmer and do business directly. This method is widely known as Direct Trade (DT).
There is no official certification for coffee purchased through Direct Trade, but there are key aspects that are worth keeping in mind:
personal relationships are encouraged, rather than simple transactions.
the chain of intermediaries is removed from the list to provide higher profits to coffee growers.
it allows roasters to get a close look at the work that is being carried out on the farm before buying any coffee and to guarantee its quality.
This effort, carried out by coffee growers and roasters, is raising the bar for coffee quality and sustainability.
One of the key aspects of the Specialty Coffee movement lies in empowering coffee producers for their innate value. They deserve from all of us, to be paid fairly for their work and thus be able to support their families. As we see it, the situation is clear and simple: without coffee growers committed to their work and their product, we would not have quality coffee.
It should also be noted that by paying a high price for coffee we do not give poor farmers a better life. Only through genuine relationships and equitable cooperation can progress be made, regardless of price per pound. In the end, although we empower them with economic resources, they are the ones responsible for transforming their world.
Coffee Roasting - Why is it so Important?
Traditionally, the coffee beans were burned until crisp, not knowing that by doing so they were masking the true flavors of the different varieties. To this we must add that the quality of green coffee was not the same as it is today. To hide the bad flavors, they roasted the beans until they had a dark brown or even black color adding sugar to the process and in this way being able to homogenize their flavor.
Today's coffee can have subtle flavors like blueberries, milk chocolate, honey, mangoes, orange, cane sugar, and many more. The diversity of flavors continues to grow as roasters learn more and more about how to bring out the best flavors in their coffee.
By roasting lighter than many have dared in the past, specialty roasters are able to bring out unique flavors that reflect the origin of the coffee. Soil type, moisture, plant health, and a variety of other variables determine the taste of a coffee.
If these variables are taken into account at the farm level, there is no reason not to try to find the rich flavors and aromas within the coffee by roasting at a light or medium level.
As we mentioned earlier, Specialty Coffee is based on quality. But we are talking about looking for the highest quality at all levels, from the germination of the seed, through the collection of red fruits, the selection of beans that will be roasted and ending with the barista who weighs the coffee beans in a scale, proceeds to grind according to the type of coffee maker that is going to be used and the way of preparation so similar but deep down so unique to each one.
Drinking Specialty Coffee - An Entire Experience
Have you ever had a coffee that has left you speechless with its taste? Have you ever had a cappuccino with rich, creamy milk and a rose or other design decorating the top? These are some of the ways Specialty Coffee has advanced the art of coffee making.
Thanks to a myriad of various tools or accessories, we set out in search of perfection ... kettles with gooseneck spouts, timers, scales, tampers, bumpers, etc. Don't despair if your barista takes more than 5 minutes to prepare your order! Everything is part of the experience and that translates into a high quality product.
Transparency - Key Aspect in the Specialty Coffee Industry
We are increasingly concerned about knowing the origin of our coffee and we want to show it to you! We want you to know where it comes from through clear and complete traceability, we want to know the names of the coffee growers, the names of their farms. We want to see photos, hear stories, even experience your hard work for yourself. We want to connect with the origin in a way that has never been done before. This is what makes Specialty Coffee changing the world for the better.
The Specialty Coffee industry is more connected, one might even say twinned, than any other industry segment in the world. We cooperate, we share "industry secrets", we encourage each other. We do this to secure the future of coffee and because millions of people depend on it.
We care about coffee. Creating experiences is important to us. Perfecting our craft is important to us. But the most important thing is the people ... those who drink our coffee, or those who prepare it, and even more, those who grow it. We are talking about people! Yes, at heart it is about people!
The people who drink our coffee are the ones who complete the circle of production. Your! Yes, you are at the head of the entire chain, because you allow fair prices to be paid to all the other members of this great family.
Specialty Coffee is an approach to coffee that is driven by ethics with a global conscience, a keen concern for quality and diversity, and a thriving community that is slowly spreading throughout the world.
Its unique origins, artisan brewing processes, direct treatment, fair prices and manual coffee preparation are not the core of this vibrant movement, but the symptoms.
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