Everyone has heard about speciality coffees - but does anyone really know the difference? Why are these coffees specialty and what makes them that way? There's several reasons, actually.
The first reason is what type - generally going to be Robusta beans or Arabica beans. Robusta (like the name) are robust, tending to have shallow roots, are hardier than Arabica, bear fruit earlier and are usually stronger. These can be grown anywhere. Arabica, however, normally only grows on mountains in high altitude. These trees also have a deep root system and take about two years longer to bear fruit. Because these trees are on a mountain where machines can't harvest them, these need to be hand picked - driving up the price a bit. Arabica beans have a delicate flavor potential and can pick up flavors from the surrounding environment. This provides for layers and layers of different flavors in one bean. Sometimes farmers actually create "micro lots" where they nurture Arabica trees and provide the best environment for the best possible quality beans.
When all these beans are hand-picked, the farmers will sort through and sell them to different bidders based on their quality - higher quality to the highest bidder, so on and so forth. After this, the International Coffee Association uses a very specific method to determine quality beans, and will only use the best quality for specialty coffees and premium coffees.
Moisture content, specific sizes and attributes are three of many tests run on beans to ensure specialty coffees.
Questions or interested in learning more about specialty coffees? Please, contact us.