What is Specialty Coffee; How To Pick A Good Coffee?

Hot, strong and delicious. There’s nothing quite like waking up to a good cup of coffee in the morning. To non-coffee lovers, coffee might seem like a simple and even, boring beverage, but in reality, it’s astonishingly complex. Sweet, nutty, fruity, winey; the flavour variations in every cup of coffee is infinite. With evolving tastes, the demand for specialty coffee has been on the rise and drinking coffee is an exciting journey. Just think of all the vibrant aromas and flavours that you’ve yet to discover!
Specialty Coffee essentially represents the prime pick of the entire world’s coffee yield. There are rigorous classification processes and standards to meet before earning this prestigious label, which comprises only 3% of global coffee production. With specialty-grade coffee, there is more emphasis placed on origin transparency and quality of the green beans, hence producing higher-quality coffee flavours.
Specialty grade coffee is of the highest quality.
Quakers are an example of defected coffee beans.
The coffee trade is divided into three main categories - “Brazillian”, “Robusta” & “High-grown mild”, with specialty coffee falling under the final category. High-grown mild coffee is known for its superior quality and only grown in high elevations between 4,000 and 6,000 feet. These coffee beans are hand-picked, given special care and attention during roasting and brewing.
Coffee considered as “Specialty” by The Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) can have zero primary defects and only up to 5 secondary defects, per 300-350 grams of water. It also has to hold at least one unique quality such as body, taste, aroma or acidity and not have Quakers (unripened coffee beans) present in the batch. Defects are caused by a couple of factors. Some examples include insects, environmental factors, disease, genetic flaws and human error. These result in discoloured coffee beans. Quakers, for instance, are underripe coffee beans and stand out with their pale khaki appearance. To avoid this, farmers tend to remove these underripe cherries from the batch before the processing even begins.
Specialty coffees often have underlying, fascinating flavours such as honey, spice and citrus, which will keep you wanting more than a cup!
Why have good coffee when you can have great coffee? Here are some of our favourite tips to pick the best coffee! 
1. Know your preference!
Do you like your coffee with fruity undertones or strong and nutty?

Arabica coffee typically grows in high altitude areas and are best known for its acidic but sweet, soft taste with tones of sugar, fruit and berries. Robusta, on the other hand, grows in lower altitude and has a distinct, strong and harsh taste with a nutty aftertaste, due to the higher caffeine levels.

NOTE: Avoid coffee beans that are labelled “100% coffee”. Not all coffee is created equally and the mention of varietal is recommended.
Arabica vs Robusta. Which is your pick?
2. Coffee roast level
Are you a light roast, medium roast or a dark roast type of person?

√ Pick light roast if you like:
- Fruity and floral flavours
- No bitterness with crisp acidity
- Light body and bright aroma

√ Pick Medium roast if you like:
- Honey/Caramel sweetness
- Mild bitterness with smooth acidity
- Medium Body & rich aroma

√ Pick Medium roast if you like:
- Deep spice/earthy flavour
- Chocolate sweetness
- Mellow acidity with rich, deep aromas

3. Single Origins vs Blends
A single-origin coffee comes from the same location (like a single farm) so the unique flavours are very apparent as they are not confused by the presence of other flavours. As single-origin coffee is mostly seasonal, quality consistency is hard to maintain.
Your choices determine the type of coffee that's best suited for you.
Coffee blends have become more popular recently as blending allows complementary flavours to be paired together, creating special and well-rounded flavours. While blends are available all year round, they lack flavour diversity as compared to single-origin coffees. 

With that, you know that there’s a whole world of coffee out there. Start your coffee-discovery today!