“You’re just paying three times as much for the same stuff because of the label’, ‘you’re a sucker for the marketing’, ‘it’s probably exactly the same stuff as they put in instant coffee”.
If you’ve ever had a conversation with anyone about speciality coffee this sentence has without doubt been uttered! Either it was you (Don’t be shy, we won’t judge...much) or it was one your friends (Get new friends immediately :) ).
So to settle this age old debate about whether speciality coffee is worth the dollar or just a shady scheme, we’ve looked into it for you.
What is speciality Coffee?
An easier question to answer is probably what is regular Coffee.
Regular Coffee is usually a pseudonym for mass produced, poor quality product with little concern placed upon sustainability, ecology or in fact anything besides profit. Conversely speciality Coffees are designed and ‘built’ from the ground up with these things in mind.
The plantations are chosen because they use sustainable farming methods and often fair trade agreements with the farm owners and workers. Greater care is taken when it comes to considering how to transport the beans worldwide including the impact of the transport on the carbon footprint.
There are three other big differentiators between regular and speciality coffee.1)
When Coffee beans are roasted they are heated to around 230 - 260 degrees celsius and kept moving continuously - this is the process that turns them from Green to Brown. Once the roasting is complete the beans are immediately cooled either with air or water, then the clock starts and you want those beans in your cup a maximum of 30 days from that point.
The beans are (read: should be) checked at this point by a professional cupper aka taster. This person can tell a ton from the colour and texture of the Coffee before even tasting it, they'll then slurp and sniff their way through a tasting. Regular Coffees may skip this stage or employ a less experienced cupper so the quality control just isn’t there in the same way it is monitored in speciality Coffees.
Another quick thing to note at this stage is that a great quality specialty Coffee can survive over 30 days from roasting to cup, poor quality Coffee doesn’t stand a chance!
It is during grinding that a lot of the Aroma is lost so this needs to be done appropriately and with care.
Speciality Coffee is ground with care and caution, finely for espresso and a rough grind for a filter Coffee. In regular Coffees the grind tends to be a second thought rather than an integral cog in the machine working to create a great cup of Coffee.
If you’ve never ground your own beans before and you’re a regular Coffee drinker, definitely consider adding it to your Coffee Repertoire. You get to capture the immediate aroma before it disperses and is lost forever. In case you think i’m building it up too much.. Give it a go! Check out how to get that great coffee experience at home
Brewing Coffee is where all of the work comes together. When you are partaking of a really good speciality Coffee the worst thing you can do is throw a ton of boiling water over the grind and burn it. If you do that all of the work up until that point has been wasted.
Yes, that is exactly what we do with regular Coffees which is why it’s a deal breaker for real Coffee aficionados.
If at all possible, use filtered water if not bottled. The kettle boils usually at around 212 degrees fahrenheit so let it sit for 30 seconds which should drop the temperature to around 200 degrees. Then take 25 - 30 seconds pouring the water over the grind for espresso, for a drip system the water may be in contact with the grind for up to 5 minutes.
Even speciality Coffee begins to lose some of the great taste immediately after brewing so as soon as that bad boys hit a nice temperature (usually 140 degrees fahrenheit) enjoy the glistening magic.So there you go, the difference between speciality coffee and regular? Basically everything! Is is worth it? Hell yes?!