Some consumers complain about the cost of specialty coffee. Others state they can buy Coffee X from a big box store and save. But at what cost?
But first, let's talk about what it is. Specialty coffee is simply coffee that has been carefully processed and produced to a certain standard. It’s been roasted and hopefully brewed to highlight its unique flavors and aromas, and the finished product is very different from the standard coffee you can buy at supermarkets.
Typically, specialty coffee comes from small-scale producers who focus on quality over quantity. They use better growing and harvesting practices and carefully select the best beans to produce a product that tastes great and has a high price tag to match (which is where sourcing my beans carefully comes to play).
Specialty coffee can come from almost any country, but the most common places are Central and South America, East Africa, and Southeast Asia. Because these regions have favorable growing conditions, they produce some of the tastiest coffee. There’s no single type of coffee that’s considered a specialty. Coffees are graded based on their quality; some are considered specialty grades even if they’re commonly sold as standard brews.
Standard coffees are often roasted quickly (Starbucks flash roasts its coffees, which is why it has that burnt taste.), without much attention paid to the process. On the other hand, specialty coffees are carefully selected and roasted to allow the beans’ natural flavors to shine through. After roasting, specialty coffee is often cooled slowly to prevent it from losing flavor. If it’s cooled too quickly, the coffee will taste sour and more like roasted grain.
The coffee industry is vast and growing every year. Unfortunately, that means there’s also a lot of poor-quality coffee. It can be challenging to know what you’re buying because coffee producers don’t have to be transparent about the quality of their beans. They can sell you a standard product and label it as specialty grade, or they can use marketing to convince you that coffee is high quality when it’s not (we saw this in the previous article).
Specialty coffee growers are often more careful about what they sell. They have a reputation to maintain and have to prove to buyers that they’re growing high-quality beans. They can do this by sending samples to independent labs that test the beans for their quality and levels of caffeine and taste. This means you can buy specialty coffee confidently because it’s certified to be high quality.
All coffee is a natural source of caffeine and antioxidants, but specialty coffees are often grown and processed better than standard brews. Specialty growers often focus on quality, while standard producers are more concerned with quantity. This can mean the coffee is naturally higher in antioxidants and other healthy compounds. Higher levels of antioxidants can help prevent certain diseases.
Research has shown that the more antioxidants people consume, the less likely they are to develop conditions like cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s. Although more research is needed, some evidence is that drinking more coffee can reduce the risk of certain types of liver disease. This might be because antioxidants improve liver function and reduce liver inflammation. One more good reason to drink specialty coffee like High Altitude Roast Coffee.
The specialty coffee industry is also more sustainable than the standard coffee market. Specialty growers focus on quality and producing high-yield crops, while standard growers are often driven by profit. This means they can use cheaper fertilizers and pesticides and don’t pay as much attention to the soil where the coffee is grown. Both types of coffee impact the environment because they need plenty of water, but specialty growers are generally more careful about how they use it. They also use less fertilizer and pesticides, meaning they have less waste to dispose of.
In conclusion, specialty coffee is essentially a higher-quality version of regular coffee. Specialty growers are more careful about the conditions in which their beans are grown and pay attention to the details during the harvesting and roasting process. This can lead to a more consistent product that tastes better, is healthier, and has less waste. Is this something that you could incorporate into your lifestyle, much akin to fine Chilean wine or that floral IPA?