Member of the Specialty Coffee Association

SCA Member


Specialty coffee comprises the prime pick of the entire world coffee stock -- it consists of 10% of the global yield. Specialty coffee goes through a rigorous classification process, meeting strict standards before it earns the label: "Specialty Grade."

Coffee is "cupped" where a perfect score of 100 points are possible. No coffee ever scores a perfect 100. The most rare and beautiful coffees score in the 90s. Good coffee (and the majority of specialty coffees) fall within the range of 82-88. However, when a coffee scores below 80 points, the "specialty" classification is removed. Below 90 coffees are considered "commercial grade."

When a coffee has flavorings added to the beans or is aged in bourbon or oak barrels, it is to mask the coffee's perceived flaws in the flavor profile of the coffee. Coffee purists understand this and steer away from these kinds of roasted coffees.

Coffee branded as "specialty" by the SCAA is allowed zero Category 1 defects (called "primary defects") and up to five Category 2 defects (called "full defects" per 300-350 grams of water in the "cupping" process. The coffee must possess at least one unique attribute in either the body, taste, aroma, and/or acidity. No unripened coffee beans (called quakers) can be present in the batch and the moisture content must be between nine - 13 percent.

Here at High Altitude Coffee Roaster, we strive to represent this model and roast specialty grade arabica coffees. Our decaf coffees are processed with zero chemicals and have the distinction of being Mountain Water Processed (MWP) or Swiss Water Processed (SWP).

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