The term “Speciality coffee” was first used by Erna Knutsen in 1978 at an international coffee conference in Montreuil, France, to determine the beans with unique flavor profiles, grown in a special geographical microclimate. Since then, many years have passed, and this definition is still the foundation, but with the development of the speciality coffee industry, it has been substantially expanded and supplemented.
So, what does “speciality coffee” mean today? This means high-quality coffee, combining unique taste, aromatic, organoleptic properties, which are achieved by quality control throughout all stages of the life cycle of coffee, from the seedling to the cup. Careful cultivation, harvesting at the right time, best methods of processing and compliance with storage protocols, contribute to maximizing the potential of green beans. To reveal this potential, the final stages – roasting and brewing , which require knowledge, experience and skill, are also very important, and are called upon to bring to the consumer all the richness of taste and aroma that are the result of the work of many people. As you can see, the term “speciality” includes too many concepts with a broad meaning to speak about it briefly, and requires concretization and explanation.
According to the standards of SCA, a speciality class coffee must have a distinctive attributes, moisture content between 9-13%, not more than 5 full defects in 350 grams, no primary defects, no quakers, not more than of 5% above or below screen size and must be free of faults and taints. And finally, coffee, which receives 80 points and more out of 100 is considered a speciality class. The cuppings are held by certified Q-grader, which takes into account a lots of parameters, including defects of green beans, cup characteristics and its distinctive features. The organization developed standards and protocols for such cuppings, green coffee standards and grading protocols, brewing standards, and roasting profiles. Due to this, the term speciality coffee is not an abstract definition of a unique coffee, and allows buyers, roasters and consumers to determine the quality of the product.
P.S. “Specialty coffee”, a term used in America, means the same as the term “speciality coffee”, which is common in British English.