Specialty Coffee: What is it?

Coffee is amazing, right? It’s a magical bean that can turn into so many wonderful things. Whether you’re a first-time coffee drinker or a seasoned connoisseur, you may have heard the term “specialty coffee.” But what does it mean? Is it just regular coffee with a fancier name? Or is there something more to it?

Here at Elixir Coffee Roasters, it’s a movement to create an even better cup of coffee than what you’re used to and to make sure that every step of the process – from grower to barista – is committed to excellence.

In this blog post, we’ll let you in on our passion for speciality coffee and explore some of the factors that contribute to its quality. Read on to find out!


What Is Specialty Coffee?

Specialty coffee is defined as a type of coffee that has been expertly graded with a score of 80 or above on a 100-point scale. This type of coffee is typically grown in specific conditions, processed and carefully nurtured by farmers in a certain way, and roasted to bring out its unique flavour profile. From the plantation, it is sold at a premium to coffee traders, or direct to roasters. The term “specialty coffee” was first coined by the Specialty Coffee Association of America in 1974.

Grading Specialty Coffee

We previously mentioned that In order to be considered specialty coffee, the beans must meet certain criteria. Cupping is the process of tasting coffee in order to grade its quality which is done by professional tasters.

They use a variety of specific methods to grade coffee, which include smelling the dry grounds, evaluating the aroma of the brewed coffee, and finally tasting the coffee’s flavour. The tester will take note of any flaws in the coffee, as well as any positive attributes. For its evaluation, the coffee must have no primary flaws (i.e. black beans, sour beans) and less than five secondary flaws (i.e broken beans) in order to be considered “speciality coffee.”

The coffee is then given a score, which determines whether or not it is specialty coffee. With a score of 80 as the benchmark In the scoring scale, the grading levels are assigned as:

  • Scoring 80–84.99 is graded as Very Good
  • Scoring 85-89.99 is graded as Excellent
  • Scoring 90-100 is graded as Outstanding


Why does specialty coffee need to be grown at high altitudes?

There’s no requirement that states that specialty coffee needs to be grown at high altitudes. However, it is important to know that the higher the altitude, the slower the coffee beans grow. This allows them to develop a more complex flavour profile.

The specific climate is also an important factor that helps increase the quality of coffee beans to turn them into specialty coffee.

For example, coffee that is grown in Ethiopia has a very different taste than coffee grown in Brazil. This is due to differences in temperature, humidity, and soil composition. Ethiopian beans tend to be more acidic and sweet, while Brazillian beans are much bolder in comparison.

Coffee beans that are grown in volcanic soil tend to have a fruity flavour, whereas coffee beans grown in sandy soil tend to have a more nutty flavour.


How is specialty coffee processed?

The two main methods of processing coffee are the wet method and the dry method. The wet method also known as the “washed method”, is a procedure where the beans are soaked before they’re dried. This removes any impurities from the beans and helps to bring out their flavour.

The dry method is also known as the “natural method”. In this method, the coffee beans are dried in the sun or in a mechanical dryer, it is less labour-intensive than other methods, but it can result in coffee beans that are less uniform in size and shape.


What is the difference between a medium roast and a dark roast?

Medium roast coffee beans are roasted for a shorter amount of time or at a lower temperature which results in a coffee that has more acidity and more fruity flavours. Whereas, dark roast coffee beans are roasted for a longer amount of time or a higher temperature, which results in a coffee that has less acidity and a darker and bolder flavours. Some delicate fruit flavours can dissapear with darker roasts.


What traditional techniques are used to roast specialty coffee?

The traditional roasting techniques used for specialty coffee are drum roasting, hot air roasting, and conical roasting. Drum roasting is when the beans are placed in a rotating drum that is heated from below. Air roasting is when the beans are suspended in hot air and roasted with convection. Conical roasting is when the beans are placed in a conical roaster and roasted with indirect heat.


Why is specialty coffee popular among coffee drinkers?

With its flavourful and unique taste, specialty coffee is a treat for the senses. Whether you enjoy it black or with milk and sugar, specialty coffee is sure to please. From the rich flavour notes and strong aroma to the perfect balance of acidity and sweetness, specialty coffee is an experience like no other.

If you’re looking to try something new, or if you’re a coffee lover looking for the best cup of coffee possible, look no further than specialty coffee. We’re sure that you won’t be disappointed!


Where can I get specialty coffee in Brisbane, Queensland?

Elixir Coffee is the best place to find specialty coffee. We’ve scoured the globe to find the best beans from the most exotic locations. Our coffee is roasted to perfection, ensuring that each cup is full of flavour and meets our customers’ and wholesale partners’ expectations. Our baristas are experts in crafting java perfection, so you can be sure that your cup will be exactly how you like it. Shop online today for our range of speciality coffee!

Espresso Blend - Coffee

Espresso Blend


Uganda Bugisu Sipi Falls Organic (Anaerobic)


Instant Specialty Coffee

Wholesale Options for Specialty Coffee

Elixir Coffee Roasters’ specialty coffee is also available in wholesale quantities. If you are a cafe owner, office manager, or run any type of business where coffee is served, we would love to partner with you and provide you with our specialty coffee beans.

We offer a variety of packaging options to suit your needs as well as custom branding options. For more information on our wholesale offerings, please contact us. We look forward to hearing from you!

At Elixir Coffee Roasters, we are passionate about specialty coffee and committed to providing our customers with the best possible experience. We hope this article has helped you to understand what makes specialty coffee so special. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We would be more than happy to chat with you about all things coffee!

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