The term Specialty coffee is used to refer to coffee that is graded 80 points or above on a 100 point scale by a certified coffee taster (SCAA) or by a licensed Q Grader(CQI).
Specialty coffees are coffees at their peak and are different to other coffee because specialty coffee has been grown at the perfect altitude, at the correct time of year, in the best soil, and then picked at just the right time. All this translates into some of the most exciting and tasty coffee in the world.
Green coffee is graded on the basis of visual inspection and cupping after being roasted. Visual inspection involves taking a 350g sample of green coffee beans and counting defective beans; defects can be Primary (e.g. black beans, sour beans) or Secondary (e.g. broken beans). Coffee qualifies as ‘speciality’ when it has zero Primary defects and less than five Secondary defects. Cupping is a process that involves roasting the coffee and simply brewing it by adding hot water to the ground beans; specific scores for each of the attributes such as acidity, body, flavour and aroma- are assigned by certified Q graders.