The appearance of specialty coffee
This is how specialty coffee is defined by Erna Knutsen, a coffee tasting expert, more than four decades ago. After that, the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) continued to maintain and develop the definition of specialty coffee.
What is specialty coffee?
According to SCA, coffee beans are called Specialty Coffee when they meet the following criteria:
- Green seeds: no primary defects and less than 5 points of secondary defects
- Cupping: from 80 to 100 according to the standards of SCA
- Satisfy the quality conditions in all stages “from grain to separation.”
- Expressing the typical identity: of the growing area, the place of production
- Enhance the value of all participants in the coffee supply chain
“From seed to cup” is a process of “exploiting” and “conserving” the quality of coffee. The first is from cultivation – the stage that forms the identity of coffee. The second is the primary processing method – molting the seeds. Next comes roasting – the art of developing potential flavors. And finally, brewing – the art of capturing the “big picture” to “show” through the finished cup of coffee.
Green seed standard
It can be said that the stage of cultivation and preliminary processing is the process by which the internal and physical flavors of coffee are formed.
The growing stage includes altitude, geographical location, soil, soil quality, temperature, humidity, cultivation, etc. All of which affect and structure the very characteristic flavors of coffee. For example, coffee in Africa will have more floral aromas, succulent berries, and high acidity.
Coffee grown in the Americas tends to have caramel and chocolate aromas with moderate acidity, balance, and a full mouthfeel. But coffee grown in Asia smells of spices, dark chocolate, and herbs….
In general, the multi-layered flavor is due to the vital essence of the root and suitable growing conditions and stages of cultivation, irrigation, and nourishment. In addition, the harvest must meet the requirements to produce evenly ripe and plump coffee berries. From this stage, the coffee has to go through a manual filter. Or can be picked up to limit the errors of type 1 and type 2.
Coffee continues to be transformed through preliminary processing methods. At this time, the potential flavors of coffee are changed and developed. Here interesting notes begin to emerge. Caused by fermentation or drying … becomes the typical highlight of coffee. However, the possibility of undesirable flavors appearing is also very high.
They can be formed due to unsatisfactory preliminary processing in terms of technique and technology. Or due to another objective factor such as high humidity, insufficient sunshine, and depth.
The geographical location factor and the primary processing method will significantly affect the final result of the finished product. Can coffee qualify as Specialty Coffee? It is at this stage.
Roasting standards for Specialty Coffee
To become a Specialty Coffee, you must pass many strict standards If the preliminary processing stage is the sketching stage, then the roasting stage is the “coloring” stage for the coffee picture. Once again, coffee undergoes chemical and structural reactions. It was finally perfecting the sensory experience that makes the beauty of a cup of coffee.
First, the art of roasting not only conveys inherent flavors. Next, it also shows the personality of the roaster. The brand is also known for its style of coffee roasting. Green coffee beans have qualified for Specialty Coffee. However, here, coffee goes through the challenge again. Because the roasting is unsuitable, the machinery is of poor quality; there is a roasting error… Coffee will still fail the specialty coffee quality test.
Standards of tasting
The standard of tasting is a sufficient condition to be called Specialty Coffee. The SCA also has its criteria for tasting procedures for:
- Cupping rate
- Cupping tools
- Water temperature for cupping
- Broth for cupping
- Roasting size for cupping / specified time for cupping after roasting
- Grind size for cupping
- Room for cupping
- Spoon for cupping
- Table for cupping
According to the SCA scoring framework, coffee with a score of 90-100 is classified as excellent. Coffee with 85 – 89.99 is graded as outstanding. While coffee scores 80 – 84, 99 is graded very well.
The last element of the supply chain is the barista. Of course, the barista himself must also have knowledge and technique. Only then will they capture the overall picture of coffee. From there, it is possible to decide on the brewing method, grind level, recipe … to express the most outstanding values of coffee.
According to SCA’s manual brewing extraction chart standards, cups of coffee within the “golden bracket” range from 18% to 22% extraction. In addition, the water used to make Specialty Coffee must also meet SCA’s standard conditions. Including the index of solids concentration, pH, alkalinity …
Specialty coffee is a type of coffee sensitive to the external environment.
It can be seen that specialty coffee is quite sensitive to objective external factors. Ric Rhinehart, operational director of SCAA, once wrote: “Unlike alcohol, coffee is influenced by many external factors. Only one person or company is responsible for growing, harvesting, preliminary processing, packaging, and finished products for wine.
And serving is nothing more complicated than uncorking the cork and choosing the right glass. And coffee to customers must go through a chain of hands.
From farmers, millers, collectors, roasters, and brewers. The ultimate customer experience is dependent on all links in the supply chain….
Specialty coffee is a coffee that meets all quality standards. It also helps to add value to the lives and livelihoods of those involved in the supply chain.
The value of specialty coffee
It can be said that it greatly influences consumer thinking. It improves the quality of life of coffee makers and consumers alike.
Firstly, the richness of scientific knowledge and the taste of specialty coffee is an object of study.
Second, it is the endless inspiration of anyone involved in the supply chain. From the work of farmers, purchasers, roasters, baristas… All of them are energized and motivated to join hands in the production and sustainable development of high-quality coffee.
Specialty coffee helps develop the senses and stimulates curiosity, the need to learn, is the driving force, and is the scientific foundation.
The concept of specialty coffee has so far been inconsistent. But its value for people who love and make coffee is something that can be confirmed. If you are also passionate about this premium coffee, it is advisable to take formal Cupping courses to appreciate the best coffee beans.
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