Specialty Coffee: Debunking Myths and Exploring Benefits

Coffee beans being roasted.

Have you ever wondered what makes specialty coffee so different from the coffee you find on supermarket shelves? Is it just a fancy label, or is there something truly special about these carefully crafted beans?

Specialty coffee is not just a trendy term. It refers to coffee that has been meticulously graded by qualified professionals, achieving high scores for its quality. This focus on excellence extends throughout the entire coffee journey – from the way the coffee cherries are grown and harvested, to how the beans are roasted and treated on the way to your cup.

However, there are many misconceptions about specialty coffee – that it’s pretentious, overly expensive, or too difficult to enjoy at home. 

In this blog post, we’ll debunk these common myths about specialty coffee, and instead, dive into the numerous benefits these exceptional beans offer. We’ll explore their unique flavours, the focus on sustainability often found within the specialty coffee world, and how they can open a door to a vibrant, passionate coffee community. 

But before we begin… in need of some specialty coffee? Click here to check out our wonderful range.

Ready to discover a new coffee world? Let’s dive in! 

Specialty Coffee: Myth-Busting

It’s easy to dismiss specialty coffee as a fad or trend, but there’s more to this movement than meets the eye. Let’s tackle some of the most common misconceptions and uncover the real value of specialty coffee.

Specialty coffee is just a snobby term

Some people see the word “specialty” and think it translates to snobbery. However, specialty coffee has nothing to do with attitude and everything to do with quality. The term has very specific definitions based on meticulous evaluation.

Cupping Scores: Specialty coffee beans are tasted and graded by certified professionals called Q-graders. They assess a coffee’s aroma, flavour, acidity, body, etc. Only coffees surpassing a score of 80 (out of 100) are officially considered “specialty grade.”

SCA Standards: The Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) sets globally recognised standards for every step of a coffee’s journey. This covers everything from green bean quality and roasting practices to water chemistry used in brewing, ensuring excellence every step of the way.

These standards aren’t meant to be exclusive; they’re a guarantee that the specialty coffee you buy is the result of careful work and dedication.

Specialty coffee is too expensive

Yes, specialty coffee generally carries a higher price tag than mass-produced coffee. But it’s essential to think beyond the immediate cost and consider the value you’re getting:

Ethical Investment: Many specialty coffee roasters prioritise direct trade or fair trade practices, ensuring farmers earn a living wage for their hard work. Your purchase directly supports sustainable farming communities.

The Taste Difference: Specialty coffee beans are packed with unique flavours and nuances that you simply won’t find in commodity coffee. Think juicy berries, floral notes, or rich chocolate – these are taste experiences worth savouring.

Longevity: Because it’s fresh and of high quality, specialty coffee can be enjoyed for a longer period than pre-ground, older coffee. 

Think of it like this; you wouldn’t expect a quality handcrafted garment to be cheaper than a mass-produced one. Specialty coffee presents the same value proposition – you’re paying for exceptional craftsmanship and a superior product. It’s not cheap because it’s not cheap.

Specialty coffee is too difficult to make at home

The idea that specialty coffee requires complex equipment or barista-level skills is another misconception. While there are plenty of advanced brewing methods, here are some simple ways to enjoy amazing coffee at home:

French press: This classic, immersive method makes rich coffee with minimal fuss. Just grind your beans (or get your roaster to do it for you), and add off-the-boil hot water.

Aeropress: This travel-friendly method uses pressure to create a rich, full-bodied cup of coffee. It’s somewhere between a French press and a V60.

Pour-over: Methods like a V60 or Chemex provide control, allowing the unique flavours of specialty coffee to shine.

Remember, even simple techniques can produce outstanding results when you start with incredible coffee beans. Don’t be afraid to experiment and discover the methods you enjoy the most! 

The Benefits of Specialty Coffee

Beyond dispelling misconceptions, it’s time to celebrate the real reasons why specialty coffee is gaining popularity around the world. From its exciting flavours to deeper connections within the coffee world, here’s what sets it apart. 

Incredible Flavour: A Journey of Discovery

If you think coffee just tastes like, well, coffee, think again! Specialty coffee opens up a vast world of incredible flavours, influenced by the coffee beans’ origins, processing methods, and roasting techniques.

A Fruity Adventure: Imagine biting into a ripe strawberry or sweet blueberry – these vibrant fruit notes can be found in certain coffee origins. You might even get hints of citrus, like tangy grapefruit or juicy orange!

Floral Delights: Specialty coffees can have delicate floral aromas and flavours reminiscent of jasmine, rose, or even lavender.

Sweet Indulgences: Expect hints of rich chocolate, caramel, or brown sugar – some coffees offer a comforting sweetness without adding a single sugar cube. 

The diversity of tasting notes is astounding, making each sip of specialty coffee a delightful adventure. 

Focus on Sustainability: Coffee with a Conscience

Many specialty coffee roasters are deeply committed to ethical sourcing and environmentally responsible practices. Here’s why this matters:

Supporting Farmers: Direct trade relationships and fair pricing models help ensure coffee farmers receive fair compensation for their hard work, empowering them to invest in their farms and communities.

Protecting the Environment: Many specialty coffee companies champion sustainable farming practices that prioritise things like soil health, water conservation, and shade-grown coffee, all of which protect valuable ecosystems for future generations. 

Choosing specialty coffee means you’re not just getting a great cup of coffee; you’re supporting a more ethical and sustainable approach to the industry.

Community and Connection: More Than Just a Drink

The specialty coffee world fosters a unique sense of community and connection, extending from the farmers who grow the beans to the baristas brewing those final cups. 

Tracing the Journey: Specialty coffee often highlights the coffee’s story, from the region in which it was grown to the people involved in its production. This adds a layer of appreciation to your morning ritual.

A Community Passionate About Coffee: Independent coffee shops and roasters often employ people deeply knowledgeable and passionate about coffee. Their enthusiasm is infectious, opening doors to explore new origins and brewing techniques.

Specialty coffee isn’t just about the beverage itself; it’s about connecting to a global community built on a love for quality and a desire to make a positive impact. 

Think Specialty, Think Howden Coffee

Everything we’ve discussed about specialty coffee – the focus on quality, sustainability, and community – isn’t just a set of abstract ideals. At Howden Coffee, we live and breathe these principles in everything we do.

Our roasting approach is designed to highlight the inherent flavours of each unique bean. We carefully tailor roast profiles to specific origins, coaxing out their maximum potential – whether that’s a bright, fruity Ethiopian or a rich, chocolaty Guatemalan.

Your Specialty Coffee Journey with Howden Coffee

Ready to enter the world of specialty coffee with Howden Coffee? Here are a few delicious starting points:

Minster Blend: Our signature house blend showcases heavy-bodied, dark cocoa,

and long toffee flavour that perfectly highlights the unique characteristics of specialty coffee.

Limited Releases: Keep an eye out for our limited-edition roasts, where we source rare micro-lots or coffees with experimental processing methods. This is where true coffee adventures happen!

Final Thoughts

We hope this exploration has cleared up some common misconceptions about specialty coffee. It’s not about snobbery or unattainable complexity; it’s about quality, sustainability, and the simple joy of exceptional flavour. Specialty coffee offers a world of taste experiences, supports ethical practices, and fosters a connection to the people and places behind your daily cup. 

It’s time to taste the difference!

Ready to elevate your coffee experience? Ditch the supermarket shelves and discover the incredible world of Howden Coffee. 

Stay tuned for more blog posts where we’ll be diving even deeper into the exciting world of specialty coffee. For coffee enthusiasts, the journey of exploration never ends. 

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