What is specialty coffee?

What is specialty coffee?

What exactly do we mean when we talk about “Specialty Coffee”? Many of you will have heard the expression, but it’s often hard to find a clear, precise and logical definition. Until now! Read on to find out all you need to know…

An introduction to Specialty Coffee

A specialty coffee is a gourmet coffee free of defects (also known as “fine coffee” or “premium coffee”) that has been carefully crafted by producers using methods and processes that make it entirely unique.

Specialty coffee must have traceable origins: it is sourced from a particular area or region with its own identity, meaning that each cup of coffee has a story to tell. Those origins are reflected in the taste, with a specialty coffee typically offering a combination of complex flavours (acidity, bitterness, sweetness, etc.) and a wide array of aromas (fruity, gourmet, spiced, etc.).

Specialty coffee


The Specialty Coffee Association

The SCA is the Specialty Coffee Association, whose goal is to spread the knowledge of great coffee.

Specialty coffees are high-end coffee-based drinks that are recognised (in a specific market and at a given time) as being of a unique quality, and as offering distinct and superior taste and character compared to regular coffee-based drinks. The drink must be made from green coffee grown in select climates and must fulfil a series of demanding standards regarding its production, treatment, roasting, storage and preparation.

You can read all about it on the SCA website.

Cafés Lugat specialty coffee

Cafés Lugat specialty coffee

Similar to wine, the concept of appellation (“designation of origin”) is used for specialty coffees in France: our friends at Cafés Lugat, specialty coffee experts, classify all their coffees under different appellations. Their full range of coffees are available from MaxiCoffee.

To surprise your taste buds and develop your palate, be sure to look out for our ever-growing range of specialty coffees.

Where does specialty coffee come from?

Historically speaking, the term “specialty coffee” first originated in the USA. In the United Kingdom, France and Scandinavia, the market for high quality coffee has been established for many years now, driven by the emergence of specialist coffee shops. It took until only a few years ago for these coffees to arrive in Europe as part of the “third wave”, the term coined for the elevation of coffee to the status of exceptional food product. This “third wave of coffee” started in 2002, thanks to the work of pioneering craft roasteries and baristas who helped to change people’s perceptions of coffee by placing an emphasis on the importance of the whole process from farmer to cup.

Freshly harvested specialty coffee

Freshly roasted specialty coffee

Specialty coffee in a Chemex

Specialty coffee: the revolution is upon us!

Popping down to your local café to enjoy a good cup of coffee will come as second nature to many of you, fans of high quality coffee. But these days, it’s not enough just to taste the coffee; people want to know the origins of their coffee, including how it was produced and roasted. Tasting coffee has become a multi-sensual experience!

The specialty coffee revolution is gathering pace and we’re witnessing a widespread (and positive!) change in people’s attitudes, a movement towards coffee that is grown, roasted, prepared and tasted with RESPECT. And it’s up to us to spread the word about this new world, so that as many people as possible can become a part of it :-)

Photo credits: SCAA, Cafés Lugat, Julien Calsat

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