What’s so special about speciality coffee?

What’s so special about speciality coffee?

What’s so special about speciality coffee anyway? 

So you’ve heard a lot about speciality coffee but still don’t know what makes it different to ‘normal’ coffee? Don’t worry – you’re not alone. 

Read on for our “Beginner’s Guide to Speciality Coffee”…

What is speciality coffee?

At first glance, the main differentiator between speciality coffee and ‘normal’ coffee is the incredible flavour and taste of speciality coffee.
But, like the many layers of flavour in a speciality coffee, there are also many factors which contribute to a speciality coffee’s unique taste. 

1. Speciality coffee is coffee of the highest quality available. 
Speciality coffee is defined as coffee that scores 80 points or more on the 100-point Coffee Review scale.

2. Speciality coffee is fresh. 
There will always be a roasting date printed on the packaging of speciality coffee. The packaging should also feature a one-way valve to prevent oxygen entering the bag and compromising the coffee’s freshness. 
How fresh is fresh? This fresh.

3. Speciality coffee should be fair-traded.
Fair trade ensures that the farmers who actually grow this precious crop get a fair return on their labour and skills.

4. Speciality coffee comes with flavour notes.
Flavour notes on the packaging or on the retailer’s website describe the level of roasting and the flavours you should expect to taste. 

5. Speciality coffee is proud of its origins.
Those origins are often a single small coffee estate or micro-lot. If the packaging says anything about “Sourcing the best coffee from...” or being “Blended to perfection…”, it’s probably not speciality coffee.

6. Actually, make that very proud of its origins. 
In fact, speciality coffee is so proud of its single-source origins that coffee lovers can meet the farmers.


What is speciality coffee not?

The name says it all: speciality coffee is special. 

That means speciality coffee is not normal, and it is certainly not ‘normal’ coffee.

Normal or standard filter coffee is generally bitter, stale, weak or over-roasted. Urgh!

Why should you try speciality coffee?

Think of it like this: coffee is actually a fruit. It is the seeds of these fruits which get roasted into what we know as coffee beans. 

Like all fruit, coffee fruits are bursting with subtle flavours. Those flavours are what speciality coffee specialises in.

If you’re tired of uninspiring coffee that is only made bearable by adding sugar and milk or by eating a pastry, then you’re probably ready to try a speciality coffee.

If you’re into hand-crafted quality and supporting humble and passionate coffee farmers – instead of being part of an anonymous mass production process – then speciality coffee is definitely for you.

OK, but where to start?

The key to understanding how speciality coffee gets its flavour is in the roasting process. 

In simple terms, the longer (or darker) the coffee bean is roasted, the  more the roast flavours will increase while the acidity decreases.

What is acidity? Good question. Acidity in coffee is like the CO2 in a soft drink or the lemon you squeeze over a papaya or fish dish – acidity is what brings out the flavours of the coffee bean itself.

To sum up: a lighter roast equals more acidity and more flavours coming through from the coffee bean itself. And a heavier roast means less acidity and the roast flavours starting to dominate.

Remember, if you have superb coffee beans then you’re unlikely to opt for a very heavy roast. Why? Because it’s the same as a steak – no-one wants an amazing cut of meat to be over-grilled. So beware of a very dark roast – it’s often used to disguise the taste of poor quality beans. 

What about fruitiness?

Well, that’s self-explanatory – thanks to the acidity, it’s the subtle fruity flavours of the speciality coffee bean coming through in your coffee. 

For instance, in Horizonte’s "Floral", you’ll find delicious fruity-floral and nutty flavours.

In our "Traditional" coffee, notes of sweet lime, nut, brown sugar and caramel will all be hitting your taste buds.

If it’s a classic roasty espresso you’re looking for, you can’t go wrong with "Leal". But you’ll find that even with our Leal coffee, which has virtually no acidity, there’s still a glimpse of orange filtering through. So perhaps it’s no surprise that Leal is Horizonte’s best-selling coffee right now.

Our filter coffees "Genial", and "Fenomenal" are much lighter roasted than the espressos above. Here you will find aromas of blueberries, maple syrup, lime, brown sugar, caramel and lemon.

And that’s the beauty of speciality coffee – an astounding range of flavours but zero additives. 

So what happens next?

If you try a speciality coffee, we’re pretty sure you’ll find a whole new world of coffee opening up. Horizonte Coffee alone offers coffees from countries as distant as Ethiopia and Colombia. There’s literally so much to explore and enjoy. And the journey is just beginning….

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