Specialty Coffee is seeing rapid expansion in Malaysia. However, still many consumers don't understand how coffee works and still stuck in our local coffee culture - "kopi-o" culture. In this blog, we will explore what is specialty coffee and why make it so sacred.
What is specialty coffee?
The phrase "specialty coffee" was first introduced by Erna Knutsen in the seventies. Specialty coffee was referred to coffee beans with the best flavour and growing conditions in an edition of 'Tea & Coffee Trade Journal'. In today's market, specialty coffee has become an intricate science and global phenomenon that is seeing rapid growth across all sectors.
When it comes to coffee quality, specialty coffee is the 'cream of the crop' and is likened to fine wines due to its distinctive characteristics and delicious flavour that can only be achieved under certain growing conditions.
The rise in specialty coffee culture is widely attributed to a growing number of artisan roasters and specialist independent coffee shops that are reinvigorating the coffee scene and leading the way into the fourth wave of coffee culture, bring with them an exciting range of single origin and micro-lot coffees that are batch roasted for optimum flavour.
Growing & Processing
Typically, speciality coffee is grown at high altitudes, with much care and attention from the farmer. Each stage of the process needs to be carefully planned to ensure that the quality of the coffee is not jeopardised in any way. Selective hand-picking of the beans is the best way to ensure that the beans are picked at their optimum ripeness. From there, it is sold at a premium to coffee traders, or direct to roasters.The roasters then create custom profiles for each coffee, enhancing and highlighting their natural flavours.
Green coffee is graded via visual inspection and cupping. 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). For a coffee to qualify as “speciality”, it must have zero Primary defects and less than five Secondary defects. Cupping involves roasting the coffee and brewing simply with hot water, and relies on the skill of the taster to assign scores to each of the coffee’s attributes, such the acidity, body, flavour and aroma.