To answer this question, let us first get the basics out of the way. According to SCA (Specialty Coffee Association), specialty coffee is coffee that is graded above 80 points. But how does grading work? Let’s find out!
SCA establishes the grading system for roasters. For green coffee beans, inspection is done after roasting. A 350-gram sample is taken and the number of defective beans are counted. Defects are either primary (for example, sour beans) or secondary (broken beans). The process of ‘cupping’ is also performed, in which attributes, such as flavor and aroma, are tested.
However, SCA believes a good cup of coffee is more than just the quality of beans. And hence, there are various certifications for processes such as brewing and roasting. These play a role in the final grading as well.
The grading system works as follows:
- Score between 90 and 100 — Outstanding
- Score between 85 and 89.99 — Excellent
- Score between 80 and 84.99 — Very good
All three of the above score higher than 80, and hence are classified as ‘specialty coffee’. Evidently, the in-depth and numerous stages in evaluation mean that specialty coffee is some of the best coffee you’ll get to devour. Such coffee is usually grown at high elevations and processed very carefully.