The exact definition is given by the Specialty Coffee Association: it’s coffee that can gain a score of at least 80 points on a scale from 1 to 100. But how do you reach such level?

It’s necessary to maintain excellence throughout the totality of the coffe chain of supply, from the green bean that must not show primary flaws, to the cup that has to possess a clear and defined personality.

It starts with the plantation, it’s here that, to give life to what wants to be a Special Coffee, you must carefully choose the agricultural practices, select the most interesting botanical varieties - and often the more delicate to cultivate, exclusively of Arabica species, execute the harvest only via manual picking (the only way to pick, from the plant, only the most mature fruits, leaving the ones that are still unripe, that would ruin the tasting) and adopt, often experimenting multiple times, the manufacturing process post harvesting that makes it possible to create specific cup profiles.

The attention to every minute detail continues to the roasting phase, when the roaster has the fundamental task of extracting from the beans the best that this type of coffee can offer.

The roasting of the Speciality Coffee is executed on the product when really fresh and has to, through the careful control of the temperature and the time of the roasting, avoid depriving the coffee of its special characteristics. Once it’s done, it has to be commercialized not after 6 months from the day it’s roasted.

Last but crucial is the barista’s move that, thanks to their professionalism, must enhance the Speciality Coffee’s characteristics and extract the coffee keeping in mind factors like the water’s temperature, the granulometry and how long the contact between the water and the ground coffee lasts.

Only after tasting the Speciality Coffee in the cup, following the tasting protocol (called “cupping” in technical terms), established by the Speciality Coffee Association, you can judge if it maintained all the characteristics that effectively make it “special”, namely an evident personality given by its aroma and.by its tasting notes. If the coffee scores at least 80 points, then it can be classified as Speciality Coffee. Essentially, it’s a completely traceable coffee, generally roasted clear by small artisanal roasters, lacking bitter notes, enriched by flavors different from the usual (chocolate, hazelnut, caramel) that evoke fruity and floral scents, distinguished by a pleasant sourness, and extracted not only in espresso but also with scenographic methods with filter and manual.

The history of the Speciality Coffee begins in 1974, when a roaster named Erna Knutsen used this term for the first time to describe those coffees with a fuller and unmistakable flavor.

But it’s only in the latest years, since 2002, that the culture of the Speciality Coffee received a strong impulse by the so called third wave of coffee, a cultural movement of anglosaxon origins, that reignited the interest for coffee as an artisanal product, and that triggered tighter relationships between growers, traders, roasters and baristas, giving life to an actual revolution within the sector - up there with the one found with wine in the late 90s.



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