Specialty Coffee VS Commercial Coffee

Back to the days when coffee was first introduced to America, everyone was selling coffee as a flavor in general, because of the huge demand for the product, leaving the technical and scientific magic of the product behind. Commercial coffee is commonly found in many supermarkets, sometimes even at gas stations or offices. The only flavor commercial coffee has is the flavor of coffee. Though, lots of commercial coffee are experiencing defects and problems due to lack of quality control, which wouldn't even affect the flavor of coffee at all, as the commercial quality standards fell behind specialty. Therefore, commercial coffee is over-burned, as its development time in roast goes all the way to the second crack of green seed. It's done specifically to control the consistency of coffee when in reality they just burn coffee and call it a day.


The main difference between commercial coffee and specialty coffee is quality. Specialty coffee comes only from specialty farms, that feature technologies sourcing beans, eliminating all over-grown, under-grown, and defected beans away. Workers on specialty coffee farms get paid much more, due to the process of sourcing where each batch of seeds is carefully checked three times by workers and machines for only the best green seeds. Doing so, the price for specialty coffee trading is much higher, that commercial coffee. That's why markets for commercial and specialty coffee are so different and usually never cross each other. Besides the higher price, specialty coffee also has to be roasted to the golden ratio, which can be only achieved in specialty certified coffee lab, or with help of experienced specialty coffee roaster. Yet, there is only one way to roast coffee right! The problem is every coffee origin has to be treated individually. That's where barista comes in too, who takes roasted coffee from roastery and dials it in on espresso and drip for the natural sweetness, that coffee carries all the way from its origin where it was planted.


Why do we care so much about specialty coffee?


Have you every disliked coffee because it was extremely bitter or sour, heavy or watery light, or just tasting very bad in general? That's where the whole specialty coffee association of America (SCAA) comes in! SCAA is based in Long Beach, California (https://sca.coffee). It is an international association and institution of coffee, that has been researching coffee for more than 30 years. Their goal is to achieve the success of specialty coffee market and support all farmers, especially farmers from the third-world countries, who are suffering poverty or environmental crisis.


When coffee is done right through all its stages, Barista has a chance to dial it in his brewing method to get the sweetest spot of its nature. You will be truly surprised how different can coffee taste if it's brewed using different ways (V60, Chemex, Aeropress, Espresso) and how good it can be. For more acidic and clear coffee, barista would brew it using a filter in form of Chemex or V60. For the heavier body, he would also steam beans and apply pressure to it, like in Aeropress, or prefer old-school tradition French Press recipe to get a full heavy body of the drink. For stronger caffeinated coffee, barista usually makes cold brew, which takes around 2 days to make where caffeine gets distributed everywhere in the water. Though, the best way to make coffee is espresso, which brings in average 40 gram shot of extracted beans pulled through at least 9 bars of pressure in a commercial espresso machine. 


Yet, that is what makes coffee so magical. It's just a water infused with a coffee bean that shares around 100 different chemical reactions in process of brewing, bringing the whole origin with it. Coffee can express up to 800 flavors, even if it looks like a black drink, that shares a zero fat content. 


Next stage after being introduced to specialty coffee; learn tasting pallets and develop sensing skills. And what can be even more perfect in this world to drink a double shot of zero-fat water infused with coffee, tasting up to 800 different notes and sugars, that traveled all the way from a different part of the world to be extracted into a sweet espresso? I call it Gold and it makes me going every day. Cheers!


-Bulat Khromykh