What is Specialty Coffee

Specialty coffee is not just a term; it's a global movement, a
commitment to quality, and a passion for the art and science of coffee-making. It represents the pinnacle of coffee production, from the farm to the cup. Let's delve into the world of specialty coffee and understand its significance.

Specialty coffee is a world where every detail matters, ensuring that the consumer receives a cup of coffee that is exceptional and unique. It’s not just a beverage but an experience, with a story told through its flavors and aromas.


Specialty coffee refers to the entire process of coffee production, from farming and processing to roasting and brewing, all aimed at producing the best cup of coffee possible.

The Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) grades coffee beans, and only those that score 80 points or above (out of 100) on their scale can be termed as "Specialty Coffee" Specialty coffee is in all ways a superior coffee bean which is distinguished by its unique flavors, aromas, and absence of defects.

It is coffee that has been grown, harvested, processed, roasted, and brewed to the highest standards.

Historical Background

While coffee has been consumed for centuries, the term "specialty coffee" began to gain traction in the 1970s and 1980s. This was a period when consumers started showing more interest in the quality and origin of their coffee, leading to a shift away from mass-produced, generic blends.

Origins and Criteria for Specialty Coffee

The concept of terroir, borrowed from the wine industry, is central to specialty coffee. It refers to the unique combination of factors, including soil, climate, and altitude, that gives coffee its flavor.

Just as wine from Bordeaux tastes different from wine from Napa Valley, coffee from Ethiopia's Yirgacheffe region will taste different from coffee from Colombia's Huila region. An understanding of these differences is crucial for specialty coffee producers, roasters, and consumers.

Quality and Flavor

The quality and flavor of specialty coffee are paramount and are influenced by a multitude of factors throughout its journey from seed to cup. Specialty coffee beans have distinct flavors, often determined by their specific growing region, variety, and processing method. They should be free from flavor taints and defects.


One of the hallmarks of specialty coffee is its traceability. This means that consumers can trace the coffee back to its specific farm or region of origin.

Farming: Specialty coffee often comes from specific micro-climates and grown in higher altitudes that impart unique flavor profiles to the beans. Farmers use sustainable and meticulous farming practices to ensure the highest quality beans.


The method used to process coffee beans can significantly impact flavor. Specialty coffee producers often experiment with different processing methods to achieve desired flavor profiles.


Specialty coffee roasting is a meticulous process that requires a deep understanding of both the science and art of roasting. Through careful selection of beans, precise control of the roasting process, and continuous experimentation, specialty roasters aim to bring out the best in every bean, offering consumers a unique and high-quality coffee experience. Roasting is a transformative process that turns green coffee beans into aromatic brown beans rich in polyphenols and numerous health giving nutritional compounds all in the most delicious and satisfying cup of coffee possible.

Economic and Social Impact

Many specialty coffee roasters engage in direct trade, buying beans directly from farmers. This often results in better prices for farmers and a closer relationship between producer and consumer.


Specialty coffee often emphasizes sustainable farming practices, which can be better for the environment and ensure the longevity of coffee farming in a region

Specialty coffee represents a shift in the coffee industry towards the highest quality, sustainability, and a deeper connection between the consumer and the origin of their coffee. It's a celebration of the unique flavors that coffee can offer and a commitment to preserving and enhancing those flavors at every step of the process.

Vajra Coffee is passionate about offering only the finest organic specialty grade coffee on the planet.

Shop Our Specialty Grade Coffee