What Makes Specialty Coffee Special?

Did you know that the term specialty coffee is more than just a fancy name given to coffee drinks as a marketing strategy. Specialty coffee is actually a term used to describe a type of coffee that qualifies based on different standards.

In order to be considered a specialty coffee, the coffee beans must be grown in a particular way and handled with care every step of the way, from farm to your cup.

Coffee Grading

The quality of coffee is graded on a 100 point scale. In order to qualify as a specialty coffee, it must score a 80 or above on the coffee grading scale. This grading is done by visual inspection and a process called cupping.

A visual inspection includes taking a sample of green coffee beans and looking for defects whether that be black beans, sour beans, or broken beans. Cupping is the process of roasting and brewing the beans with water. The process then relies on the taster to score the coffee based on attributes such as the acidity, body, flavor and aroma.

Let’s take a look at some of the qualifications a coffee must meet in order to be graded high enough to be considered a specialty coffee.

Specialty Coffee Qualifications

Growing Regions

Countries like Ethiopia, Kenya, and Columbia are most well known for growing specialty coffee but other countries are starting to follow suit. It is important for specialty coffee to be grown at the right altitude, in healthy soil, with the right amount of sunlight. Most specialty coffee’s are grown in the shade vs. the sun as that produces a denser coffee bean with better flavor.

Supply Chain

After a specialty coffee is grown and picked it goes through multiple exchanges of hands as it makes its way to your local coffee shop. It is important that the quality of the coffee is preserved every step of the way.

Once coffee is picked it must then go on to a mill of some kind. The speed at which this delivery is made can greatly impact the picked coffee bean and should be done quickly for the quality to be preserved.

After the coffee works its way carefully through the mill it is then handed off to the roaster. The roaster must accurately identify the potential for the coffee, properly develop the flavors and ultimately properly package the roasted product.


The final step to creating specialty coffee in Downtown Minneapolis lies in the hands of our baristas at 7 Corners Coffee Shop. The brewing of specialty coffee can be done with a steeping method like a French press, a drip method, or as an espresso. No matter the method, our baristas are specifically trained on the standards of water quality, brewing temperature, coffee to water ratio and extraction, which all must be applied to create a specialty coffee beverage.

Join us in one of our coffee shops to taste the difference in a specialty cup of coffee.

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