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What exactly is specialty coffee?

Today, 10 million tons of comme are consumed worldwide every year, 10% of which is specialty coffee. The other 90% is commodity coffee, bought on the stock exchange, which defines its price.

By Neville Baud - 3 May, 2022

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So how is specialty coffee distinguished from commodity coffee, also called "industrial" coffee? 

By the traceability

When we buy specialty coffee, we know exactly where the green coffee, also called "single origin" or "single origin +", comes from. We know the country, the region, the farm or the cooperative, and sometimes even the micro plot of origin of each variety we select. We also maintain a privileged and trustworthy relationship with the producers in order to respect their work and highlight the specific taste of each terroir.

Through taste and quality

Taste and quality are at the heart of specialty coffee concerns, from the cultivation of the coffee cherry to the selection of the beans and the roasting. The work is done manually, the cherries are dried or washed while respecting the environment and the beans are selected by hand. The Specialty Coffee Association assigns taste ratings out of 100 to specialty coffees and we only select coffees rated above 80/100. We then develop a slow and gentle roasting profile, which is very precise and customised to reveal and sublimate the best of the chosen green coffee. This allows us to obtain very different and specific coffees in terms of taste and body (caramel, fruits, spices, etc...).

By the variety, the arabica

In the world of specialty coffee, only the arabica coffee variety and its 40 sub-varieties are selected. Indeed, growing at an altitude of more than 800 metres, the coffee tree has the opportunity to develop more aromas and flavours and to develop a more complex and refined profile. The robusta variety, on the other hand, grows at an altitude of less than 800 metres and will therefore have to develop its immune system, the caffeine, to protect itself from the hostile environment for its survival. This will be to the detriment of its taste profile. Good news: less caffeine and more pleasure in arabica and specialty coffee!



Human ecology

In specialty coffee, the farmer sets his prices according to quality, seasonality, the work done, the plot, the terroir, etc. This allows him to continue to offer the highest quality at fair and constant prices, without going through the stock market. Choosing to consume specialty coffee is to get away from industrial and commodity consumption and to value farmers.


At Goodlife Coffee, we have decided to be part of this 3rd wave coffee movement (we will come back to this later :D) and to defend these values. In the continuity of the work of the farmers who harvest specialty coffee, we roast twice a week locally and artisanally in the countryside of Savigny and inform our Coffee Lovers of the roasting date on each Goodlife package. We recommend consumption within three months. We will be back soon with tutorials on extraction methods for home!