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What is specialty coffee?

Specialty coffee green beans in a jute sack
Updated 17 June, 2022

Specialty coffee refers to the highest quality coffee in accordance with scoring standards and coffee grading guidelines, being that green coffee beans score 80 points or more on the 100-point Coffee Review scale, a sample of 350 grams of green beans contains a maximum of 5 bean defects and the need for the coffee to be selectively handpicked, of only mature beans.

Further stages of the specialty coffee supply chain can also be covered by guidelines related to specialty coffee, such as the roasting of the specialty coffee green beans and the preparation of the roasted coffee beans by the barista.

Specialty coffee might sometimes be called a gourmet coffee, third wave coffee or craft coffee in some circles, in reference to what would be classed as "specialty coffee".

Green coffee bean grading: Coffee Review scale

The Coffee Review scale is used to grade green coffee beans on a scale from 0 to 100 points, with specialty coffee being defined as green beans scoring between 80 to 100 points. Within the specialty coffee point scoring scale, further grading levels are assigned, being:

  • Coffee scoring from 80 to 84.99 points is graded as "Very Good".
  • Coffee that scores from 85 to 89.99 points is graded as "Excellent".
  • Coffee scoring from 90 to 100 points is graded as "Outstanding".

Ready for some specialty coffee?

Buy beans from Italian specialty roasters in the Buy Coffee section or explore cafes and roasters in the City Guides and Regional Guides.