What is the difference between specialty and commercial coffee grades?
Are you familiar with specialty and commercial coffee? Can you tell what is the difference between specialty and commercial coffee grades? In case you want to find the answers, this article will help you.
Generally, humans have a lot of options when they encounter the decision about the career they want to study or the school they want to attend. Coffee drinkers, either amateur or connoisseur, have mainly two choices: Specialty/gourmet coffee or commercial coffee.
To realize the difference between specialty and commercial coffee, let’s start with specialty/gourmet coffee.
Specialty/gourmet coffee is about dedication and care. This is something that exists in the whole process of the coffee chain, from the coffee seed to your cup. This long journey starts with the decision to plant the best coffee seeds. The next step is to apply the best practices for milling and to choose the harvesting methods carefully. This way, full ripeness, and non-defective beans will be ensured.
Then the coffee beans pass through the skillful hands of the roasters. For roasters, enhancing the natural flavors of each coffee variety and origin is important. Artisan coffee roasters look for the best ways of packing and storing roasted coffee beans. In the final step, an experienced barista or a self-taught person serves that delicious cup.
Two main species of coffee beans
To know the difference between specialty and commercial coffee, you must know that Arabica and Robusta are the two main species of coffee. For specialty coffee roasters, Arabica is considered the most preferred species. On the other hand, Robusta is the most preferred species for commercial coffee. This is because finding high-quality beans among Arabica beans are easy. Besides, Robusta coffee is much cheaper than Arabica beans.
Robusta coffee beans have a 2.7% caffeine content and an inherent burnt taste. While Arabica has 1.5% caffeine content and tastes fruity and floral.
Harvesting coffee: Specialty/gourmet coffee
Specialty/gourmet coffee producers and farmers pay attention to the conditions of each coffee varietal and the final quality of their product. Sometimes, they would invest in coffee cupping labs. In this process, they handpick the coffee cherries from well-tended shaded coffee trees.
Then all coffee will be cleaned and selected. The imperfect and non-fully ripe cherries will be removed. This stage is important because damaged or immature coffee cherries will ruin the pleasant flavor. After that, the coffee cherries will be taken to the processing plant using one of these methods: Wet processing or washed method, semi-washed method, or unwashed method.
Harvesting coffee: Commercial coffee
Commercial coffee is harvested with machines. Machines do not remove the damaged cherries. They harvest everything which is on the tree, even leaves, and branches. Commercial coffee producers will try their best to remove unwanted objects. However, finding damaged beans, branches, stones, or plastic particles among green coffee beans in the coffee sacks is something usual.
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Information about origin and quality
Specialty and gourmet coffee offer you some important information about its origin and quality. This way, the coffee variety, the harvesting period, the country and region of origin, the coffee farm, the growing altitude, processing method, roast style, roast date, cupping, and sensory notes can be traced easily.
These high-quality and freshly roasted coffee beans need packaging to protect them from moisture and oxygen to keep the natural aromas and excellent taste. Keep in mind that freshly roasted coffee must be consumed within four weeks after the roast date.
On the other hand, information about packaging features and traceability can hardly be found in commercial coffees. The only information you will find is the “best before date” or the “packaging date.”