A rich aroma of ripe blueberries, blackcurrants and sweet vanilla fills the air. An alluring hint of bergamot tickles the nose, reminding you of an aromatic cuppa filled to the brim with Earl Grey tea. The flavour is marked by an acidic hint of forest berries, which goes on lingering on your palate for a while after you’re finished.
This isn’t a description of a gourmet dessert. Nor are these the notes of premium wine. These are, in fact, flavours found in specialty coffee. Most people don’t know that roasted coffee is actually one of the most complex beverages out there as far as chemical composition is concerned: it’s made up of thousands (!) of unique chemical compounds, which end up creating a myriad of natural flavours. From blueberries, strawberries, oranges and tamarind to caramel, dark chocolate or mulled wine… You may even be left wondering at times if it’s truly coffee you’re drinking! Join us on a journey across extraordinary stories hidden under these unparalleled flavours.
What Is Specialty Coffee?
The term “specialty coffee” first came into being in 1973. It appeared in Tea & Coffee Trade Journal, where it was used to describe single-origin coffees cultivated in unique microclimates and marked by exceptional flavour characteristics. Such premium coffees have nothing to do with the bitter, stimulating liquid brewed and gulped down hurriedly in the morning. These are extraordinarily rich drinks meant to be enjoyed slowly, with great care and attention—just like the finest wine.
A few decades later, the Specialty Coffee Association (also known as SCA) devised the specialty coffee grading scale, used nowadays by certified coffee tasters to evaluate the world’s finest coffees. Various attributes are carefully considered: aroma, taste, aftertaste, acidity, body, balance of flavours, sweetness, how “clean” the taste is… In the end, only those varieties that score 80 or more points out of the possible 100 are awarded the coveted title of “specialty coffee”.
Extraordinary Specialty Coffee Stories
Each specialty coffee is absolutely unique and tells its own extraordinary story: from a coffee tree planted in a certain patch of land all the way to the fragrant cuppa nestled cosily in your hands. To obtain its exceptional flavours and score the points required, such coffee must complete a long, difficult journey, every stage of which is only made possible by the attention, love and care showered over it by hundreds of different people. Let’s delve deeper into the challenges that must be overcome:
Unique place of origin. The quality and flavour palette of each specialty coffee is impacted greatly by the soil it’s sprung from and the weather conditions it’s been surrounded by. Specialty varieties are grown in the highlands: this slows down the ripening process and endows the beans with a particularly complex taste. The coffee plants are tended after with exceptional love and care. Only with the help of dedicated farmers and the right climate conditions can these plants eventually provide coffee connoisseurs with a truly special harvest.
Coffee cherries picked by hand. Once the cherries have ripened, they’re picked exclusively by hand, with every branch and every fruit being lovingly cared for. Only those cherries that have ripened fully are selected, ensuring that the coffee plant is not harmed in the process.
The magic of coffee processing. After handpicking the cherries, the right processing method is selected: it might involve a more traditional technique (that is, a natural, washed or semi-washed process) or an innovative, experimental method (like the anaerobic process, for example). Once processed, the beans are then left out to dry.
Careful selection. As if in a fancy beauty contest, the processed beans are afterwards examined carefully: only those that have no defects at all are allowed to go on to the next stage of their journey.
Specialty coffee title. Green coffee buyers now have their chance to shine: filled with high hopes, they taste the coffee and grade it based on the SCA scale. If 80 or more points are collected, the coffee then moves forward.
Alchemy-like roasting process. Like a true magician, an experienced coffee roaster chooses which taste notes to unveil and emphasise. It is this stage that the final flavour of your specialty brew ultimately depends on.
Extraordinary story in your cup of coffee. The last chapter in this story is all up to you: as a coffee drinker, you’re also the main hero in this tale of flavours. Depending on your chosen brewing method and even your frame of mind, different notes will take up the offer of joining in on a unique dance of flavours. There are countless extraordinary journeys hidden in each specialty variety…
Your Personal Specialty Coffee Guide: “Black Crow White Pigeon”
Have we managed to convince you that specialty coffee is worth a try yet? To make the journey even smoother, we’ve got a whole range of unique specialty varieties ready for you. Meet the “Black Crow White Pigeon” line of coffees! The main characters in, and the narrators of, this tale—the Black Crow and the White Pigeon—embody the remarkably varied flavour palette of specialty coffees: from dark, deep, earthy notes (like dark chocolate or cinnamon) to light, subtle aromas (such as jasmine and citrus fruit). Every possible wonder of taste fits onto this lengthy scale, starting with inscrutable darkness and transforming slowly into the sort of white that takes your breath away.
Specialty coffee beans Black Crow White Pigeon Colombia La Esperanza, 200 g
Ground specialty coffee Black Crow White Pigeon Ethiopia Burtukaana, 250 g
Each coffee, along with its unique story, is nestled inside a beautiful package that may remind you of a book chapter: carefully numbered, these chapters go all the way from 1 to 24. The Black Crow invites you to stay grounded by indulging in rich, earthy aromas, while the White Pigeon is here to help you soar ever higher with its extraordinarily subtle, sublime notes. Feel free to start your own personal journey from any chapter.
Diving into the realm of specialty coffees is like embarking on a new book. Every chapter—and every specialty coffee—promises to unveil a new layer of the story, a new aroma, a new flavour. We invite you to set out on an adventure-filled journey across the world of specialty coffee varieties. You’ll have a chance to construct your own extraordinary coffee story as you go along.