Third Wave – Specialty Coffee

By Balbina on Monday February 15th, 2016

Instant, ground coffee, espresso or latte. These are still the most familiar terms connected with coffee. However, this dictionary is expanding for a while now by terms such as Specialty Coffee, Chemex, drip or Flat White. Where did it come from? From the love for coffee.

Out of this love and high quality, Specialty coffee was born. What makes it so special? One of the most important factors is the way of growing and harvesting coffee beans. Demanding conditions, care of growers and local producers add up and give high quality and tasty coffee.

Licensed quality graders (Q-graders) evaluate coffee samples in three stages. The first one involves the assessment of green beans for color, maturity, moisture and any primary and secondary defects. Specialty coffee can have up to five secondary defects and none of the primary. The second step is to evaluate roasted coffee beans. Too many of lighter beans could mean that batch is immature and musty. The ultimate test is the third stage, evaluating the taste. During a cup tasting Q-graders assess aroma, acidity, sweetness, balance, body, clean cup and aftertaste. Coffee beans that get over 80 points out of 100 possible qualify as Specialty coffee, those below 80 as commercial one.

Growing and processing of coffee beans is not everything though. To achieve the perfect taste, coffee beans require proper roast. Roasting is much softer than for commercial coffee.  Way of roasting is chosen based on experience and knowledge of roast master, as every coffee will require different approach.

After roasting it’s time for coffee brew. Here is where the biggest fun starts. Traditional pressure brew move towards the manual methods, like drip, Chemex, Aeropress or Siphon coffee maker. It’s not only precision that counts but also awareness and appropriate heating that will extract the best coffee flavor. The key here is the grinding for selected brewing method, proper amount of coffee, which is usually 6-6.5 grams per 100 ml of water, temperature of water, but most of all barista, who will guide through the entire brewing process. So what do we get in return? Coffee with a delicate but deep flavor, where you can sense the sweetness and acidity reminding us the fact, that coffee is still a fruit. It will remind more of a tea than typical, black and strong coffee.

Of course to experience good coffee, we shouldn’t be limited to coffee shops only. By purchasing basic “coffee equipment” such as hand-held grinder, brew scale, drip or Chemex, as well as proper Specialty coffee available in every alternative cafe, we can play home barista and enjoy our favorite cup every day.

Despite the fact that Specialty coffee represents only 1% of the market, it successfully won our hearts. Because once you enter this world, it’s difficult to get out.

The third wave immersed Warsaw. We can show some great roasters, a variety of alternative cafes and meetings with cup tasting.  You will find all Specialty coffee related topics in continuation of Third Wave article series.

Good Coffee Is a Human Right



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