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Specialty Coffee

In 1974, the term specialty coffee was first used by Erna Knutsen. He used it to describe coffees with special taste characteristics. The term is protected by the American Specialty Coffee Association (SCAA) guidelines.

Specialty coffee defines particularly high-quality premium coffees that, after a clearly defined tasting and evaluation process, achieve a quality score of at least 80 out of a possible 100 (trophy points). Trophy score is determined by certified Q-Graders.

How is specialty coffee rated?

Coffees with a cup score below 80 points are considered mainstream coffee. Coffees with a cup score of at least 80 points are called specialty coffees.

To better define the quality levels on the "specialty coffee" label, there are three classes of specialty coffees:

80 - 84.75 points = very good coffee

These coffees differ from mainstream coffees in that they have special taste characteristics. The flavors are more subtle and the coffee beans do not show serious defects.

85 - 89.75 points = excellent coffee / Cup of Excellence winner

Coffees with complex and elegant aromas and a pleasant sweetness. These coffees are sold as special editions by roasters as they are usually in small quantities in stock.

90 to 100 points = outstanding coffee / President's Award

Less than 1% of coffees harvested worldwide receive this grade. Aromas are more unusual and nuanced than other coffees.


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