When Purchasing Specialty Coffee
So the coffee scene is changing and the quality of coffee you can get nowadays is quite amazing. Nowadays we have coffee known as specialty coffee which is some of the highest qualities of coffee that’s traceable and have passed a certain standard set by the governing coffee community domestically and internationally.
A lot of coffee shops are now roasting specialty coffee and improving the selections of coffee they offer to customers. Sometimes you don’t really know if the coffee being sold is specialty or not and you may want to make sure.
In this post I’ll introduce the 3 things I keep in mind when purchasing specialty coffee from a coffee shop.
1. Coffee Shop Website and Reputation
I like to check the website of the coffee shop and look at the values or the coffee page. You can easily tell if they’re really particular about their coffee and want to showcase the amazing coffee they have to offer. If they represent themselves as a third wave coffee shop you may find some info about specialty coffee.
I’ll take Kariomons Coffee Roaster as an example. Although in Japanese, you can tell that they’ve put a lot of effort into creating an educational website so that customers know the process of how coffee becomes coffee, as well as tutorials of how you can brew coffee at home.
Since they directly trade coffee, they’ve also put up pictures of the farmers they’re associated with which shows quite a lot of transparency and builds a lot of trust.
This coffee roaster has a lot of reputation of providing delicious specialty coffee and is known throughout Nagasaki prefecture and Kyushu as well.
2. Information of the Coffee
Coffee that’s usually under the “Specialty Coffee” term is traceable. In other words, you know the origin of the coffee. For example, Nicaragua. But that’s not enough. You’ll usually find the name of the region or coffee farm such as “Finca San Jose”. Then you’ll find some more detailed information like the variety ( Typica, Maragogipe, Caturra, Geisha ), processing methods (washed, natural, pulped-natural) and altitude.
The above picture is from Tana Cafe, and you can clearly see the information as well as the picture of the farmer who is producing it.
As long as I can know something more than just the country name of the coffee, I’m quite convinced that the coffee is traceable and can be termed “specialty coffee”.
3. Sample Tasting
Many times you’ll find third wave cafes providing a tasting booth where you can sample the various coffee for sale. Each coffee will have its own name tag of origin and flavor profiles. The roasters and coffee staff usually sample the coffee beforehand and then discuss the types of flavor profiles they are able to detect and agree on which ones to use that’s best understandable for their customers.
Just the fact that you can find some comments on the flavor profiles show the amount of time and dedication the coffee shop staff has put into their coffee for their customers.
If you can’t find a sample booth, you can try asking the staff for a taste of the coffee you’re interested in purchasing. They’ll probably be more than happy to share with you the story of the coffee they import and roast.
I hope you were able to get out something useful from this post. This is what I look for in Japan when I’m specifically looking for specialty coffee. I’m not very particular about my coffee, whether it’s specialty coffee or a lesser quality. What I’m more interested in is the way it’s been roasted, the roaster’s skill in other words. I also like to try the various types of blends that the coffee shop offers although it may be difficult if they only serve specialty coffee.
There are still many coffee roasters who don’t necessarily look for the best of the best coffee but try to improve their roasting skills and create various blends of various roast levels as well as making the most of the coffee that they get.
However, a lot of countries like Sweden, Australia, New Zealand, the US are taking coffee to the next level in terms of only serving specialty coffee and my post may apply to people living in these countries.
Let me know what you think and if you want to add anything that maybe useful to this post and everyone who reads this. Have a good day.