What is Specialty Coffee?

What is Specialty Coffee?

Specialty coffee is quality, hand-picked coffee with little to no defects. Simple, right? 

Let's do a deeper dive into the question, "what is specialty coffee?".

The Two Types of Coffee

Specialty coffee is sourced very different than that of commodity coffee. Commodity coffee is typically lower quality, indiscriminately picked coffee with moderate defects. 

Commodity coffee is more than likely the coffee you will find at most grocery store chains. 

On the other hand, many specialty coffees can be purchased from small coffee roasting companies, like Royalty Premium Coffee


The major difference between commodity and specialty coffee is how the coffee is sourced.

For most specialty coffee, you can easily detect where the coffee is coming from, the processing method used, and even fine details such as: altitude of the coffee, variety of the coffee, and name of the farm!

If a bag of coffee is from a single farm, it is more than likely going to be of very high quality.

Each bean in that bag is going to be nearly identical to the one next to it. Exposed to the same nutrients and environmental conditions, you get an extremely consistent cup of coffee.

For example, this coffee is from a collection of only 55 female coffee producers in Junin, Peru. 

Coffee that is from a single farm or a single region is called, single origin coffee

While they may be slightly more expensive than commodity coffees, they are exponentially better tasting!


Have you ever wondered down the coffee aisle of a grocery store and wondered, "why is there hardly any whole bean coffee?"

There is a very simple reason to that: commodity coffee beans have defects. There are many different types of defects that a coffee bean can incur, both in the agricultural process & roasting process.

Agricultural Defects

Specialty coffee is hand-picked coffee. Only dark red coffee cherries are harvested off of the coffee plant. Anything that isn't is left on to be picked at another time.

Farmers aren't allowed to simply claim that they produce specialty coffee. In fact, coffee graders visit the processing facilities to count the number of defects per a certain amount of beans to verify that it is indeed specialty coffee. 

Commodity coffee is heavily commercialized. Large machines automatically harvest the coffee cherries off of the trees and get collected, even if they aren't exactly ripe.

You wouldn't eat an unripe, light green banana... would you? 

If you answered no, then why would you drink unripe coffee? 

To help cover unripe or malnourished coffee beans, the coffee is roasted and then grinded so you can't see individual defects.

With such mass production of coffee, there is fewer measures of quality control. 

When mass amounts of raw coffee sits in a warehouse or is wrongfully picked from the tree, it has the ability to grow mold. Surprisingly, the presence of mold on coffee is acceptable to a certain degree in commodity coffee.

Roasting Defects

The roaster has an important job in quality control as well. 

If the roaster does not properly control the temperature of a coffee roast, scorching can happen leaving burnt marks on the bean.

If enough scorching happens, the result is a smoky & ashy flavor in the cup of coffee.

Could this be why your grocery store coffee tastes bitter?

It can certainly add to the bitterness of commodity coffee. However, many commercialized coffee companies insist on roasting the coffee beans to an unhealthy level of dark, to cover up defects.

What is left is you putting in an immense amount of sugar and cream to cover up the coffee's bitter taste.

Specialty coffee roasters like Royalty Premium Coffee roast only in small batches. Small batch coffee roasting allows for a higher level of quality control. Each roast requires a delicate control of temperature and airflow to ensure a flavorful cup of coffee. 


If you're tired of bitter coffee, know that there is a solution out there. Better coffee exists that is characterized as smooth, natural, & flavorful

You can see our selection of single-origin coffees on our website here if you're ready to upgrade your coffee.

With specialty coffee, you can be certain you are only getting the best coffee beans!

Look for additional certifications such as USDA organic coffees, such as our Ethiopian.

And, make sure your coffee is environmentally friendly, so look for Rainforest Alliance coffees such as our Colombian

Let us know what your takeaway is from this article in the comment section below!

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