Handcrafted specialty coffee requires special attention. From the plantation to roasting, careful hands, watchful eyes, and skillful knowledge shapes the flavor and aroma of each bean. What is the difference between gourmet, specialty, and handcrafted coffee?
“Gourmet” doesn’t indicate quality. It is simply a word used to make consumers think they’re getting a premier product. Producers do not have to meet any particular standards to label their coffee gourmet.
The Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) guides all levels of professionals throughout the coffee industry. Storm Mountain is a member of the SCA’s Roasters’ Guild. To qualify as “specialty” coffee, however, growers must also meet certain quality standards. They must possess knowledge of plant husbandry, soil chemistry, microclimates, and weather patterns, and they must pick coffee cherries only when ripe. Different varietals grow best in different conditions, and growers must understand all of these variables to produce the best from each bean. Those that grow Arabica beans that rate 80 or higher on the industry scale have created a specialty coffee bean.
To qualify as specialty coffee, beans must be processed soon after picking. There are a few ways to pulp the coffee out of the cherry, but all require care to avoid damaging the bean. After this, the beans need to be dried, hulled, and screened for defects and size. Following this extremely particular work, the coffee needs to be packaged correctly, shipped, and stored in the proper conditions.
Once the coffee crosses the waters on merchant ships, it is brought through customs at our ports, where roasters pick it up. Green (raw) coffee can last unroasted for a long time in the proper conditions. Over a span of months, however, it will lose its most uniquely colorful notes.
At some roasteries, roasting machines are programmed for a certain temperature and time according to the bean being roasted and the desired flavor profile. In a handcrafted setting, however, a human roaster carefully oversees the process. They know exactly what the bean needs to reach the preferred profile and can pay attention to small changes that might affect the roast, which a programmed machine would not be able to detect. While programmed roasters can create specialty coffee, the handcrafted roaster is better able to manipulate the roast to achieve ideal color, fullness, smell, and flavor.
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