Specialty Coffee -- Coffees are scored globally using a scale from 0 to 100, as established by the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA), reference http://sca.coffee. Coffees scoring over 80 are considered "Specialty". Rating components include aroma, body, acidity, aftertaste, balance, sweetness, as well as specific and overall flavor notes.
Coffee farms and plantations within all coffee producing countries offer some type of specialty coffee offerings. It is not a specific plant, genus, or location that yields specialty grades, but more the harvest and processing of the cherries. Generally the best 5% of a coffee tree yield can meet the ripeness (sugar level) and characteristics to yield a high grade. From there a number of wet or dry fermentation and processing techniques can be used to build character -- that ends up in export channels across the world. Quantity -- the best 5% only of trees earmarked for this level of quality, is very much limited. This is why best coffees, specialty grade, are available only from small batch artisan roasters such as Montgomery Coffee Company. The big roasters, low price or high price, simply cannot offer specialty grade quality as there is not enough produced to support a volume of sales.
Bulk coffee companies procure quality levels appropriate for their overall competitive strategy (low price or high quality). Those working toward high quality work directly with in-country exporters, targeting the best scores they can, while also achieving the volumes they need. Circumstances may vary, but in general, the best coffee through conventional (chain store, etc) channels will score in the 60s and 70s as defined by SCA.
Roasting -- How the coffees are treated after import have a huge impact on overall cup flavor. Properly roasted, specialty coffees have very unique and truly phenomenal flavor profiles. Different regions around the world have different core flavor notes, varying within local climates and topology. Exploring these flavors is a part of specialty coffee magic. However, lesser quality coffees lack many if not all of the regional flavor distinctions. To compensate, and give the coffee "flavor", roasters tend to roast darker. This means natural proteins and sugars have gone beyond "caramelization", and into "carbon" - which to many means "bitter" or "burned". Over-roasting, tends to be the norm. Oddly, the darker the roast, the more aromatic the bag (due to secretion of oils). This is why some coffee shops may be impactful from an aroma perspective -- but lack in the end cup quality.
Time since roasting is a key component in quality. Quality scores are conducted 24 hours after roasting and decline from there. Artisan roasters pride themselves in getting coffees to consumers in as few days as possible. Properly bagged and sealed, excellent freshness can last at least 2 weeks, usually 4 weeks, before degradation. Now consider commercially available coffee (already suffering from lower scores), and the timing involved with big-batch roasting, packaging, getting on pallets ahead of shipping, truck time to regional distribution points, warehouse time, truck time to local distribution points, on to store warehousing, and finally to a point of sale -- how long has that been? Worse still -- are retailers that put coffee in unsealed "bins" where oxygen robs the coffee of flavors quickly. Note that most of these are also "over roasted" as those origin flavors, if any, went away earlier in time.
In conclusion -- trying a "specialty coffee" from a local artisan roaster, who knows what they are doing, is an experience you want to repeat -- leaving "conventional and commercial" coffee behind. Give it a try -- and then try another region, and another, and let us know what you like.
Wholesale - Office, Cafe, Restaurant
Retail - Local Delivery or Shipped
Montgomery Coffee Company LLC imports and sells gourmet specialty coffees locally within Montgomery County region, with shipping available anywhere within the USA. Read below to discover what sets "specialty coffee" apart from so-called "conventional", or "commercial" coffee.
WHOLESALE -- We offer competitively priced 5lb bags of high quality coffees roasted to order. Brewing equipment may be available at no cost depending on volume, private labeling is available, as well as custom retail packaging. Please use the "Contact" link to ask about products and services -- every solution is based on need. We handle restaurants, resorts, cafes, office buildings, apartments, and can work with retail outlets to provide a compelling coffee product.
RETAIL -- Please use the "Order Beans Online" link to purchase coffees (5lb bags only at this time), for local delivery (city of Montgomery), or shipped within the USA.