What is choice coffee?

Selective vs. commodity coffee

You've got a craving for a cup of coffee. No matter what your preference and whether you prefer coffee with milk or simply espresso, you have two choices - choice or commodity coffee. What's the difference between the two?

Commodity coffee

I'll start with the simpler one, namely commodity coffee. Ground coffee or coffee beans that you can buy in any supermarket or other ordinary shop. Coffee from global brands - that's commodity coffee.

Collecting commodity coffee

Thereasons why we refer to this coffee as commodity coffee start with the coffee plantations, regardless of whether they arearabica or robustaplantations .

The fruit of the coffee tree - the coffee cherries - is harvested by machine, so no one is concerned about whether all the cherries are ripe enough. This means that cherries that are green and unripe, damaged, infested with pests or overripe are harvested.

O ne of the main uses of commodity coffee is for instant coffee. In this case, the beans are ground and made into coffee which is sprayed and dried.

Roasting of commodity coffee

Because of the different maturity of the beans and the attempt to hide all imperfections and unevenness in the taste, commodity coffee is roasted very dark. This creates a uniform "burnt" profile that neutralizes all flavors and aromas, so it practically doesn't matter which package you reach for. The only difference is the package size and price.

By virtueof the dark roast, the beans become soft and thus break easily. And that's not the only "specialty" of commodity coffee. In addition to cherry picking and roasting, sustainability and transportation are also neglected , which leads to the occasional pebble in the package in addition to broken coffee.

Selective coffee

The Association of Selective Coffee, defines a selective coffee as "acoffee or coffee experience that is valued for its distinctive characteristics and that adds significant value in the marketplace."

What do we mean by this?

Selected coffee is specific in its quality and the care that goes into each bean, which starts on the coffee plantation. Currently, only coffee from the arabica coffee plant is considered to be a choice coffee . The specifications, however, do not end there.

There are a total of 6,000 varieties of coffee in the world. But only robusta and arabica coffee are processed.

Growing and harvesting the finest coffee

The coffee plants themselves are given great care. They are more likely to be found at higher altitudes. Farmers are concerned with quality rather than quantity and only pick sufficiently ripe coffee cherries, for which they are ideally also paid accordingly. The cherries are picked by hand, hence the name - coffee selection.

Thanks to handpicking and careful selection, you will get the best coffee cherries in the case of choice coffee. Source: Andres Hernandez | Unsplash.com

Green coffee

The coffee is evaluated and inspected several times during its journey to the customer. The whole process starts with green coffee. The coffee beans then go through sorting, various quality tests and tasting, which is evaluated by a green coffee buyer.

The coffee receives points from the tasters, which are then added up and if hasmore than 80 points (out of 100), it can be classified as a choice coffee. This is associated withSCA or CQI certification . Read more about how coffee quality is assessed.

Green coffee buyers are such coffee sommeliers. They have to identify the quality of the coffee by cupping (coffee tasting). These people have a big role in communicating information about coffee to roasters and cafes.

Roasting a selection of coffees

Green beans that have achieved certification are then taken to roasters where the roaster faces a difficult task. He has to get the best out of the coffee and it is largely up to him to determine how the roasting process affects the taste of the coffee.

Coffee roasting is an art that requires a high degree of knowledge and experience to create flavour profiles at a selective level. The coffee must be carefully monitored and controlled at all times during the roasting process to ensure that it does not burn.

Preparation of a selection of coffees

Even after roasting, the coffee needs to be handled in a specific way to ensure that you get all the desired flavours and aromas from the coffee.

Care must be taken in the preparation, including the grinding coarseness, water temperature and preparation technique, but this varies depending on the method used.

Specifications of the coffee selection

So what does a coffee have to meet to be considered a speciality coffee?

  • Itis a100% Arabica bean (it can also be a blend of several Arabica varieties).
  • You should be able to read virtually all the information about the coffeefrom the package - where it was grown, who grew it, who roasted it...
  • Thecoffee must meet the SCA rating - i.e. it must be rated at least 80 points (some roasters consider a coffee with a rating of 85+ to be a choice coffee).
  • Selective coffee is respectful of nature - machines destroy coffee trees and they often do not reproduce again, proper care and hand picking is sustainable.
  • Farmers are paid fairly for their coffee, it is so-called fair trade coffee. (Note that not all fair trade coffee is choice).

Moreover, fair trade coffee contribut es to thedevelopment of communities of people who are interested in fair trade coffee. In fact, many coffee festivals or coffee and barista competitions are created thanks to it.

Where to buy specialty coffee?

As I mentioned at the beginning, you can't find speciality coffee everywhere. When buying, look directly for roasters or cafés. Or, for example, in our e-shop, where you can buy complete accessories and coffee machines in addition to freshly roasted specialty coffee.