What is specialty coffee ?

At L’Occasion Café, we’re big fans of specialty coffee. But what does this actually mean? How is a coffee defined as “specialty coffee”? ☕️

Indeed, specialty coffee must meet certain criteria, which we’ll explain in this article!

In particular, it’s an article that’s close to our hearts (because it’s about coffee, obviously) but also because we’re going to go back over some criteria that are very important to us. 😌 Maybe it’ll inspire you to drink specialty coffee (and we’re not just saying that because it tastes better)!

First we’ll explain why and how specialty coffee became what it is, and then the criteria it must meet to qualify as such.

Why do we talk about "specialty coffee" ?

Let’s get down to basics. The qualification of “specialty coffee” and all the rules that define it are governed by the SCA (Specialty Coffee Association of America) created in 1984.☕️

In fact, coffee has its own rating grid, and must score between 80 and 100 to be “specialty”. These scores are defined by “Q-Graders”, who are coffee tasting specialists.

Speaking of the SCA, it defines all the rules for specialty coffee, both in terms of production and consumption. In fact, the association is an expert in the field and has decided on all the rules we use today at Occasion Café: like brewing time and coffee extraction time for certain recipes.

You may be familiar with this, as we’ve detailed the importance of these elements in various articles on the V60 and the Aeropress. 😉

What makes a coffee "specialty" coffee ?

As we said, the title of specialty coffee isn’t just based on its taste and aroma. ✨

Several environmental, sustainable and ethical conditions have to be met. But which ones?


The country of origin, the region and the farm where the coffee comes from must be indicated on the packaging. The altitude at which the coffee is grown and the name of the producer are also concerned, and the coffee consumed must be 100% traceable and transparent about its origin.


Consumers need to know EVERYTHING about the coffee they consume : the variety of coffee it comes from, its process (whether it’s natural, washed, honey…).

Sustainable agriculture

Specialty coffee must be grown with respect for the environment and soil protection. If you didn’t know, coffee beans are the seeds of a fruit: the coffee cherry. Coffee cherries are harvested at different times depending on the variety. Harvesting is always done by hand.

Fair remuneration for producers

This means that the grower must be rigorous in the way he cultivates his coffee. To ensure that his work is profitable, you should know that specialty coffee has its own price on the world’s stock market (yes, it does)! Specialty coffee is bought at a higher price (than the stock market value of “industrial” coffee, which is one of the most widely consumed and therefore most highly-valued products) in order to pay the producer a fair wage 🤗

Perfect tasting

And yes, despite everything, a coffee that meets all these conditions won’t be a specialty coffee if its taste isn’t up to scratch. In fact, it’s the SCA specialists known as “Q-grader” (already mentioned above) who determine the value of the coffee’s aromas in the cup according to several criteria (its acidity, bitterness, balance and several other criteria that we’ll perhaps talk about in a future article…).

After all, what we remember most about a product like coffee is its taste, its aromas and the sensations it gives us in the mouth. 😋

At l’Occasion Café, we take great interest in serving you quality products, in other words, specialty coffee. 😁

We hope we’ve taught you a few things about specialty coffee, and enlightened you on a subject that’s particularly relevant to us.

With specialty coffee, we consume ethically and respectfully of the environment, while creating a memorable experience in the mouth. We would like to thank all coffee producers, roasters and retailers for making it possible for this product to shine in all its splendour, all over the world. ❤️

See you soon at Occasion Café ! ✅

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