Just what is “Specialty Coffee?” It seems a more familiar term with folks unaccustomed to the world of “fine coffees” would be gourmet, premium, or something along that line. But the official term for something special should be just that, “Specialty Coffee.”

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“Specialty Coffee” was first used in 1974 by Erna Knutsen in an issue of Tea & Coffee Trade Journal. Knutsen used this term to describe beans of the best flavor which are produced in special microclimates.

“Specialty Coffee” is the term commonly used to refer to “gourmet” or “premium” coffee, according to the “Specialty Coffee” Association of America (SCAA), coffee which scores 80 points or above on a 100-point scale. Specialty coffees are grown in special and ideal climates and are distinctive because of their full cup taste and little to no defects. The unique flavors and tastes are a result of the special characteristics and composition of the soils in which they are produced.

The specialty segment is the most rapidly growing portion of the coffee industry. In the U.S., specialty coffee has increased its market share from 1% to 20% in the last 25 years.

To promote and self-regulate the industry, growers, exporters, roasters, retailers, and equipment suppliers have established trade associations. These associations exist in both coffee-consuming and producing countries.

Specialty Coffee from southern Costa Rica is rapidly growing in world market share. Besides being specialty, it is also becoming famous for being a leader in the fair trade market with the City of San Isidro, where Javataza Specialty Coffee is from, being the first in the world to officialy obtain the title of Fair Trade City.

Needless to say, for Javataza all these indicators are pretty special and as a specialty roaster we jealously guard this special reputation and are constantly seeking ways to grow the special impact this is having for all those special folks around the globe who care about the finer things in life!

– Nathanael Yoder