You may know you like coffee. Heck, you may even know you love coffee. If you do, you’ve probably heard the term ‘specialty coffee’ – but do you know what it means? Even those who easily know their macchiato from their cappuccino don’t.

But have no fear – we’re here to break it down for you. This is our A – Z of specialty coffee; soon you’ll know everything you need to about this, the most prized of beverages.

  • Only 1% of the world’s coffee can be ranked as ‘specialty coffee’
  • Specialty is different from Locally Roasted coffees, although only some locally roasted coffees can be classed as specialty (don’t worry, we’ll get to it)
  • What makes specialty coffee so… special… is the care that’s taken at each stage of the process. That’s why even if the beans are locally roasted, but the original bean has a poor flavor, it’s not a specialty coffee
  • The perfect temperature for coffee? 197.6° f
  • Coffee beans are graded by licensed Quality Graders who measure it from 0-100. If it scores under 80 – on tests including an assessment of flavor, aftertaste, aroma, and balance – it ain’t a specialty coffee
  • If you only drink coffee in chains like Starbucks or Pete’s, you’ve probably never drank a specialty coffee
  • 90% of all specialty coffees are light to medium roasts – if you think a good coffee is one that your spoon stands up in, according to a Quality Grader, you’re wrong
  • Specialty coffee beans come from all over the world – Columbia, Ethiopia, Nicaragua – and are roasted all over the world; you have cafes in New York who buy beans roasted in Berlin, and cafes in London with beans roasted in Wisconsin
  • Locally roasted coffee is frequently specialty, because those cafes who bother to independently roast often really, really care about the flavor
  • A trip to a specialty coffee roaster is fantastic for a Happy Valentine’s Day. However, if for some reason your crush doesn’t like coffee, get them a Keurig Swiss Miss Hot Chocolate Kcups or another less fancy beverage – while you get to enjoy an exceptional brew
  • The Specialty Coffee Association of America is the largest organization of its kind in the world. Anyone can sign up and learn the tricks and techniques of brewing a perfect cup of Joe
  • Most coffee connoisseurs resist the flat white, the espresso, and the cappuccino, and instead opt for a pour-over. This is a special kind of coffee where water runs through coffee granules suspended above a cup, and drips down through a filter slowly-slowly. It takes about ten minutes to get a cup – but it tastes divine.
  • The grind – as with every other stage of the process – is fundamental to a perfect cup of quality coffee. Never too coarse, and fine enough for each bit of gear you’re using
  • The world’s most prized coffee? The Kopi Luwak. Civet cats select only the finest and sweetest beans – then eat, digest, and excrete them. These beans are then roasted, to make one of the finest – and most expensive – coffees in the world.