Last year, Perfect Daily Grind, published an excellent article detailing what specialty coffee really is. It is an important distinction because we hear different terms thrown around interchangeably and it causes a lot of confusion. Specialty coffee is not a flowery term used to make bad coffee sound good. It is coffee that has been graded and received a score placing it in a category of excellence that is highly monitored and highly coveted. The aforementioned article describes it as Arabica coffee that has been cupped by a certified Q grader with a cup score of 80+ points without any processing defects that disqualify it. There is a lot of blood, sweat, and tears that go into obtaining marks high enough to advance coffee into the specialty category.
While the article mentions that Specialty coffee must be Arabica and scored by a Q grader…it fails to mention that Robusta can also obtain a specialty rating. Since Q graders are only certified to grade Arabica there is also a special type of Q grader qualification that is used to grade Robusta – this is less formally known as R grade certification. You can learn more about the Q Robusta certification (R grade certification) at coffeestrategies.com.
At Sina Green we will only sell specialty grade coffees. Since we are a farm direct supplier and will only partner with those whom we know to be fair trade we do not yet have a specialty Robusta we can offer in the States. We are working closely with a couple of farms though and hope that within the next two harvest seasons we will be able to share some specialty grade Robusta from Hainan Island!