Oh coffee, that amazing drink… we all love it so much! Regardless of whether you prefer espresso, cold-brew, domestic coffee, aero-press, or some other method of preparation – coffee is always delicious! However, how well do we know this magical potion that makes us so happy?
We drink it daily so it really makes sense to get to know it a bit better. Coffee can be of different grades, and in the broadest sense, it is classified into commercial and specialty coffee. What are the differences between commercial and specialty coffee and what makes specialty coffee so special? Find out below.
How to recognize commercial vs special coffee?
Before we move on to explain the differences between commercial and specialty coffee, we will mention the main feature that distinguishes them and by which you will easily recognize them.
For starters, commercial coffee is one that you can find pretty much at any local supermarket. It is mostly sold wholesale, the brands are very recognizable and are advertised all over the country. Most often, the tastes of commercial coffee are very limited and based on bean blends, and you can rarely find a single-origin alternative.
On the other hand, you can’t find specialty coffee in any store. They are usually roasted and sold in smaller shops and factories. For their preparation, special, traditional methods are used, and they are sold in bulk in the form of coffee beans, so it is necessary to grind them before use. They are most often named after the place where the bean originated from (Colombia, Brazil, India, Costa Rica), and the focus is sometimes on the way of roasting (Italian or French method). One of the famous specialty beans Colombia, Guatemala, and Sumatra are Koffee Kult Dark Roast Coffee Beans. You can read more about it here.
However, while these descriptions clearly indicate that commercial and specialty coffee are not the same thing, you may be wondering what is the big difference? After all, it’s all the coffee we drink when we want to relax with friends or when we want to wake up and prepare for the workday. Right? Well… the things are not that simple. Here are a few details to help you clearly understand the difference between these two coffee types:
1. Coffee quality
The primary difference between commercial and specialty coffee is that lower quality beans are used to produce the commercial alternative. For this reason, you will notice that the commercial coffee you drink at your home is quite bitter. This is not the case with specialty coffee, which is produced with top-quality coffee beans. They are dominated by the acidity of taste, while bitterness is reduced to a minimum. This gives the specialty coffee a more refined and delicious taste. Specialty coffee is also often of single-origin, which means that coffee beans used are all of the same origins, while in commercial coffees beans of different origins are often mixed and as a result, they provide a particular taste that is often totally fine, but not as delicious.
Another factor by which you will clearly recognize which coffee is commercial and which is the specialty one is the price. Commercial coffee always costs significantly less, due to the fact that lower quality coffee beans are used for its preparation, but also because the entire production process is much cheaper. On the other hand, there is a specialty coffee whose production and roasting process involves a lot of time, effort and money, in order to create coffee with a unique taste and top quality. Specialty coffee manufacturers make a lot of effort to be sure where their beans come from and to pass this information on to customers, in order to be completely transparent and indicate the quality of their product.
3. Specialty coffee packages contain much more information about the coffee itself
Brands that produce specialty coffee always try to provide all the important information about their product, in order to indicate the special way of preparation, the quality of their coffee, and the interesting origin. This approach allows customers to gather all the necessary information about coffee in order to educate them, but also to make it easier for them to search for the same coffee type in the future. This is not the case with commercial coffees, because they usually contain a mixture of a large number of different coffee beans and their main focus is not on the method of preparation and coffee quality, simply because this is not their strongest point.
4. Commitment to finding the best location to grow coffee beans
Another important feature of specialty coffee brands is that they pay special attention to finding the best location for growing coffee beans. Why? Because they know that the quality of coffee is directly proportional to the soil on which it is grown. Such brands take the time to choose the best region for growing coffee beans, which means they decide what is the best country, area, and farm. However, the process does not end here. In addition, they invest time, money, and energy to find the best type of land for growing coffee, the height at which it will be grown, picking time, and making other important decisions. Once they find the perfect recipe for growing coffee, they will create the best beverage that all coffee lovers will want to come back to and enjoy its deliciousness over and over again.
For commercial coffee brands, the focus is on coming up with the most affordable option, so that this beverage is available to as many people as possible. Coffee is often grown in regions that are not specifically tuned for its cultivation: the soil is not optimal, coffee beans are exposed to direct sunlight, and so on.
However, this is not necessarily a bad thing. If it is not your top priority to drink high-quality coffee, but you are completely satisfied with the average one, then commercial brands can be a great choice for you.
Specialty and commercial coffee have completely different characteristics, but each of them can be a good choice, depending on what you expect from the coffee. If you like a refined, high-quality taste of single-origin coffee, then a logical choice is specialty coffee for you. However, in case the quality of coffee is not a decisive factor for you, but you only want to enjoy coffee while hanging out with friends, then commercial brands will do the work.