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What makes Speciality Coffee…Special?

What makes Speciality Coffee…Special?

Coffee is unique in its journey, taking a variety of skills across multiple countries and continents to ensure what reaches your cup is speciality. While ‘Quality’ is a broad term that’s easy for high street chains and corporates to coin, speciality coffee is a true step up in experience that requires each stage of this journey to be carried out correctly.

Saying that, it’s easy to discover speciality when buying from and supporting local & independent businesses who have a true passion for their offering.

The following explores what takes a coffee from being a commodity to being a speciality.

Coffee Scoring

All coffee is graded (1-100) based on a combination of factors including sweetness, acidity, defects, flavour & balance, and then classed into one of the following;

Under 50

Below Grade (Discarded)

50 > 79

Commercial (Average – Good)

80 > 84.99

Speciality (Very good)

85 > 89.99

Speciality (Excellent)


Presidential (Outstanding)*

*Presidential Award standard coffee makes up just 1% of the speciality market

So, as you can see from the above, the first step to discovering speciality coffee is to ensure that the beans being used are scored at +80.


Coffee goes through many hands, from where it’s grown through to where it’s drunk. Beans are scored as above at the farm they’re grown, then goes through a number of steps before it reaches you as the customer.

Coffee is delivered to the UK as green beans (it’s natural state) before being roasted; a key stage in it’s journey. This is a fine art, requiring roasters to identify the best way to ensure the flavour is developed properly. With poor machinery or unskilled roasters, the coffee can be ruined at this stage of the process.

The Barista

Having made the grade to make it to retail, the ultimate drinking experience all comes down to your Barista. How the coffee is kept, the way the grinder is calibrated and the filtration of the water are all part of ensuring that the coffee reaches its full potential.

In the journey from farm to cup, the Barista is ultimately the final gatekeeper and a qualified one will bring all of these factors together, ensuring proper extraction and brewing, to ensure that what you sip is indeed speciality.

Want to try it? Discover Speciality Coffee shops across the UK on RWRD app, or try it at home by buying Vaxx beans at the RWRD Shop – all of which are scored 85+. Use code RWRDVAXX for 25% off!


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