The Captivating Journey of Specialty Coffee: From Seed to Cup

Are you a coffee lover who enjoys exploring the different flavors and characteristics of the beverage? If so, then specialty coffee is something you should definitely try. It is cultivated for its unique flavor notes and exceptional quality, unlike commodity coffee which is grown primarily for its caffeine content. In this article, we will take you on a journey from seed to cup, exploring the fascinating world of specialty coffee.

What is Specialty Coffee in the Philippines and its difference from Commodity Coffee?


Specialty coffee refers to coffee that is cultivated and taken care of to highlight its distinct flavor and quality. Unlike commodity coffee, which is often mass-produced and lacks individuality, the specialty coffee industry is carefully grown and selected for its unique characteristics. Two main types of coffee are popular in the specialty coffee industry: Arabica and Robusta.

Arabica coffee is the most common type of specialty coffee and is known for its rich flavors and distinct clarity. It requires specific conditions to thrive, including altitudes above a thousand meters, specific soil composition, and the right amount of rainfall and sunshine.

On the other hand, Robusta coffee is primarily grown for its high caffeine content. It is more resistant to diseases and pests and has a stronger and more bitter taste compared to Arabica.

History of Specialty Coffee in the Philippines


The term “specialty coffee” first emerged in the 1970s and referred to coffee that is graded 80 points or higher on a 100-point scale by professional coffee tasters. This highlighted coffee that was grown and produced to the highest quality standards.

In the Philippines, the specialty coffee movement began in the 1990s when local coffee shop chains like Figaro and Starbucks started introducing specialty coffee to the market. This exposed Filipino consumers to higher quality coffee compared to the commercial robusta coffee that was readily available.

The number of specialty coffee roasters and shops grew in the 2000s as the Philippine specialty coffee culture expanded. Local roasters like Yardstick Coffee, Bo’s Coffee, and Coffee for Peace brought more awareness to specialty grade coffee being sourced and roasted in the Philippines.

Today, there is a thriving specialty coffee scene, with farmers cultivating specialty grade beans and micro roasters focusing on sourcing, roasting and brewing to highlight the unique flavors and characteristics of single origin Philippine coffees. Regions like Benguet, Bukidnon, Cavite, and Davao have become known for producing exceptional specialty coffee.

The Cultivation and Production of Specialty Coffee

coffee cultivation

Growing specialty coffee begins with finding the perfect location. The “bean belt,” located between the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, offers the ideal conditions for coffee cultivation. Countries like Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Ethiopia, and Indonesia have the necessary combination of altitude, climate, and soil to produce exceptional specialty coffee.

It takes time and effort to cultivate specialty coffee. The journey starts with planting the coffee seeds, which take about three years to grow into a full-fledged coffee tree that produces cherries. A single tree can yield around one to two pounds of cherries, depending on various factors such as the climate and cultivation practices.

Once the cherries are ripe, farmers carefully pick them from the trees. Unlike commodity coffee, which is often machine-harvested, growing specialty coffee requires more attention and labor to selectively harvest only the ripe cherries. This attention to detail contributes to the overall quality of specialty coffee.

The Processing and Roasting: Perfecting Specialty Coffee Brew

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After harvesting, the coffee cherries go through a series of handling methods to remove the fruit and prepare the seeds for drying and sorting. Some common handling methods include natural, honey-processed, fully washed, and wet-hulled honey-processed. Each method imparts its own unique flavor profile to the coffee beans.

Specialty coffee is distinguished from commodity coffee based on a grading and quality distinction. Using a 100-point scale, specialty coffee generally scores above 80 points, with scores above 96 considered exceptional. This rigorous grading system ensures that only the highest quality beans make it to market.

Once the beans are processed, they are ready for roasting. This is a critical step in bringing out the flavors locked within the coffee beans. Roasters utilize their expertise to develop the perfect roast profile for each coffee, depending on its origin and characteristics. The roasting part enhances the flavors and aromas of specialty coffee, creating a delightful experience for the consumer.

Finally, specialty coffee reaches the eager hands of coffee enthusiasts like yourself. You can brew a delicious cup of specialty coffee at home, using various brewing methods such as pour-over, French press, or espresso. Each brewing method offers a unique way to extract the flavors from the carefully crafted beans.

Major Regions of Producers in the Philippines

The high elevation, volcanic soil, and tropical climate make the Cordillera Region in northern Luzon ideal for producing specialty coffee. The staple origin is Benguet Arabica, which has a sweet, chocolatey flavor with hints of fruitiness. Mt. Apo coffee from Mindanao is another sought after specialty grade coffee, praised for its full body and complexity.

The Bukidnon province in Mindanao has rapidly emerged as a specialty coffee origin, producing sweet and clean-tasting beans. The cool climate and high altitudes allow Bukidnon coffee to develop slowly and produce a more distinctive flavor.

Cavite has also gained a reputation for quality specialty coffee production. Cavite coffee is noted for its nutty and creamy body with mild acidity. Meanwhile Batangas coffee is fruiter and brighter due to the lower elevation.

These renowned regions demonstrate that the Philippines can produce this type of coffee that is on par with beans from more established origins. Supporting local farmers and roasters helps sustain the specialty coffee community.

More about the Coffee Industry

specialty coffee

Coffee has become a global obsession, with specialty coffee gaining popularity in recent years. The Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) is at the forefront of this movement, setting high standards for coffee quality. But what exactly is specialty coffee, and why is it so special? In simple terms, specialty coffee refers to beans that have been grown and processed with meticulous care.

These beans are typically of the highest quality, sourced from specific regions known for their favorable climate and soil conditions. This attention to detail ensures that every cup of specialty coffee offers a unique and exceptional flavor profile. The journey of a specialty coffee bean starts with the coffee farmer. These dedicated individuals employ sustainable farming practices to nurture their crops, resulting in beans with distinct flavors and aromas.

The harvesting process is crucial, as only the ripest cherries are picked and processed, ensuring optimum flavor and minimizing defects. Green coffee, as it is known before the roasting process, undergoes rigorous quality control. Coffee roasters, the creative masterminds behind the beans’ transformation, use their expertise to bring out the best in each batch. They carefully monitor temperature, time, and other variables to achieve the perfect roast that enhances the coffee’s unique characteristics.

Once the specialty coffee beans have been roasted, they find their way to coffee shops around the world. These establishments take great pride in offering their customers an exceptional coffee experience. From bean selection to brewing methods, coffee shops are devoted to delivering a cup of specialty coffee that tantalizes the taste buds. For coffee enthusiasts, the allure of specialty coffee lies in its complexity and diversity.

Each region and coffee farm produces beans with distinct flavor profiles, allowing consumers to embark on a sensory journey with every sip. From fruity and floral notes to chocolaty and nutty undertones, specialty coffee offers a world of flavors to explore. Explore our Ultimate Guide the Different Types of Specialty Coffee here.

The term “specialty coffee” may be relatively new, but the concept has been around for decades. It is not just a marketing buzzword; it represents a commitment to quality and sustainability throughout the coffee industry. By supporting specialty coffee, consumers contribute to the livelihood of coffee farmers and promote environmentally conscious practices. In the Philippines, specialty coffee has seen tremendous growth in recent years. Local coffee farmers are producing specialty-grade beans that rival the best in the world.

The specialty coffee market in the country is thriving, with coffee professionals and enthusiasts seeking out the finest brews available. The rise of specialty coffee is a testament to consumers’ desire for a more refined coffee experience. Gone are the days of settling for mediocre brews; coffee drinkers now demand excellence in every cup.

Whether you’re a coffee connoisseur or a casual coffee lover, embracing specialty coffee opens up a world of flavors and sensory delights. So next time you reach for your morning pick-me-up, consider exploring the realm of specialty coffee. Your taste buds will thank you as you savor the exquisite flavors crafted by passionate coffee professionals. Join the specialty coffee movement and experience the true essence of this remarkable beverage.

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