The Difference between Specialty and Commercial Coffee

 In blog, Commercial Coffee, Specialty Coffee

The PT RAAS company offers both specialty and commercial coffees, and many of our customers have asked “what is the difference between the two?” Is one cheaper? Does one taste better? And who decides what gets to be “specialty,” anyway? Read on to find out more!


If you’re not familiar with coffee, here’s a quick background: Coffee beans are not actually beans; they are the fruit of the coffee tree, which produces what are called cherries; small, round fruits that are eventually dried and roasted to become the “bean” we all know and love. Just like regular cherries, coffee cherries are best when they are picked when they are nice and red. In many commercial operations, these cherries are harvested all at once, picking anything from green, to red, to the very dark red that looks almost black, indicating an overripened coffee bean. These ripeness variations can add bitterness, sourness, or unusual sweetness to your coffee. Specialty coffee uses clear-cut criteria to pick on the best cherries, and many operations hand-check these cherries to ensure those that are too young or too old haven’t fallen into the bag.

Quality Checks

Your specialty coffee sure is special! In fact, trained employees hand-check specialty coffee at various stages of processing, including before and after drying, before and after roasting, and sometimes even after roasting! This is all to ensure the best quality for your coffee. Where do the less-than-perfect coffee cherries go? Often to commercial-quality coffee. There is nothing wrong with these beans; commercial-grade coffee can be considered “average,” while specialty is “top of the class!”

The Specialty Coffee Association

The Specialty Coffee Association is a nonprofit group that represents coffee professionals across the world. While this association is not a regulatory body, it does provide some guidance for the best specialty coffee. One branch of the association, the Specialty Coffee Association of America, requires that specialty coffees have zero primary defects.

Now that you’re armed with plenty of knowledge about the coffee world, start finding your perfect coffee by placing and order with PT RAAS today!

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