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What is Specialty Coffee?

22/20/21 / by Velo Coffee Roaster posted in Coffee, Quality, Specialty


The coffee that's worth a thousand words!


Here at Velo Coffee Roasters, we focus on specialty coffee! Of course WE think our coffee is special, but keep reading to learn why you should think it's special too. What does it really mean for coffee to be considered “specialty”? All coffee is graded out of 100 in a process called “cupping” – visit our main page to read more about “cupping” if you’re interested!

So, coffee is graded out of 100, and coffee with a score of 80 or higher is considered to be specialty. What is the coffee graded on? The green coffee is graded on visual inspection and cupping. The coffee is then tasted and scored on a variety of attributes. Specialty coffee is also grown very differently, which we will get into!

Specialty coffee goes through numerous stages and grading procedures before it can be officially deemed as “specialty”. Go brew a cup of your favourite Velo specialty coffee and read along!


Coffee Check!

Each coffee needs to score at least 80 points on the quality scale and either an ‘excellent’ or ‘outstanding’ in the following: fragrance, aroma, flavour, aftertaste, acidity, body, uniformity, balance, clean-up, and sweetness. Arabica and Robusta are the popular coffee species, although only Arabicas are considered specialty coffees. Here at Velo, we only use Arabica beans!

‘Sip on back’ and take a look at the grading scale of specialty coffees! 


Specialty Coffee Grading Sheet






Specialty Coffee



Specialty Coffee


Very Good

Specialty Coffee

< 80

Below Specialty Coffee

Not Specialty Coffee


Everything about specialty coffee is quality driven – especially the way it is sourced. Coffee roasters will actually visit the farms that they are sourcing the coffee from to ensure that quality. The roasters build connections and relationships with the growers, so they can learn more about the area and the farm in person rather than just reading about them in the catalogues.

The roaster is not the only one who benefits from these interactions and relationships, but the farmers benefit as well. Roasters can sell a higher quality product, and therefore the farmers can make more money to support their own farms and local communities.

Specialty coffee is sold very differently from regular coffee. Specialty coffee roasters want you to know where your coffee comes from – country, farm, and even the farmer who grew the coffee! 

Specialty coffee is special because it values sustainability, quality, cooperation, and most importantly, the coffee lovers themselves!


So, that’s specialty!

Farmers and coffee roasters in the specialty coffee industry have made it their life’s work to make the quality of the coffee their highest priority. Through cupping and quality checks, we here at Velo Coffee Roasters do our part to ensure high quality is maintained in our products!

Well, you learn something new every day! Now that you know more about the process of sourcing and grading specialty coffee, you can share these facts with your friends on your next coffee-outing, or strike up a conversation with your favourite barista! Share your knowledge, and as always, enjoy your cup of Velo coffee! 

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