Specialty Coffee 101: The Basics

Justin Goldstein • August 03, 2020 • 3 min read

Spoons and Coffee

Learn About The Coffee That Goes Inside Bruvi's® Specialty Coffee Pods

Whether found on a retail bag or even in the name of your favorite coffee roaster, the term specialty coffee seems to be everywhere these days. While it sounds fancy and may even give you a warm fuzzy feeling inside, does it actually mean anything? You guessed it, it sure does! Unlike terms like “gourmet” coffee or “premium” coffee, specialty coffee actually has a rigid set of guidelines from the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) in order to receive that designation. At Bruvi, we are loud and proud to use only specialty coffees in our B-Pods® here’s why.

What Does Specialty Coffee Mean?

While the term first surfaced in the 1970s, it wasn’t until recent years that a universal definition and understanding of specialty coffee really came to fruition. In its simplest form, specialty coffee refers to a coffee with a quality score of 80+ points (on a 100 point scale). These scores qualitatively represent “very good” to “outstanding” coffees that are estimated to make up less than 5% of all coffee beans in the world. Additionally, specialty coffees come from specific elevations and have received meticulous attention to detail across their entire farm to cup journey.

How is Specialty Coffee Graded?

To receive the specialty coffee badge of honor, a coffee must be completely free of any primary defects in a visual inspection and receive an 80+ point cupping score from a certified coffee taster, a Q grader. Certified Q graders have received rigorous training to develop the refined skill set needed to objectively score coffees based on sensory tests. I like to think of Q graders as the master sommeliers of Arabica coffee; these are true experts who live and breathe coffee.

Now within specialty coffee, cupping scores of 80-85 points are considered “very good,” 85-90 points “excellent” and 90-100 points “outstanding.” For novice coffee drinkers, the difference between an 84 and 87 point coffee might be indistinguishable, but for trained Q graders, this would be a very noticeable quality difference. Fun fact, each year some of the best Panamanian Geishas will receive scores in the 96-100 point range and therefore command those insane prices that you’ve seen in news headlines.

Aside from A Cupping Score, What Is Specialty Coffee?

Specialty coffee requires great attention to detail at every step of the process. To ensure what you taste in your cup is as good as it should be, the SCA developed a specific set of parameters that are guaranteed to brew an excellent cup of coffee. These protocols are deemed the Golden Cup Standard. To meet this standard, a coffee must deliver a defined brew strength, which results from a specific coffee to water ratio, brew temperature and time, among other factors.

Why Does Bruvi Only Use Specialty Coffee?  

Bruvi was created with the goal of making excellent specialty coffee more accessible and convenient. By sourcing only specialty grade coffees from around the world, we are making quality coffee our top priority. Also, Bruvi is unique among single-serve machines as our proprietary technology brew coffee that meets the Golden Cup Standard of excellence. With only specialty coffee pods and sophisticated brewing technology, we are changing the single-serve coffee game. Take a sip, the proof is in the cup!


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