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What Makes Specialty Coffee Special?

We all love a good shot of java to start the morning off right… but for the dedicated enthusiasts, coffee is more than just a drink: it’s an obsession. And for those true-brew coffee lovers, there is specialty coffee. But just what is specialty coffee, exactly? Well, it’s not just your average cup of joe.

Specialty coffee is more than the work of one person. It comes from the combined efforts of everyone along the chain of production. From farmers and harvesters to roasters and brewers, specialty coffee is the result of passion, precision, and professionalism. All this work goes into producing the very finest cups of coffee, and it’s this loving attention to detail that makes specialty coffee so, well, special!

The Origin of the Bean 

According to the Specialty Coffee Association - yes, there’s a guild for coffee artistry! - specialty coffee starts from the bean. Carefully cultivated coffee beans require the perfect soil, atmosphere, and altitude, which is why certain areas - such as Kona, Hawai’i - are so well known for their coffee.

Believe it or not, the elevation at which your beans are grown actually plays a significant role in the flavor of your coffee. And the higher the elevation, the higher the flavor levels! The most desirable beans are the ones cultivated at higher elevations - but what’s so great about the beans that come from these lofty coffee farms?

Chances are, you’re already familiar with the term ‘arabica,’ and that’s because it’s the preferred bean for flavor and aroma. And when it comes to growing arabica, these caffeinated jewels prefer areas with higher elevation.

Growing the best arabica beans packed with mouth-watering flavor requires farming elevations. The slow crop growth in high-altitude environments helps promote super dense beans full of aromatic notes. The higher you go, the greater range of flavor you can get. High altitudes can give you a flavor palette with citrus, vanilla, and chocolate notes, while extremely high altitudes can yield notes like berries, spices, florals, and even wine.

High elevation farming equals high-quality beans—but while Mother Nature provides the perfect setting for growth, you still need the human touch to get the best cup of coffee. Many of the best growers have coffee farming in their blood. Families pass down the traditions and trade secrets of coffee farming from generation to generation, and the new generation continues to perfect and refine the techniques.

Next Steps

 Once ripe and ready, the unroasted or ‘green’ coffee is sold to an expert buyer. These folks have ultra-refined palettes and are capable of sniffing out the very best beans for brewing. Once these beans have passed the test, they’re moved on to the roaster - a highly-trained professional whose job is to bring out the rich notes and flavors of the beans through the careful application of heat.

The bean has one final stop before it gets to you: the barista is tasked with extracting the flavors lovingly cultivated by all those who came before. It’s a deceptively demanding task, but when done well, all the effort is worth it, and you get the perfect cup of specialty coffee.

At Buddha’s Cup, we take great pride in both the process and the product. Coffee is our passion, and nothing delights us more than providing incredible specialty coffee to the java lovers in Hawai’i and beyond.