The term ‘specialty’ in relation to coffee has become a widely used term. It is however is a concept that continues to bewilder the majority of coffee drinkers with a need for debunking the world of coffee without the snobbery.
What is Specialty Coffee?
To put it simply, specialty coffee is quality coffee, like the fine wine of coffee. Quality is maintained from seed to cup and at every stage of the bean’s life it is cared for. Starting with the farmer (producer), they dedicate their life to the production of quality coffee versus quantity of coffee. At the initial stage only coffee free from defects and at optimum ripeness will be passed on to the next hands in the chain. It is from here where the farmer must be able to recognise that their coffee goes to like-minded people in the chain to ensure a higher profit. The green processed coffee must then go to the green coffee buyer who is certified as a coffee taster with a Q grader certification like a certified sommelier. The taster will be able to evaluate the quality of the coffee and the pricing of the product which then determines if the coffee may be termed specialty or not. The coffee is then sent to the roaster where it is roasted to a specific degree to highlight the flavour profiles that are preferred. From here the barista must recognise that the coffee has gone through 3 stages of quality control and it is their job to brew the consumer a delicious coffee by minimising any loss of quality from the beans in the brewing process. The barista cannot add quality to the coffee at this stage but instead ensures that the coffee is used to its full potential in the final product. Lastly the consumer completes the final step in the specialty chain in their purchase of specialty. This recognises and shows an understanding of the efforts and quality put into the coffee, as well as benefiting everyone who’s hands have touched the coffee.
The launch of #001 marked our first limited edition specialty coffee, with the aim of developing appreciation for specialty and more knowledge for micro-lot coffee.
#001 showcased beans from Don Mayo, a Micromill in the region of Tarrazu in Costa Rica. A Micromill is a low volume farm producer that separates their coffees into different lots. This dictates that different coffee varietals grown in different parts of the same farm are kept separate. They are milled separately to ensure the true flavours of each lot are kept true to its terrior, or the special characteristics that the geography, geology and climate have affected the beans. The coffee is then termed ‘microlot’, as it is traceable to the exact area on the farm it comes from, and it therefore a truly pure and premium version of single origin coffee.
The #001 coffee derived from the El Beneficio farm in Don Mayo mill owned and managed by Hector Bonilla and his son Pablo Bonilla. Don Mayo won the Cup of Excellence in 2009, which is one of the most prestigious specialty coffee competitions running internationally where judges from around the world score and taste the coffees nominated. Don Mayo has always had a farm nominated in the top 10 at the Cup of Excellence.
Hector is constantly on the search of ways to improve the quality of his coffee whether it is experimenting with processing or trying different varietals to fine tune his coffee, these are all tested and tasted at their own cupping lab. At Don Mayo they really take their social commitments seriously, setting a high benchmark on conditions for their farm workers in Costa Rica where families are given housing, training and schooling for their children. The higher price of Don Mayo reflects their extra investment in quality and sustainability.
Atomic sold #001 coffee as its first limited edition specialty coffee. The next launch also promises to showcase a new and incredible coffee for Atomic drinkers.