Specialty coffee beans – a delicacy in the coffee industry


Specialty coffee beans are an abstract concept to define. In recent years, specialty coffee beans have received much attention from coffeeholic in particular thanks to their premium quality, impressive taste, and unforgettable experience to the customers.  

See more: Overall picture of wholesale coffee beans market in the world

An overview of specialty coffee beans

Specialty coffee beans do not simply indicate a type of coffee but the entire coffee making process is mentioned by this term.

Definition of specialty coffee beans

The term “specialty coffee beans” was first defined by Erna Knutsen in her speech at a coffee conference in 1978. It simply indicates coffee beans with distinct flavors which are grown in special geographic micro-climates. 


A pioneer in the specialty coffee industry

From the fundamental definition, the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) develops and contributes 2 elements to the term “specialty coffee beans”.

  • First, farmers, roasters, and baristas should take responsibility for the preservation, transformation, and revelation of specialty coffee beans’ quality. 
  • Secondly, assessment of specialty coffee beans’ sustainability is a must because a true specialty coffee bean not only has an attractive taste but also makes farmers’ life better and conserves the environment. 

specialty coffee beans

Generally, specialty coffee beans refer to beans that satisfy three criteria: 

  • It must be graded above 80/100 on SCA protocol
  • It is capable of being traced from farm to cup
  • The cherries – fruits of coffee trees must be flawless

Specialty coffee beans grading

Among a variety of reference instruments for coffee classification, the protocol established by the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) is the most reliable tool to classify specialty coffee beans, recommended by the standard committee. Green Coffee Grading protocol and Cupping protocol are covered under the SCA protocol. 


Specialty Coffee Association

  • The Green Coffee Grading protocol follows the SCA Green Arabica Coffee Classification System (GACCS) version in Spring 2000 and the SCA Defect Handbook in April 2004. 350g of green coffee beans are taken for visual inspection for defective beans counting. When having no defects at the primary level and fewer defects at the secondary level, it is then tested with the Cupping protocol.

Green Coffee Grading Protocol

  • The Cupping protocol is a qualifiable assessment method for analyzing the quality, characteristics, and flavor of a coffee sample. The total score is calculated based on individual component scores such as fragrance, aftertaste, sweetness, etc. Specialty coffee beans will have a final score above 80 out of 100. 

Cupping Protocol

The following is Total Score Quality Classification

Score Grade Specialty Yes/No
90 – 100 Outstanding Yes
85 – 89.99 Excellent Yes
80 – 84.99 Very Good Yes
> 80 No Grading No

Key elements creating specialty coffee beans

The process of making specialty coffee beans requires a strict application of various standards from the cultivation to the brewing stage.

Potential of specialty coffee beans

The first main factor contributing to specialty coffee beans is potential. What makes a coffee bean special is its own quality made by the right combination of variety, climate, soil chemistry, and farming techniques.

No specialty product can be developed if a superb coffee variety is planted in the improper soil and at an irrelevant altitude. In addition, specialty coffee beans quality potential can be ruined by the wrong climate despite the proper variety and soil condition.


Specialty Coffee Bean Farms

Another crucial element ensuring the standardized quality of specialty coffee beans is the harvest. The ripeness of coffee cherries determines the best quality, along with the entire flavor of final products later. Hence, specialty coffee beans are limited to those that are picked at the fully ripe state. 

Preservation of specialty coffee beans

Specialty coffee beans must be preserved carefully during initial processing, drying, and shipping preparation. After being harvested, specialty coffee beans have to face a number of dangers, so that it is essential for coffee cherries to undergo some preliminary processing. The delivery of ripe cherries to the mill must be quick to preserve potential because the more the time between harvest and the processing is, the more negative impacts on the output are. This stage should be carried out carefully for coffee quality preservation. 

Some popular processing methods are fully washed, honey, and natural. 

  • Fully-washed method: First, cherries will be put into water to separate ripe ones and poor ones. The next step is the removal of the cherry skin and pulps by pressing them through a screen. If some pulps still remain, it is necessary to apply other ways such as the traditional ferment-and-wash method, or machine-assisted wet processing method to get rid of them.
  • Honey process: This method involves picking and sorting coffee cherries, removing their skin and pulps, and drying the beans without washing off the sticky and sweet outer part. As the time in water of honey-processed beans is less than that of washed beans, the sugar content is preserved and is not converted to acid. 
  • Natural process: After being picked, cherries will be spread out into thin layers for sun drying. They will be turned frequently to avoid mold or rotting. When the cherries are dried completely, the skin and poor cherries will be removed, producing green coffee beans.

Another crucial step in the preservation of specialty coffee beans is drying since the final result of coffee beans is dependent on how they are dried. Some factors such as being dried too slowly or too quickly, or not dried evenly can degrade the total quality of specialty coffee beans, instead of enhancing it. 


Preservation of specialty coffee beans

Then, the coffee beans will be rested. During this time, important aspects including humidity, temperature, and containers should be under control to maintain the great condition for specialty coffee beans storage. 

Finally, at the stage of packaging for shipment, the specialty coffee beans must be size sorted one more time. Any minor screening fault, as well as any major mistakes in terms of packaging and storage system, will be unacceptable since it can be disastrous for coffee potential.

Revelation of specialty coffee beans

The last key element in the production of specialty coffee beans is a revelation, from green beans to roasted coffee. Three steps are included in the third stage to make an impressive beverage from specialty coffee beans.  


The first stage is roasting. While coffee beans are roasted, it is important for the roasters to identify the accurate potential, proper flavor, and suitable packaging for the products after roasting. This is a paramount requirement because if the mentioned factors are not well prepared, there will be no specialty coffee beans potential existing. Roasters also need to decide the appropriate timing, temperature, and motion of the roasting process for different kinds of coffee beans. 




The next step is grounding specialty coffee beans after roasting. There are 3 things people should pay attention to:

  • The best time for grinding is as close as possible to the time of brewing since at that moment, a significant amount of delicate aroma is fully liberated. 
  • A notable increase in the surface area exposed to the air can accelerate the speed of oxidation and staling of the specialty coffee beans. 
  • The size of the grinds plays a crucial role in the final result of the output coffee. Too fine grinds may lead to over-extraction, while too coarse grinds may prevent the specialty coffee beans release their maximum flavor potential.



In the end, the coffee is ready to be brewed after undergoing various processing stages. To hand a tasty cup of specialty coffee beans, baristas must be strict to principles of water quality, temperature for brewing, coffee to water ratio, and extraction.



Top specialty coffee beans in the world

Winning a big love from consumers, a huge diversity of products made from specialty coffee beans is available on the market in order to satisfy giant consuming demand. 

Arabica Dalat – Cau Dat specialty coffee beans

Arabica Dalat – Cau Dat is one of the top specialty coffee beans in Vietnam, which is made using 100% hand-picked and fully cleaned Cartimor, Bourbon, or Typica cherries grown between 1550 and 1700 meters above sea level. It is fruity, balanced, with good acidity and chocolate flavor.


Arabica Dalat – Cau Dat specialty coffee beans

New England specialty coffee beans

Specialty coffee beans of New England are famous for the 100-year roasting method. 100% Arabica coffee beans are roasted in small batches for consistency insurance. Therefore, the flavor of New England specialty coffee beans varies from butter pecan, blueberry cobbler, pumpkin spice, to pistachio creme. This coffee is suitable for drinkers who prefer a sweet taste.


New England specialty coffee beans

Arabica Lac Duong specialty coffee beans

Vietnamese ethnic minority population processes specialty coffee beans named Arabica Lac Duong, which is cultivated at 1450 to 1650 masl. The coffee is 100% hand-picked and properly washed. The beans of Arabica Lac Duong have a rich body with hints of chocolate and hazelnut flavor.


Arabica Lac Duong specialty coffee beans

The Original Whole Bean – Bulletproof specialty coffee beans

Organic methods are used to generate specialty coffee beans The Original Whole Bean of Bulletproof. At the peak of ripeness, they are meticulously harvested to remove any low-quality beans. Following that, selected coffee beans will go through a modern making process as well as toxins and impurity tests.

These specialty coffee beans possess a complex flavor profile including the taste of plum, cinnamon, orange, along with a hazelnut finishing note. 


The Original Whole Bean – Bulletproof specialty coffee beans

Arabica Lam Dong Honey specialty coffee beans

Arabica Lam Dong Honey is listed as Vietnamese specialty coffee beans. It is cultivated at the altitude of 1550 and 1700 meters above sea level. The cherries are 100% hand-picked, and the honey is processed to bring out the sweetness of brown sugar while maintaining a good balance.


Arabica Lam Dong Honey specialty coffee beans

Famous specialty coffee beans suppliers

The recommendation of top specialty coffee beans suppliers can be useful for customers when choosing a reliable buying source. 

Trung Nguyen Legend specialty coffee beans suppliers

Trung Nguyen Legend is another well-known supplier in terms of specialty coffee beans. After 25 years of development, the company won a noticeable place among people who love specialty coffee beans when its goods have an exceptional taste. 


Trung Nguyen Legend

K-Agriculture specialty coffee beans suppliers

With a 25-year history, K-Agriculture is one of the leading companies distributing specialty coffee beans to the international market. 

The company brings a wide selection of specialty coffee beans to customers such as Arabica Dalat – Cau Dat, Arabica Lac Duong, and Arabica Lam Dong Honey. These products hold the potential quality and distinct flavor certificated by many coffee organizations. 

Alongside a collaboration with the Vietnam Ministry of Industry and Trade, K-Agriculture possesses its own farm and factories, where experienced farmers and well-trained employees are responsible for the whole production of specialty coffee beans, from farm to cup. 


K- Agriculture Group

Contact information:



Whatsapp: +84855 555 837

The Specialty Coffee Company specialty coffee beans

The aim of The Specialty Coffee Company is to show consumers the greatness of specialty coffee. Hence, this company has been researching and developing a huge variety of specialty coffee beans coming with various impressive flavors and standardized quality. 


The Specialty Coffee Company

Please contact me for buying Vietnamese specialty coffee beans with WHOLESALE price via Whatsapp: +84855 555 837

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