There’s nothing average about a specialty cup of coffee. But what makes specialty coffee so… special? It begins long before it reaches our roastmaster or is poured into your mug.
Specialty coffee begins with the beans!
The term “specialty coffee” refers to the highest-quality green coffee beans roasted to their greatest flavor potential by true artisan roasters. These beans are then brewed to perfection as defined by industry standards established long ago. Specialty Coffee from Seed to Cup
The specialty coffee story begins with the planting of a particular type of coffee into a certain growing region. Not all growing regions are created equal – there are regions that grow better coffees than others, due to altitude, soil, and other environmental factors. The plant must be given excellent care through harvest and preparation for export.
Specialty coffee starts in the green bean phase. It’s defined as coffee with no defects and a full cup taste. It isn’t enough that the coffee tastes good – to be crowned specialty coffee, a brew must be notably good. Premium coffee, which many perceive to be high quality, is actually one grade below specialty coffee, helping to define the term even more.
Roasting is the next phase and brings another opportunity to define specialty. Every coffee has the potential to express itself differently in combination with every roaster. Our roastmaster’s job is to develop and bring out specialty coffee’s distinct flavor.
Freshness is another major factor. Only highly aromatic coffee is considered specialty – if the coffee is stale it cannot meet the standards of specialty coffees. It’s vital that the coffee remains lively and robust until the brewing phase.
Brewing specialty coffee is an art. There are many different brewing methods but to achieve specialty coffee it must have the right ratio of coffee to water, the right grind suited to the coffee, proper water temperature and contact time, and a well-prepared coffee “bed” or “cake.”
Specialty coffee, in the end, can only be defined after it is poured and tasted. It takes many steps to produce a specialty cup of coffee and quality must be maintained throughout all of them. The specialty segment remains the most rapidly growing portion of the coffee industry and the Specialty Coffee Association continues to define specialty coffee.
Coffee is grown in high elevation, tropical countries such as Mexico, Indonesia, Kenya, Colombia, Costa Rica, Brazil, Guatemala, Panama, and even Vietnam. Due to its colder climate, coffee cannot be grown in the United States, except in Hawaii where delicious Kona and Kauai coffees are grown.
There are two basic types of coffee trees: Arabicas and Robustas. Robustas are hardy, high-yielding trees that grow at lower elevations in the tropics. They yield low-quality coffee with a harsh astringent taste, so Robustas are generally blended with other coffees to mask their poor flavor. Most gourmet coffee roasters will not buy Robustas – instead most Robustas are made into instant, freeze-dried coffee.
Arabicas, however, are delicate trees that yield top-quality coffee. They are grown in high elevations, usually above 3,000 feet, in partly cloudy or shady climates, where the coffee cherry develops slowly. The ripe, red cherry of Arabica trees are harvested by hand, so only the ripest, highest quality beans are processed. Indeed, since coffee trees have cherries that are in various stages of development, this is the only way to insure consistency and quality. We only roast Arabica beans grown above 4,000 feet.
After harvesting, the coffee beans (actually the seeds of the cherry) are processed to remove them from the cherries through a water washing process or in some places, by simply drying them in the sun. They are then sorted both by machine and by hand. This sorting process removed imperfections, and separates the beans into grades. For example, in Colombia, the top 3 grades are Supremo, Excelso, and Milds.
Unroasted but processed coffee is called “green coffee,” and it is in this form that the coffee is exported from the origin countries in 60 or 70 pound burlap bags. Green coffee beans can be stored for about a year before losing the top end flavors.
Roasting coffee to the perfect roast and balance is a craft that takes years of practice to master. Here at Hidden House Coffee our Roast Master has over a decade of roasting experience bring to our valued customers consistently delicious high quality roasted coffee beans. Only when the coffee is roasted, its lifespan will decrease especially when exposed to air. Because coffee loses its quality and freshness after roasting, Hidden House Coffee packages and seals the coffee immediately after roasting to seal in all the freshness. Fresh roasted coffee continues to gas off after being packaged, hence all of our bags have a one-way valve that lets the carbon dioxide out, but keep oxygen from getting in.
Coffee Roast Master
Only a true Artisan Roastmaster has the skills and knowledge to bring out the best in the coffee bean. A Roastmaster develops this knowledge over time and fine tunes the skill of roasting until all senses are used to bring out the uniqueness that each coffee bean has to offer.
At Hidden House Coffee the process of roasting coffee involves the skills of the Roastmaster and top of the line Roast Equipment. The two combine allows us to bring you only the best roasted coffee.
Fresh Roast Coffee
At Hidden House Coffee the process of fresh roasted coffee begins with roasting the bean for 15 to 30 minutes average. Ideally a fine coffee bean won’t need excessive roasting and this will allow the coffee consumer to enjoy the bean’s origin flavors that reflect the climate of the growing region and the particular traits of the coffee bean including its genetics.
Darker roasts can mask many of these origin flavors, though in some cases a dark roast is appropriate because it brings out other flavors in the beans.
When coffee beans are roasted they grow in size as they lose moisture and begin to develop soluble oils. Darker roasts are created by using a higher roast temperature for a longer roasting time. Lighter roasts may be roasted just until the “first crack” when the beans crack or pop for the first time. In general, a lighter roast has a higher acidity than a darker roast, which will tend to have a fuller body and be sweeter.
A Full Roast or Italian Espresso Roast is roasted until the “second crack” when the beans become a bit shiny and oily on the surface. The roast flavor is apparent and there may be spicy or chocolaty flavors.
A Dark Roast is roasted beyond the second crack until the sugars begin to carbonize creating smoky-sweet flavors. The best roast for a particular coffee bean is best determined by taking into account the various factors including the type of bean, moisture content, how the beans have been stored, and the age of the beans, bean quality, and other factors. Skilled roastmasters listen carefully to the beans as they are roasting to help determine the proper length of roasting time. Hidden House coffee is committed to bring you consistent high quality. We always strive to bring you only the best that each bean has to offer.
Single Origin Coffee
Single-origin coffee comes from one specific growing region. The geographical area that the coffee bean comes from gives each bean its unique flavor and characteristic. World, coffees also have preferred growing areas where environmental conditions are perfect for creating premium coffee. For instance, Antigua Guatemalan coffee comes entirely from the Antigua region, a premier coffee-growing area high in the mountains of Guatemala. Kenya Afrique coffee is grown at high altitudes in Kenya’s Kirinyaga Valley. Even the slightest difference in growing altitude, climate, harvesting or processing conditions can account for flavor differences between coffees. For the coffee purist, single-origins and varietals capture the essence of a particular region’s unique characteristics.
Coffee is grown in more than 50 countries, and is second only to oil in dollar value as a world trade commodity. Worldwide, the coffee industry provides more than 20 million jobs. Approximately 25 million acres of land are devoted to cultivating coffee. Ideal growing conditions include tropical/subtropical temperatures (68-75F), abundant sunlight, rich soil and 60 to 80 inches of annual rainfall.
The two principal botanical species of coffee trees are coffea arabica and coffea canefora. There are more than two dozen varieties of arabica, but only a few varieties of canefora. Two common canefora varieties are robusta and conilon. All varieties of the arabica species are commonly called arabica, but the canefora species are called robusta. Arabica coffee beans represent 65% of the world production; robusta beans represent 35%.
Arabica grows best between 2,000 and 6,000 feet above sea level in warm climates along the equator. Central America, South America and Eastern Africa are renowned for their arabica beans. Arabica’s characteristics include a balanced aroma, and a sweet, pleasing taste. All specialty coffees are 100% arabica. However, only about 10% of arabicas are specialty quality. Arabica coffee grown at higher altitudes is generally more expensive due to labor intensive growing, harvesting, and processing costs. Robusta grows from sea level to 2,000 feet in wet valley lands and humid tropical forests. West Africa, Indonesia and Brazil (conilon variety) are the primary growing regions of robusta beans. Robusta has a higher caffeine content, neutral flavor and a heavier body than arabica. Robusta beans are commonly used in instant coffee, and as a price stabilizer in commercial grade blends. The seeds found inside the berries of the fruit produced by the coffea plant in their natural state after harvesting and processing are referred to throughout the coffee industry as “green coffee beans”.
Determining Coffee Bean Quality
Green coffee bean prices are largely dependent on the grade. The grade classifies coffee according to botanical variety, growing altitude, processing method, density, size, color, cup quality, imperfections and the presence of foreign matter such as stones and twigs. Grade is one of the two methods used to determine the commercial value to importers, roasters, distributors, and ultimately to consumers. The other determinant value is organoleptic* (relating to perception by a sensory organ) testing. Availability also plays a big role in coffee pricing. Unseasonable or adverse weather conditions can damage coffee crops, resulting in shortages that drive up the market price.
Coffee Beans Online
Ordering your coffee from Hidden House Coffee online has many advantages. At Hidden House Coffee we use only the highest quality coffee beans and we roast each order fresh. After roasting we immediately pack and seal the coffee so it will stay fresh, and ship it right to your door.
Coffee at its best Convenient and Fresh!!
Certified Organic Coffee
Organic coffee beans are coffee beans that have been produced without the use of pesticides or herbicides. This is both beneficial to both the producer and the consumer. The definition of certified organic coffee can be extended to include an emphasis on recycling, composting, soil health, and protection of the environment. These are important aspects to sustainability that are both cost effective and socially responsible. Certified organic coffee is certified by a third party.