We've heard the term 'Specialty Coffee' several times in the fraternity to know it's become something of a buzzword. But what does it mean? And more importantly, why is this coffee treated so differently?
The Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) evaluates brewed coffee on a 100-point scale on the basis of its aroma, sweetness, and acidity. This scoring protocol was developed to separate specialty coffee from commercial or conventional coffee, and offer a better reference point to consumers.
Breaking Down SCA’s 100-Point Scale
The SCA scoring protocol accounts for a 45 minute run-time where the coffee judge (cupper) evaluates the characteristics of the coffee at various temperatures: room, hot, and warm. They look into 10 principles as a basis of judgement: fragrance, flavour, aftertaste, acidity, body, uniformity, balance, cleanliness of cup, sweetness, and overall composure.
Specialty Coffees score 80+ points for their clarity and complexity and they are in the top 5% of global coffees; premium coffees fetch 95 points or higher. This is only possible when the entire chain runs on stellar standards i.e. from the wellbeing of the land and its people to the final consistency and character of the cup.
It’s simple, really. When quality cherry is grown with excellent farming practices, you'll get a bean that can withstand heavy roasting and brewing. Even one chief defect in a single bean can throw off the entire pot of coffee.
Specialty coffee is made with single-origin beans, grown with ethical farming practices and harvested at one-acre farms with distinct soil, climate, and altitude. Precise and scientific roasting of raw green beans brings out the gourmet coffee’s unique profiles and flavour.
Especially with coffee, raw ingredients have the potential to elevate the outcome. Quality control at the start of the cycle determines a good brew at the end of the day.
Did You Know? ARAKU Coffee has a score of 91
ARAKU has repeatedly earned 91 (of 100) by independent cuppers from around the world, setting a new benchmark for Indian coffee.
Fun fact: In 2020, we broke several records. This was the first time all ARAKU Coffees were declared as specialty coffee by an international jury from Bulgaria, Canada, and the USA.
Two coffee lots scored 95 points in the Specialty Coffee ranking; the highest score in ARAKU’s cupping history yet, putting them in an exclusive club of less than 20 such handpicked coffees from around the world.
That very year, 19 coffee lots scored above 90 points. All of the 30 coffee lots scored 85 points and above, boldly declaring their specialty coffee status!
At ARAKU, we use exclusive vitamin and mineral-rich biofertilizers to grow our coffee trees. Regenerative Organic+ farming, such as this, promotes plant quality and the integrity of our ecosystem. It creates coffee beans that are certified organic, non-GMO and chemical-free – ultimately ensuring a rich untampered taste profile.
Each batch is 100% Arabica coffee beans of unblended single origin quality — and every harvest is processed in-house to ensure optimal selection and quality. These are then roasted in Araku’s facilities with drum roasting technology. This preserves the natural flavour and aromas of the beans so that they can express the unique taste profile of our terroir-based farms.
With the unique terroir of Araku valley, we’re able to grow gourmet coffee with regenerative agriculture practices in small plots and establish biodynamic diversity. Our fully integrated value chain is designed to incorporate collaboration between bean experts and farmers to create a delicious brew.
ARAKU Coffee is exclusively grown by our independent farmer cooperative in family-run micro-lot plantations. Each coffee-tree is nurtured from seeds developed and hand cultivated within our in-house nurseries. These nurseries use minimal mechanization in low-density plots wherein each bean is shade-grown. Coffee plantations are Araku’s heart and soul; we take complete care of them so that when they are brewed for your cup, they meet you just how you like it.
Bringing you India’s first terroir-mapped coffee, which is both organic and fairtrade certified, has been a rollercoaster ride, now over 20 years in the making. It’s taken tireless efforts by team Naandi Foundation, village volunteers, members of the coffee cooperative, and finally the heroes of our story — the farmers of Araku.
Through ARAKU Coffee, tribal farmers from the Eastern Ghats of India have had their work celebrated in the heart of Paris, at our very first flagship, and namma Bengaluru, our first flagship at home.
#Arakunomics has transformed lives, and has since become a model recognised by The Rockefeller Foundation’s ‘Food System Vision 2050 Prize’. In 2018, the World Economic Forum shared our journey, describing “how indigenous Indian farmers are fighting deforestation with gourmet coffee.”
We’re very proud to say that every cup made from ARAKU Coffee beans can be traced back to a farmer in the Araku valley.
Bringing You The Best
For ARAKU’s Signature, Micro Climate, Grand Reserve, Selection, High Altitude and Early Harvest coffees, we roast green beans at our café and roastery in Bangalore – daily! The coffees are roasted-to-order, right before they are served in the café or shipped to your doorstep, anywhere in India.
This flagship also happens to be home to India’s first globally-accredited Speciality Coffee Association Premier Training Campus. The campus also offers courses on green coffee, barista skills, brewing and roasting, taught by authorised SCA trainers.