Specialty coffee isn’t referred to as special for no reason.  If it were that easy, all coffee would be special, but not unique.

Shade, altitude, fertilizers and much more go into the detailed work of producing a specialty coffee.  The entire process of producing the coffee is met with a very high attention to detail that makes a difference when you enjoy your cup of coffee.

The quality control of your specialty coffee begins in the fields with hardworking cherry pickers.

Usually, coffee pickers are instructed to pick all cherries they see without regard to the quality associated with the color of the cherry.  Given that in the past coffee was viewed as a basic commodity focus was more on the money made from coffee in quantity.

The third wave of coffee is bringing some changes however.  Specialty coffee farm cherry pickers only pick the red, ripe cherries because it is the ripeness of the cherry that can give your final cup of coffee the sour or bitter taste often associated with non-specialty coffees.  Also, since these cherry pickers are still paid based on the weight of the cherries picked, they are now paid a premium given that the weight picked will be less, but the attention to detail is much higher.

Taking the attention to the quality of the cherry one step further some farms will also do a final hand-selection process of the cherries to make sure no over or underdeveloped cherries make it through.  Taking this additional step helps ensure that only the best cherries make it to the next step of processing.

The second quality control check comes in the hulling stage of processing.  Because even ripe cherries can have defects.  Beans with visible defects are tossed into pasilla and sold in what you would typically find in commercial grade coffee on the grocery shelves.

Once beans are hulled and left in their final green stage before roasted, there is another quality control check.  Per the SCAA criteria, specialty coffee must have zero primary defects, so it’s crucial to get rid of any defective beans.  We’ve talked a lot about quality control done by hand so far, but this is one time where machines could be used if desired.  The decision to use machines at this point for quality control general depends on the size of the company producing the beans.

At this point, farm processing is complete and the beans are ready for roasting.  With this, the quality checks continue to ensure the number of rejected beans are kept to a minimum.  The quality control checks throughout processing improves the quality of the coffee beans and creates a much better tasting cup of coffee.  But remember when you’re enjoying your cup of specialty coffee, that it isn’t just the processing that makes the coffee so great, it begins at the origin with quality control.

Order yourself a bag of Bell Lap Coffee today and taste the difference of Specialty Coffee!!

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