The Differences Between Specialty Coffee

Michael Elligett

Arabica vs Robusta. 

Premium coffee blend vs single origin coffee. 

Confused yet? Coffee terminology can get as murky as the bottom of an unwashed coffee pot. 

However, as a cafe owner, mastering all aspects of coffee is a must. To help you along, we break down the differences between various specialty coffees.


The Differences Between Specialty Coffee


Premium coffee blend

This type of coffee is named as such simply because it’s a combination of coffee bean crops sourced from different farms or areas. 

As the name suggests, it uses higher quality coffee beans and combines different flavours into one unique blend. Using primarily 100% Arabica beans. 

Although Arabica is the world’s most popular coffee bean, it is extremely hard to produce. The plant is fragile and susceptible to pest attacks. It also only grows in cool, subtropical climates and higher elevations. This makes Arabica more expensive than other coffee types.

Having 100% Arabica beans already makes premium coffee blend a cut above the rest. This gives it a full body and a sweeter, smoother taste. 

To level-up its value, the unique taste comes into play. The most important thing to remember when it comes to premium coffee blends is how the different coffee beans complement each other’s taste and qualities. The mix gives each brew a distinct aroma and flavour. 

Perhaps the best way to describe this type of coffee is to give an example. 

The DC Duchess Beans is a blend of Sao Silvestre and Kongo beans. This combination gives it notes of dark chocolate from the Sao Silvestre and ripe cherry with a syrupy finish from the Kongo. 

Compare that with DC’s Bside blend of Armenia, Columbia and Labareda beans. This one can be likened to a mix-tape of caramel, raw sugar and nectarine. Sweet but with a fruity-tangy undertone.

Top-tier high-quality premium coffee blends will make customers keep coming back for more. It especially appeals to many younger coffee drinkers. The variety of flavours meets their demand for more than just the regular coffee taste. 

A note of warning. You need to be careful if you plan to offer this type of coffee to your customers. Some “premium” blends use fillers to bring down the cost of products. This means you need to look closely at the ingredients and source your coffee from a reliable supplier. 

Single origin coffee

Just like premium coffee blends, single origin coffee also uses Arabica beans. However, as you can infer from the name, single origin coffee uses beans from one region, country or farm. Sometimes single origin coffee can be a blend of different coffee varieties but still from the same source.

Factors like humidity, elevation and soil condition affect the final product. Each coffee producer also has a different way of growing the plants and harvesting and roasting the beans. Allowing single origin coffee to offer as wide a variety of flavours as gourmet coffee does.

For example, the Indonesia Nihuta Triple Picked combines three bean varieties grown in North Sumatra. It offers everything that enthusiasts love about Sumatran coffee. A taste of spicy nutmeg, nutty walnut, syrupy caramel with a sweetness of raisins and molasses.

Meanwhile, the Sumatra Gayo also from Indonesia has black currant, green tobacco, capsicum and warm spice notes upfront. Then you’re hit with a sweet berry acidity carried by a heavy body and sweet molasses finish.

Each cup offers an exclusive coffee experience at its purest form. Single origin coffee is also best enjoyed black as supplements like sugar could overpower its inherent flavour. This is why single origin coffee attracts die-hard enthusiasts and working professionals. For other drinkers, single origin coffee’s taste may be a bit too overpowering. So it’s best to offer them something else like premium coffee blend or Robusta coffee mixed with complementing supplements.

Robusta coffee

Unlike Arabica beans, Robusta beans come from a more resilient plant. Farmers also produce more coffee with lower production costs so it has a cheaper price tag than Arabica coffee. 

You will find it primarily in espresso and instant coffee, but some coffee blends use it as a filler as well since it produces a strong coffee flavour. 

Although it is notoriously bitter, high-quality Robusta coffee can have an almost peanut-like taste. Just as the name suggests, it is very robust. It has higher caffeine content and less acidity than coffee made from Arabica beans. This makes it a good choice for people who want a more intense caffeine kick but don’t have the time to wait for a long brew.

If your cafe offers Robusta coffee, you can serve it as espresso shots. You can also top it up with interesting supplements like coffee syrups to further enhance the flavour.

Which type of coffee bean is right for your customers?

As you have read, specialty coffee like premium coffee blend and single origin coffee and even Robusta coffee have their merits and demerits. At the end of the day, everything boils down to what your customers like. 

Offering the same old coffee can be boring and might make customers lose interest in your cafe. However, by offering different types of coffee you’ll be able to cater to a wider range of customer tastes and seasons. Think of it as the coffee equivalent of a buffet. More options means more and varied experiences. Needless to say, more customers means more profit for your business. 

Of course, you will want to partner up with a supplier that offers a wide selection of coffee types so you get different products from just one source. Logistics become easier and faster too if you talk with just one supplier that you can rely on for prompt deliveries. 

Giving your customers plenty of options keeps your cafe up-to-date with the changing trends and behaviours of coffee drinkers. It also shows you care about your customers’ likes and dislikes.

Do you want to start exploring the varied world of coffee? We offer different types of specialty coffees. Simply contact our Sales Manager Daniel Lim at 02 9472 8555 or order online for pickup/local delivery!  

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