Coffee is a soft commodity derived from a plant that grows mostly in subtropical and tropical climates.
The beverage produced from the cherries on these plants is a primary source of caffeine in diets in both emerging and developed countries.
Coffee is such an important dietary staple across the world that it has spawned a staggeringly large economy of its own. Coffee roasters, packers, growers, marketers and coffee equipment manufacturers depend on the commodity as do dairy producers and restaurant operators. Coffee commodity prices, therefore, play a vital role in the global economy.
Coffee plants grow in two varieties Arabica and Robusta. The cherry that grows on the plant contains seeds – known as beans – that are roasted to make coffee.
Lower Altitude Crops: These crops require well-defined rainy and dry seasons and altitudes of between 1,800 and 3,600 feet. Such conditions produce distinct growing and maturation seasons. Mexico, Jamaica, some areas of Brazil and Zimbabwe are countries with these types of conditions.
Higher Altitude Crops: These crops grow near the equator at altitudes of 3,600 to 6,300 feet. Coffee plants here require frequent rainfall and produce two harvesting seasons. Kenya, Colombia and Ethiopia are countries with these climate and geographical conditions.
Robusta plants generally grow at much lower altitudes than Arabica crops. Coffee producers plant Robusta in regions 10 degrees north or south of the equator at altitudes ranging from sea level to 3,000 feet. Robusta plants can tolerate warmer weather than Arabica plants. Specialty coffee beans are only Arabica’s
Speciality coffee beans are generally only available in small batches as they are a single harvest of a particular varietal of coffee beans from a distinct geographical location. So quite literally with regards to speciality coffee when its gone its gone (unless the next coffee harvest is as good)
The term Speciality coffee refers to the whole process of coffee bean production from farmer and the farm through the handling of the coffee cherries and their preparation prior to shipping through to final roasting and how the coffee is extracted from the final roasted coffee beans.
According to the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA), coffee beans that achieve a quality or “Q” score of 80 or above on a 100-point scale are graded “specialty”.