What is Specialty Coffee?

All about fairness, trade and roasting

Coffee first. Save the world later.

– C. George

Bild zeigt Specialty Coffee während des Filterprozesses

Who is that Specialty Coffee, Anyway?

We often forget one thing because coffee has become such a natural part of our daily lives. Namely, that coffee is quite a complex substance.

Not only does the preparation make a big difference in taste – equally (or actually even more), the bean itself, the roasting temperature and duration, and the grind size can make the difference between “swill” and “magic you can drink.”

And where there’s diversity, there are also experts. You can think of the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) as a jury of coffee experts who examine these differences down to the smallest detail.

The SCA uses a scoring system where a score of 100 would represent the highest quality green coffee. Anything scoring above 80 falls into the category of specialty coffee.

By the way, the SCA has not yet awarded a perfect score of 100 points.


The special parts of Specialty Coffee:

Taste and quality

Specialty Coffee is characterized by a unique taste and complex flavors.

Each cup offers an individual taste experience influenced by factors such as the growing region, variety, altitude, soil quality, processing method, and roasting profile. At Gallery 4, we personally select only the finest coffees with the help of local coffee sommeliers and have them expertly roasted in their country of origin.


Specialty Coffee values sustainable farming methods that preserve the environment and improve the livelihoods of coffee farmers. This may include cultivation in harmony with nature, fair trade practices, and investments in local communities. While the coffees we select may not be certified organic, the people with whom we work live and operate in alignment with nature.


From bean selection to roasting and preparation, Specialty Coffee is often crafted by artisans with a passion for coffee. Attention to detail and the pursuit of perfection characterize the entire supply chain. At Gallery 4, we collaborate with top roasters to obtain truly unique coffee beans, such as Ron Oscuro or Mandarina Honey.

Transparency and traceability

The origin of Specialty Coffee is often meticulously documented, allowing consumers the opportunity to learn the story behind their cup of coffee. This includes information about the coffee farmers, the growing region, harvest timing, and much more. While the term “Direct Trade” has already been established, it still doesn’t always provide a clear picture. At Gallery 4, we maintain direct trade relationships with farmers and roasters, ensuring we can easily trace the origin of every coffee we offer at any time.

Culture and community

Specialty Coffee promotes a vibrant coffee culture that brings people together to enjoy the beverage, exchange knowledge, and appreciate the diversity of coffee beans. Our community calls Gallery4 home. Come by and experience lively coffee discussions with our baristas and regular customers.

Overall, Specialty Coffee is an experience that elevates coffee to a higher level and promotes appreciation for the craftsmanship and stories behind each cup. It’s not just about the caffeine kick, but also about the experience of quality, craftsmanship, and community.

It’s all about good taste… Isn’t it?

In addition to qualitative aspects such as the number of defective coffee beans, Specialty Coffee is evaluated by professionals based on various sensory criteria. These “coffee sommeliers,” known as Q-Graders, undergo sensory training defined by the Specialty Coffee Association. They assess the following aspects during cupping:


The aroma is the scent that rises from the coffee, especially when freshly ground or brewed. It can exhibit various notes of fruits, flowers, spices, chocolate, nuts, and more. These aromas are depicted in the Coffee Taster’s Flavor Wheel.


The taste encompasses the sensory impressions perceived on the tongue. Taste sensations include sweet, sour, bitter, salty, and umami, with the latter not occurring in coffee.


The body describes the texture and mouthfeel of the coffee in the mouth. A coffee can be light, medium-bodied, or full-bodied and can have a watery, creamy, or oily consistency.


The acidity in coffee gives it liveliness and freshness. Appropriate acidity can give coffee complexity and depth, while too much or too little acidity can affect the taste.


The aftertaste or “finish” is the taste that remains in the mouth after the coffee has been swallowed. A good coffee has a pleasant and lingering aftertaste that completes the sensory experience.

The matter of roasting

Industrial coffee is typically dark roasted in large automated machines at temperatures up to 800°C in 1-4 minutes. This can upset some stomachs: the chlorogenic acid present in raw coffee beans cannot be broken down in such a short time.

Higher-quality coffee, especially Specialty Coffee, is roasted in drum roasters. These allow for more precise control over the roasting process, adapting roast profiles to specific bean characteristics like density and moisture. Longer roasting times of 15-20 minutes and temperatures up to 230°C are typical.

Overall, roasting Specialty Coffee places a greater emphasis on quality, individuality, and sustainability compared to industrial coffee roasting, which prioritizes efficiency and mass production. Generally, black Specialty Coffee is also more digestible.