We are witnessing a constant rise in the quality of specialty coffees here in the UK. It serves as a good reminder of the value of the long chain process from crop to cup that’s being supported, invested and mastered by skilled passionate coffee professionals.
At the end of this month, the now famous London Coffee Festival will be brim-full of exceptional specialty beverages. It’s important, though, that we don’t make the mistake of separating too widely those coffees in the specialty bracket with everything else that remains. By definition, a speciality coffee needs to score 80 out of 100 or above by a qualified Q-grader during the cupping process to enjoy rightly that revered definition. To reach that score, undoubtedly, that crop has been handled with love and attention at each and every stage of its journey.
It’s also worth noting that there are no Speciality Coffee Association grading points for scores under 80. However, just as for every £10k coffee machine in our foodservice outlets, there will be 30 £5k machines, for every specialty coffee being served, there will be nine that are not. They will, in many instances, be made with conscience, passion and professionalism. Their route from crop to cup will encompass quality processes and skilled trainers enabling operators to deliver the best in cup experience. The Beverage Standards Association (BSA) supports all of its members that are committed to the quality and training principle. We’re not elitist or inaccessible, we simply always strive for better quality. We don’t want anyone to experience or promote coffee that they’re not proud of.
So perhaps it’s time for a new term beneath ‘speciality coffee’ that stands for well-sourced, well-processed, well-roasted, well-made coffee? Let’s call it ‘quality coffee’. It might not make the 80-plus cupping scale, but if it has passed the processes and tastes great then it deserves a little more encouragement.
With knowledge, effort and a real desire for the consumer experience, we are witnessing leaps in standards in coffee, tea and hot chocolate, not to mention many of the new categories entering the hot beverage industry. Now if that’s not special then we’re doing ourselves an injustice.
Our City & Guilds training programmes provide a crucial first rung on the ladder of awareness and learning. The courses and standards provided by the BSA are increasingly recognised and wanted outside of our shores.
We know that any coffee tastes better when the milk is foamed to the correct standard. Basics always count and always will. There are great products and suppliers ready and willing to help you who are certified BSA members, and our new website makes it easy to find them.
So be proud of your products and your processes; work towards brewing and serving better drinks; and know that the work the BSA is doing is with you on that exciting journey up and down our towns and cities each and every day.