Updated: Jul 3
Finding the perfect coffee is a complex mix of the right blend of flavours, the right strength, the right feel. And as global awareness of farming practices has grown, it’s also important for many people to know just where their coffee is from.
For most people their search ends at their favourite café. They find a coffee they like in a place that suits them.
But those who like to make their coffee at home are often left wanting. The mass-produced beans available often just don’t cut it.
Flavours and intensities are limited
Freshness and quality is compromised
There are questions about where and how the coffee is sourced
There are questions about how major food companies, and their parent companies, treat communities around the globe
Specialty coffee beans.
How Specialty Coffee Beans are Different
You might think that it’s all a bit overstated. Yes, different roasting methods produces different flavours and subtleties, but a medium roast is a medium roast, surely?
If you’ve never tried specialty coffee beans before, the simplest way to find out how they differ is to sample it and find out.
Perhaps the simplest way to think of the difference is between a cheap, store-bought sweater, and something hand-knit just for you.
They’ll both do the job and keep you warm (at least, hopefully), but there is a quality and uniqueness to the home-made sweater that just can’t be matched. The higher quality materials, the manual knitted weave, the little touches that say that this piece of clothing was made by hand, by a person, with care and attention.
It’s the same with trying a specialty coffee bean for the first time. It’s coffee, but different. Better.
The key difference can almost be boiled down to a simple factor: intimacy.
There’s a much closer relationship between the coffee drinker and the specialty coffee bean roaster, than the coffee drinker and the mass-market producer.
This isn’t just a metaphorical closeness, either; you can literally live closer to the supplier, in the same country, state, or even city.
And it works both ways. Not only are you closer to them, but they’re seeking a more personal connection with you. The specialty coffee bean supplier isn’t interested in global domination; they just want to provide the best coffee experience for those around them.
How does this translate to a better coffee drinking experience?
More Flavour Options
A specialty coffee bean provider doesn’t need to worry about making sure every variety has mass-market appeal. They’re free to experiment with flavours, adding subtle notes of spices, fruits, berries, and other aromatics to their coffee.
These flavours aren’t just the result of topical applications after the beans are harvested and roasted, either. Careful cultivation and growing of the coffee plant can result in rich, new flavours bred into the beans themselves.
This is something most mass-produced beans can never achieve due to the large volumes of green beans they need to secure often years in advance. For the specialty coffee beans this attention to detail is a special part of the quality of coffee bean produced.
Industrial, international coffee producers bulk roast their coffee with a bland, bitter flavour profile that will not degrade over time. This allows the beans to sit in warehouses, shipping docks and shelves without a change in after taste, often at the expense of taste and quality.
With a specialty coffee bean, you can get beans freshly roasted from your local roasters who usually stick to small distribution areas. Leaving you with the comfort of knowing your coffee beans are shipped to you within their ideal drinking time. This ensures that the quality of your morning cup is not compromised in any way.
If nothing else, that aspect alone provides subtleties and richness to the flavour that many people don’t even realise they were missing before. It’s why some particularly enthusiastic coffee drinkers go so far as to roast their own beans; a bit of a challenge, but worth the results.
Because specialty coffee bean suppliers usually stick to small distribution areas, you know that those beans are the freshest they possibly can be.
You’ve been able to find the freshest specialty beans that are exact to your tastes — your desired flavour, strength, bitterness, body, roast, you name it.
And that’s great. But what’s better is that you’ve also supported your local community.
The money you spend on those beans isn’t being divested off-shore to foreign companies avoiding taxes in Australia. They’re going to local businesses and local coffee roasters right here in Australia.
In fact, right here in WA.
These people live in the same communities, affected by the same issues, the same weather, the same politics, the same social justice concerns. When you support them, you in turn support every other aspect of your community.
There’s much greater transparency about where the product is coming from, and who’s sourcing it. You can often even drive to the roasteries yourself and say hello.
You can find suppliers who support the same causes you do, or share the same beliefs about how the community should grow and function. The simple act of enjoying your freshly brewed cup of coffee every morning can be a meaningful part of a greater connection with those around you.
And, of course, taste great.
That’s why the Perth Coffee Exchange exists. We want to connect avid coffee connoisseurs with the best Perth-based specialty coffee beans around. More than just providing good coffee to thousands of people across the city — and the state — we’re helping to connect businesses to customers and communities with each other.