Here in Finland, we are fortunate to live in a world of choice and convenience. If you want a cup of coffee, it will generally be easy to find one. Supermarket shelves overflow with options. Sometimes it feels like there’s a café on every corner, ready to serve you a hot brown drink that could, broadly, be called coffee.
For a lot of people, that’s enough.
And yet, thankfully, specialty coffee remains a thing. And true coffee lovers will seek out the real deal when they can. For those who really want to find the best, it exists (here, at John’s Coffee, we think).
But why? Is it just a question of taste? Why is specialty coffee so important?
It’s like with cars…
I always love a good car analogy. Like coffee, if you are looking to buy a car, there are many options, some of which are special. But if you will forgive a slightly tortured analogy, we can take it a little further.
The high end car comes packed with options. Features and functions that make the car special. The people who are looking for that type of car expect to be on the cutting edge of technology. Parking assist cameras, air bags, when I was a child even electric windows were fancy. But all of these features have made their way to the mainstream.
Innovation happens in the specialty market, long before those innovations become normalised. And while you won’t be getting parking assist cameras on your coffee any time soon, it’s still true that specialty coffee is important to coffee innovation.
Big company, small caring?
The big brand names in coffee all benefit from the economy of scale. Their prices are lower because they buy so much coffee. But this need for volume comes at its own cost. The quantities of coffee involved means the only possible relationship between farmer and corporation is impersonal. By the time the coffee reaches you, any connection to its source is lost.
Specialty coffee houses have much closer relationships with their farmers. They know their stories, understand their needs, and ensure that they get a good price for their crop. When you drink a cup of our Women’s Coffee, for example, you can understand the story behind it (check out that blog here).
Buy a bag of beans from us, and you can do so with confidence. From farm to cup, everyone involved cares about the quality of your coffee.
The personal touch
But specialty coffee is more than just the beans. It’s a community. Coffee is a social drink, best enjoyed in company with conversation, it brings people together. Just as speciality coffee is the next level off coffee, the community around it is just that little bit more knowledgeable, discerning, and dare I say, you’re looking very well.
In my time learning the fine art of the barista, I’ve had a chance to meet and chat with some of our regulars. It doesn’t take long to realise many of them know a good deal more about the subject than I do. They know what they like, they know what they want and appreciate it when we provide it. We have espresso coffee and filter coffee, but if you want your coffee hand brewed in a V60, we can do that for you.
John likes to say, “The store is our home, the customers our guests.” We do our best to accommodate you. That’s what makes specialty coffee special.
Except of course, the fundamental.
Because we can’t talk about what makes specialty coffee important without coming all the way back around to taste. And of course, it’s not just one taste. Whether you like your coffee dark roasted with notes of chocolate, or something more delicate and fresh-tasting, speciality coffee can provide it. If you are looking for some truly unique flavour notes, specialty coffee is where you will find them.
A supermarket coffee needs to provide a middle of the road flavour that most people will find… okay. Specialty coffee can take risks, or target particular niche interests. If you have a passion for coffee, if you care about how it tastes, specialty coffee is important.