What Is Speciality Grade? Isn't Coffee Just Coffee?

Coffee Testing

The term ‘Specialty coffee’ or ‘Speciality coffee’ is used to refer to coffee that is graded 80 points or above on a 100 point scale by a certified coffee taster (SCAA) or by a licensed Q Grader(CQI).

Specialty coffees are coffees at their peak and are different to other coffee because specialty coffee has been grown at the perfect altitude, at the correct time of year, in the best soil, and then picked at just the right time. All this translates into some of the most exciting and tasty coffee in the world.

See the specialty coffee-grading sheet below

Grading Sheet


At Legendary Aviation Coffee Company, in order to stand out from our competitors, and to not be "another coffee company" all of our beans MUST score above an 85 in order to be considered for production.


Specialty coffee is defined as any coffee that scores above 80 points on a 100 point scale.

Typically, specialty coffee is grown at high altitudes, with much care and attention from the farmer. From there, it is sold at a premium to coffee traders, or direct to roasters.

The roasters then create custom profiles for each coffee, enhancing and highlighting their natural flavours.

Baristas then use the carefully grown and roasted coffee to produce quality beverages, often with high precision and specialized equipment.

Coffee Flavor Wheel


Green coffee is graded via visual inspection and cupping. Visual inspection involves taking a 350g sample of green coffee beans and counting defective beans.

Defects can be Primary (e.g. black beans, sour beans) or Secondary (e.g. broken beans). For a coffee to qualify as “speciality”, it must have zero Primary defects and less than five Secondary defects.

Cupping involves roasting the coffee and brewing simply with hot water, and relies on the skill of the taster to assign scores to each of the coffee’s attributes, such the acidity, body, flavour and aroma.

Coffee Cupping

(Credit to the SCA)


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