June 05, 2023 8 min read

Why is specialty coffee so expensive?
Have you ever wondered why specialty coffee is so expensive? Specialty coffee refers to the freshest craft coffee beans online, which are harvested under ideal conditions and come from specific terroirs. This distinction is made only for the best quality coffees with more distinguished flavors. In fact, only 5% of all coffee produced globally can be classified as specialty coffee! That's why it's so important to shop for the best specialty coffee online, so you can get the most out of your coffee-drinking experience. Keep reading to find out more about why specialty coffee is so expensive and where you can find the freshest craft coffee online.

What is specialty coffee?
Specialty coffee is a term used to describe the highest quality coffee beans available. These beans are grown and harvested under ideal conditions, ensuring that they have the most distinguished flavors and aromas. Unlike other types of coffee, specialty coffee comes from specific terroirs, meaning that it is often only available in small quantities. This makes it difficult to find fresh specialty coffee online or in stores. Only 5% of the coffee produced globally is considered specialty coffee, which explains why it is often priced higher than other types of coffee. If you are looking for the best specialty coffee online, you can expect to pay a premium for it due to its limited availability and superior quality.

The Ideal Growing Conditions
Specialty coffee is a type of coffee that is grown under ideal conditions to achieve distinguished flavors and high-quality taste. To produce the best coffee beans, it is important to provide the ideal climate, high elevation, and low moisture environment.
The ideal climate for growing specialty coffee varies depending on the origin and terroir. Generally, the ideal temperature range for coffee cultivation is between 18 to 21°C (65 to 70°F), and it should not exceed 32°C (90°F) during the day or drop below 12°C (54°F) at night. A high altitude also plays a crucial role in coffee cultivation. The higher the elevation, the slower the coffee plant grows, resulting in more concentrated flavors. In addition, lower moisture levels in the air reduce the likelihood of pest infestations, ensuring the beans remain healthy.
Farmers also take special care of the soil to provide the necessary nutrients for coffee trees. These ideal conditions create the perfect environment for producing the highest quality specialty coffee.
It is important to note that only a small percentage of the coffee produced globally qualifies as specialty coffee. According to the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA), only 5% of the coffee produced in the world reaches the standards required for specialty coffee.
With these ideal growing conditions in mind, specialty coffee production comes at a cost, making it more expensive than regular coffee. However, you can purchase fresh specialty coffee online right from our website to ensure that you are getting the best quality & experience for your money.

Specific Terroirs
One of the main factors that contribute to the high price of specialty coffee is its specific terroir. A terroir is a term used to describe a specific region where coffee is grown that has unique environmental conditions and characteristics that affect the flavor of the coffee beans. Certain regions in countries like Ethiopia, Colombia, and Costa Rica are known for producing exceptional specialty coffee beans, which is why I Prefer Craft Coffee stocks a rotating selection of each specialty coffee bean.
These areas have ideal growing conditions, including optimal altitude, temperature, and rainfall. They are also often located in remote areas that are difficult to access, which can contribute to the limited availability of specialty coffee. Due to the unique environmental conditions, these coffee beans often have more distinguished flavors that set them apart from other types of coffee.
Furthermore, the specialty coffee industry has a high demand for beans that are certified by the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA). The best SCA-certified coffees online are those that meet specific criteria for quality, including having a distinct flavor profile and high overall cup score. The certification process is rigorous, and not all coffee beans can meet the standards required to be classified as SCA certified.
Overall, the combination of ideal growing conditions and specific terroirs contributes to the limited availability of high-grade specialty coffee beans. Because they are only available in small quantities, the price is higher than for other types of coffee. However, for those who appreciate the unique flavors and quality of specialty coffee, it is worth the investment. You can find fresh specialty coffee online that comes from specific terroirs, allowing you to taste the difference for yourself.

Limited Availability
Another reason why specialty coffee is so expensive is due to its limited availability. These quality coffees come from small independently owned farms located in remote areas of the respective origin country. Unlike mass-produced coffees, specialty coffees are not readily available at your local grocery store.
Because specialty coffee is often available in small quantities, it can be difficult to find. However, many specialty coffee roasters offer SCA-certified coffees online for coffee enthusiasts to purchase.
Limited availability is also a result of the unique growing conditions and specific terroirs where specialty coffee is grown. The production of specialty coffee requires a high level of care and attention to detail, which is only feasible in small quantities.
In contrast, mass-produced coffees are grown and mechanically harvested on a large scale, making them more readily available and cheaper. However, the quality and flavor of these coffees are not comparable to specialty coffees.
It's important to keep in mind that the limited availability of specialty coffee is not a negative aspect, but rather a reflection of its quality. These coffees are the result of years of dedication and hard work from the farmers, making them worth the investment for coffee lovers.

Quality over Quantity
Specialty coffee is all about quality over quantity. While commercial coffee is produced in mass quantities with large machines to meet global demand, specialty coffee is all about the artisanal craft of producing the best cup of hand-picked & processed coffee possible. This focus on quality means that specialty coffee is grown, harvested, and processed with the utmost care to ensure that every bean has the potential to be truly exceptional.
Because specialty coffee is produced in small quantities, every single bean counts. Only the best of the best make it into bags of specialty coffee, and that's why it's so highly coveted. It's not just that specialty coffee tastes better than commercial coffee, it's that every single bean has been carefully cultivated to maximize flavor and aroma.
The difference in quality between commercial coffee and specialty coffee is so pronounced that many coffee enthusiasts are willing to pay a premium for the best craft coffee online. It's not just about having a fancy-sounding name or trendy packaging; it's about the truly exceptional flavor and aroma that can only come from beans that have been grown and harvested under ideal conditions.
 So the next time you enjoy a cup of specialty coffee, remember that you're not just drinking a beverage – you're savoring the fruits of a truly exceptional labor of love.

High Production Costs
One of the biggest factors that contribute to the high price of specialty coffee is the high production costs. Specialty coffee is grown under ideal conditions, using sustainable farming practices, and more often than not, in small quantities. All these factors add up to make specialty coffee a very costly endeavor.
To produce specialty coffee, farmers have to invest in high-quality equipment, such as irrigation systems, fertilizers, and tools, which are quite expensive. Additionally, the processing of specialty coffee requires a lot of manual labor, which increases production costs even more.
Another factor that drives up production costs is the certification process. Most specialty coffees are certified by the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA), which sets strict quality standards for coffee beans. Becoming SCA certified requires a lot of time, effort, and money, as farmers have to meet certain standards in terms of farming practices, processing, and overall quality.
Furthermore, transporting specialty coffee is also costly, as it often involves long distances and specialized transportation methods to preserve the quality of the beans. Many specialty coffees are also sold online, which adds additional costs, such as packaging and shipping.
All of these factors contribute to the high price of specialty coffee, but for coffee enthusiasts, it's worth it to pay the extra cost for a high-quality cup of coffee. In the end, it's not just about the taste, but also about supporting sustainable farming practices and fair trade practices that benefit the farmers who grow our coffee.

Labor Intensive Processes
Specialty coffee requires labor-intensive processes. From the planting, harvesting, and processing of the coffee cherries to the roasting and packaging of the beans, each step requires careful attention to detail.
Specialty coffee farmers typically handpick the coffee cherries to ensure that only the ripest ones are harvested. This requires a lot of time and effort, but it is necessary to produce high-quality coffee beans. The beans are then processed using one of three methods: the dry process, the wet process, or the honey process (though, there are many other new innovative processing techniques).
The dry process involves drying the cherries in the sun and then removing the outer layers of the cherry to reveal the coffee bean inside. This method is time-consuming and requires a lot of manual labor. On the other hand, the wet process involves removing the outer layers of the cherry using water, which is less labor-intensive but requires more water and energy. The honey process is a hybrid processing method where the cherry is removed but the mucilage is still intact throughout processing, which lends to a sweet and pungent fruit-forward coffee.
Once the beans are processed, they must be roasted to bring out their unique flavors. Roasting specialty coffee requires skill and expertise, as each batch of beans is roasted to a specific temperature and time to achieve the desired flavor profile. The beans must then be packaged and shipped to ensure that they arrive fresh at their final destination.
It is clear that producing specialty coffee is a labor-intensive process that requires a lot of time, effort, and expertise, which also lends to its hefty price tag.

Fair Trade Practices and Sustainability
While the taste of specialty coffee is a primary driver for the higher prices, it is important to consider the social and environmental impact of the industry. Fair Trade practices and providing livable wages to farmers are imperative to the growth and success of the specialty coffee industry. SCA-certified coffees, which come from producers that adhere to sustainable agricultural practices, ensure that growers are paid fairly for their work.
Not only do fair trade practices support the people behind the coffee, they also help to preserve the land where it is grown. Specialty coffee is often grown in unique, ecologically sensitive regions, and supporting sustainable farming practices is crucial for protecting the natural environment. In addition, SCA-certified coffees guarantee that strict social and environmental standards are being met in order to receive certification.
For consumers, it is important to look for q-graded coffees online such as our extensive list of excellent q-graded specialty coffees. This not only supports the industry's dedication to sustainability but also ensures that you are receiving a quality product that is responsibly sourced. By investing in specialty coffee, we can help support farmers, protect the environment, and enjoy a delicious cup of coffee all at the same time.