What Is Specialty Coffee?

Stephen holmes peregrine owner

Stephen Holmes
Owner & Head Roaster

Do you stand in front of the overwhelming shelves of coffee at the grocery store and think, “They all taste the same”? You’re not wrong! Many feel this way about low quality coffee roasted en masse.

But the tide is turning.


coffee cupping table

Coffee’s Making Waves

Coffee is modernly defined by three waves that have arrived on the proverbial shores of “coffeeland”: Folgers, Starbucks, and specialty coffee. (Starbucks is no longer as relevant as you might’ve thought!)

First Wave:

The Folgers wave was mass produced coffee for every consumer, pre-ground so that it could be enjoyed by anyone. The goal was to buy the cheapest coffee so it was affordable. These roasters roast anything, including bits and pieces of beans because it’s all getting ground up anyway. This first wave lacked serious conscience of coffee farmers and quality coffee available.

Second Wave:

When roasters Starbucks came on the scene, the idea was to show the consumer that different coffee regions in the world tasted differently. Highlighting the uniqueness of regions the idea of whole-bean coffee took fast. However, their philosophy of roasting was too dark (no pun intended!) to actually showcase the nuance of those regions. 

While they pitched phrases like “fair trade” they were (and still are) only paying a fraction of a cent more per pound than the other guys. While companies like Starbucks roast whole beans, they do so in large batches, giving them no control of the finished result. While many people classify themselves as “serious coffee drinkers,” they are actually still riding the second wave of coffee. Peregrine Roasters is hoping to change that! We believe that everyone would jump on the third wave if they knew they were being sold a mediocre over-priced product.

Third Wave:

Specialty is a term exclusive to third-wave coffee. The second wave guys use phrases like “artisan” and “gourmet” but they cannot use “specialty coffee” on their bags. It is because specialty coffee actually has substance undergirding the phrase.

Within the specialty industry we aim to know our farmer’s names, we easily pay more than double, triple, and even ten times more than the big guys pay their farmers. This gives incentives to our farmers to grow the best coffee and they do it with joy (Check out Jairo and Fatima’s coffee here).

To qualify as specialty coffee, our coffee’s have been subjected to additional testing in order to produce a coffee with a score of 80 points or above. 

coffee cupping table

“To qualify as specialty coffee, our coffee’s have been subjected to additional testing in order to produce a coffee with a score of 80 points or above.”

The score is based on many factors, including fragrance, body, balance, and sweetness. Each coffee has unique characteristics to highlight, and we strive to maximize each bean’s potential through meticulous trial and error.  We do this in small batches, giving us crucial control over our end product. The result is coffee that truly surprises us.

We at Peregrine are specialty coffee roasters so naturally you will only find specialty grade coffee on our shelves. Just remember, that specialty means the following:

  • We pay our farmers what their hard work has earned them.
  • Coffees that are grown with meticulous care.
  • We take these coffees and maximize their potential in our small-batch roaster.
  • We sell them to those who care about these processes.

Most of the “other guys” cannot say the same.

If you consider yourself a coffee connoisseur, you are in good company at Peregrine! We have created a company that encourages loyalty to quality coffee.  We have intentionally set ourselves apart to serve you the best product we possibly can. Join us on the Peregrine journey!


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