You might have seen bags of artisanal coffee lined on shelves the last time you went to a farmers’ market or maybe even a boutique café in your vicinity.
But what exactly is artisanal coffee, and how is it different from specialty coffee?
What is Artisanal Coffee?
What sets artisanal coffee apart from the others is the focus on craftsmanship and preserving traditional ways.
They are not mass-produced. Rather, the artisans only take into consideration small batches of coffee at a time and are directly involved in producing the coffee through hands-on processes.
To help you better understand artisanal coffee, here are the core characteristics:
Traditional Techniques - Much like some people value a good vintage aesthetic more than a modern one, artisans prioritise traditional ways of growing and producing coffee. This means minimising the use of ultra-modern technology and techniques. You’ll find that there’s value in the time-tested ways these coffee producers practice. How else can artisanal coffees be of such quality?
Small-Scale Production - Artisanal coffees are produced on a small scale in micro-mills allowing for a certain level of exclusivity. This means roasters can focus more on bringing out unique flavours from beans, catering to the preferences of their customers. Anyone who opts for artisanal coffee can rest assured that their coffee wasn’t roasted and stored for weeks before reaching them.
Handcrafted Approach - Once upon a time, coffee consumption was a matter of habit. People didn’t focus too much on sourcing high-quality, exclusive coffees. But now, the focus has shifted. Coffees made by hand, without the use of machinery often receive great praise, which is why there is a definite market for artisanal coffees.
- Regional Influence - If you want the coffee to truly reflect the taste of the origins, artisanal coffee is the way to go. They are roasted in such a way as to highlight the cultural/ regional flavour nuances allowing you to sample a variety of different tastes and aromas.
Artisanal Coffee vs Specialty Coffee
So how are they different from specialty coffee? Wasn’t specialty coffee supposed to be the superior choice?
You might be puzzled over the differences between the two. To put it simply, specialty coffee is all about attaining a high-quality standard through whatever means necessary. Any coffee that is graded above 80 on a 100-point scale gets the title of specialty coffee.
Apart from the scale of production and use of machines, there are a few other ways that artisanal and specialty coffees differ.
The barriers to entry distinguish the two types. In terms of coffee grading, specialty coffee wins the top rank. It has little to no defects and is given a high cupping score by coffee professionals called Q Graders.
Whereas, anyone can grow, produce, and sell artisanal coffee, even from their home. It doesn’t necessarily undergo such evaluations as specialty coffee.
Artisanal coffee doesn’t enjoy a global audience as specialty coffee, which is available worldwide through online retailers and coffee traders. Usually, artisanal coffee is often made accessible in local markets.
Sustainability is a factor that comes into the picture when we’re talking about artisanal and specialty coffee. In the case of the latter, following sustainable practices is crucial to the very philosophy of specialty coffee. Environmental impact and fair trade practices are kept in mind by people in the supply chain. On the other hand, artisanal coffee may not always be sustainability-centred.
Now that you know what artisanal and specialty coffees are like, you can choose the one that you prefer the most.
Comment and let us know about your experience trying out either of them.