Specialty coffee refers to the whole process from farmer to cup using single origin coffee. It refers to the way the coffee is roasted and how it is extracted. "Specialty coffee" was first used in 1974 by Erna Knutsen in an issue of Tea & Coffee Trade Journal. Knutsen used this term to describe beans of the best flavor which are produced in special microclimates.
Specialty coffee should not be confused with "gourmet" or "premium" coffee. The latter are marketing terms with no defined standards. According to the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA), coffee which scores 80 points or above on a 100-point scale is graded "speciality".
Specialty coffees are grown in special and ideal climates, and are distinctive because of their full cup taste and little to no defects. The unique flavours and tastes are a result of the special characteristics and composition of the soils in which they are produced.