We have all been there, you pull up into a town or city that you have never been to before, and you have no clue where to go for coffee. You pull up your favorite search engine and search for the best coffee shops nearby, and all you get are results for coffee shops with a wall of syrups. You scroll through scores of poorly designed cafes and out of necessity end up at the closest corporate chain coffee shop.
This may be most people's normal experience, but it shouldn't be. With the advent of specialty coffee, there is no reason that you should have to deal with big-box chains or cafes with sub-par quality. While specialty coffee is finding itself to be more prevalent across the country, more options are offering better coffee. However, it's still not always the easiest to find, but in this quick guide, we will give you a few tips to make it easier for your next trip out of town.
What Is Specialty Coffee?
Before we can tell you where to look for better coffee, having a good understanding of specialty coffee is paramount. Simply put, Specialty Coffee is coffee that scores higher than 80 points on a 100-point scale by a coffee taster, or a Q Grader.
Specialty coffee has taken the market by storm over the last decade growing to nearly 55% of all retail coffee sold according to the SCA(Specialty Coffee Association) This is good news, as specialty coffee is often more ethically and sustainably sourced.
In fact, coffee cultivation and processing have been taken to new heights. Anaerobic and lactic processes have seeped over from the wine-making industry, as well as the exploration of Eugenioides and higher quality Robusta, both coffee species that are not traditionally known for specialty coffee ratings. Also important are the ethical sourcing methods, which are built around equity and sustainability.
That growth in the market means that there are more incredible coffee shops serving specialty coffee. By looking forward a new coffee industry has begun to take shape, promoting ethics in sourcing and treatment of labor, and exploring quality and flavor. Coffee is not what it once was.
Specialty Coffee In A Cafe Setting
The production and roasting of specialty coffee is only half of the equation. You can be the highest scoring washed Colombia Geisha ever and it could be prepared poorly. Specialty coffee is all about yielding the best quality cup of coffee that showcases the hard work of the entire value train from the growers to the barista.
Quality coffee shops will have stringent guidelines on how to prepare different coffees to eek out the most flavor. For example, our Ethiopian Koke is best on as a pour over with a recipe of 1:16 ratio. On espresso, it is best at a 1:2 ratio (our recipe is 18g in 36g out at 27 seconds to be exact).
Where Can I Find Specialty Coffee
Now that we are armed with some basis of what specialty coffee is and how it should be prepared, we can dig in to find specialty coffee near you. Here are a few tips on how to search out specialty coffee in the wild:
Messaging is an important part of specialty coffee. Most cafes in the specialty realm will pride themselves on providing higher quality specialty coffee. Also, the likelihood that they roast their coffee is high, as one marker of specialty is having more ownership of the process
Alternative Brewing Methods
Most specialty shops will offer alternative brewing methods in addition to their regular drip. Think pour-over devices such as v60s, Kalita Wave’s, and other interesting brewing methods. This allows cafes to showcase different coffees in their lineup without wasting entire batches, and directing the quality of the cup.
Most specialty cafes will have simple menus. Typically they will offer, drip, pour-over, classic espresso-based drinks, and a handful of seasonal or specialty items. This could be a frustrating thing if it's not something that you are used to. However, don't overlook a simple menu, the whole point is to showcase coffee and its beauty and flavor.
Specialty coffee shops typically abide by the law of good vibes. Lofi beats to study to playlists and minimalist but beautiful design make it easy to not be distracted, but instead, enjoy quality coffee and the company of your friends. You can always guarantee good vibes at a quality shop.
Most Important - Good Coffee
Specialty coffee shops cannot do without good coffee. By simplifying the menu, offering solid alternative brewing methods, and paying attention to quality from beginning to end, you can bet that you are experiencing the best of what specialty coffee has to offer.
Finding specialty coffee in your city, or while traveling doesn't have to be burdensome. Armed with a little bit of knowledge, and some luck, finding specialty coffee isn't all that hard. More specifically you can find incredible specialty coffee shops in North Wilkesboro NC as well as Winston Salem, NC, at one of our two locations!
Anchor Coffee Co is proud to be a specialty coffee roaster and retailer based in the foothills of North Carolina and serving Wilkes County, Forsyth County, as well as online. If you are looking for a third place, check out one of our locations. You can also find our coffee online here.