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What makes specialty coffee special?

Posted on November 11 2016

The third wave coffee shift is a huge passion of ours and something we enjoy educating people about. Some folks are curious about what separates specialty coffee from a regular olde cup of joe. In short, we'd say that it's the hyperfocus on quality and consistency in every step of the process, from bean to cup, that takes this traditionally standard commodity and elevates it.

Nesting at the pinnacle of the specialty coffee world is San Francisco's Sightglass Coffee. This is why: not only does Sightglass participate in direct trade with its farmers but they will personally visit each and every farm they work with to help tailor their techniques to growing perfection. In addition, SIghtglass will invest capital resources into these farms and work to foster long term relationships. Once the perfect farm is found and the best beans are selected, Sightglasss gets to roasting. Centralized in the heart of San Francisco's SoMa District, Sightglass has one main roaster; it's so beautiful that it might as well double as a performance art piece transparently located in the middle of their flagship cafe and headquarters. The deep attention to detail doesn't stop at the roasting process, the scrutiny applied to quantitative measurement and ongoing analysis flows through every barista serving Sightglass. This is because not just any old coffee shop can serve their coffee; they require highly trained baristas to learn their process so as not to negate the hard work put in up until the extraction process. The temperature of the water, the exact grind size, the optimal caramelization temperature of the milk, and not to mention the ebbing and flowing calculation of dosage, extraction duration, and yield... the list goes on. All of these variables are measured in a scientific manner and adjusted on an ongoing basis according to each coffee's individuality. But more important than any of this is the taste, not everyone's palate is developed enough to decipher the complexity of Sightglass's coffee but, those that are, know just how rare it is to find this balance and clarity in their daily coffee and that's what ultimately sets it apart from other roasters out there. 

Photograph: Oscar Rendon

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