#50 – Check-list “Is it a Specialty Coffee Place?”


… othewise it is just something else.


All of us know that saying “we have the best coffee” in social media does not need any criteria behind it. There will always be somebody who will say that particularly this coffee is the best.

This list not only takes in consideration if the place is serving specialty coffee, but also – how it is roasted and brewed. As you know it, specialty can easily stop being specialty if roaster or barista are failing.

Check-list “Is it Specialty?”

Coffee characteristics:

  • has clear information about: origin, variety, processing, and farm
  • roast date visible
  • coffee that is used is less than 4 weeks after the roast date
  • is graded 80 points or above on a 100 point scale by a certified coffee taster (SCAA) or by a licensed Q Grader(CQI) – this questions is to the roaster, and to the green coffee importer


  • HTST Milk (High Temperature Short Time Pasteurization) – no UHT milk.
  • Perferably uses fat milk
  • Milk for milk drinks is not overheated, so it mains the sweetness and adds the sweetness to the milk drinks


  • The water that is used is filtered or reverse osmosis

Barista work (espresso):

  • weights the dry coffee dose
  • measures the time of the shot
  • measures the weight of the shot
  • the routine includes using the scales as often as possible
  • adjusts espresso in the morning measuring the tds and checks it out various times throughout the day
  • tastes his own coffee and knows to describe the taste
  • knows the espresso recipe he is aiming for (and no, it is not 30ml in 30 seconds)
  • the steaming wand is cleaned before and after foaming the milk
  • the portafilters are emptied and cleaned right after making the coffees, and cleaned and dried before making it


Barista work (drip coffee):

  • washes the filter paper, preheats the serving vessel with hot water
  • uses scales and timer
  • has the procedure he follows from cup to cup
  • knows coffee recipe he is aiming for


Coffee taste:

because there are so many coffees, that will taste differently depending on the variety, origin, processing and brew method, I will put here in the check-list how it shouldn’t be tasting (black coffee):

  • old, rancid, oxidized
  • empty
  • dirty, ashy
  • sour and too sharp with no traces of sweetness
  • roasty
  • bitter, with no traces of sweetness (the point when you usually want to put sugar to make it drinkable)

and it should also have something interesting, enjoyable, something that will make you want to repeat it!

I think that’s it. Tell me if I am forgetting something crucial! 

It costs nothing to say for the coffee shop that they serve the best coffee.

But… Do they?

Published by liza maksimova

Q Grader. Roast Master. SCAE certified.

2 thoughts on “#50 – Check-list “Is it a Specialty Coffee Place?”

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