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What is Specialty Grade Organic Coffee?

At Chameleon, we take pride in sourcing organic and specialty grade coffee for our Whole Bean and Cold-Brew Coffees. Our bottles and bags are marked with the recognizable USDA Organic logo, but what does it mean to have organic coffee that is also specialty grade?

What is Specialty Grade?

Coffee grown and produced all over the world is graded based on an 100-point SCA Coffee Scale, similar to wine, which analyzes primary and secondary defects found while testing green coffee and takes into account the relationship between these defective coffee beans found in a harvest and the quality of the coffee.

Typically, coffee ranking below 79 points, which does not qualify as specialty grade, is used commercially. Coffee beans ranking at 80 points or higher are classified as “specialty gradeand only make up about 10-15% of the global supply of coffee. At Chameleon, we most often source coffee that is rated at 82 points or higher to meet our brand standards for taste and quality.

What is specialty grade coffee and why is it important when sourcing organic coffee?

Is All Specialty Grade Coffee Organic?

In short, no, because the label of specialty grade does not comment on specific farming practices used to grow the coffee, which organic certification can do. Organic certification confirms that the farming practices used to grow the coffee tree are free of any pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, or genetic engineering. Organic coffee is important because it promotes a wholistic approach to farming and integrates cultural and natural practices. It’s these everyday practices that make an impact by using resources in a sustainable way and celebrating an improved ecological balance.

While there can be specialty grade coffee that is not certified organic, there can also be certified organic coffee that is not specialty grade. The coffee we source at Chameleon therefore falls under the “Organic Specialty” classification since it is both organic and specialty grade.

Why “Organic Specialty”?

We understand that it takes lots of time and effort in order to only source organic specialty coffee, especially when it makes up such a small portion of the global production of coffee. However, we believe that the best coffee not only tastes high quality, but it also does not contribute to the damage of the planet caused by non-organic farming methods.

To combat these challenges, Chameleon Cold-Brew invests in their partners and supply chain to ensure that the producers are treated well and have a steady supply of some of the highest quality organic coffees on the planet. Chameleon is also investing in women-led cooperatives in Myanmar, as well as Indonesia and Peru in the near future, by co-funding the organic certification for their coffee and ensuring their community can reap the benefits of producing higher quality, organic coffee.


Learn more about Chameleon’s commitment to sourcing organic, specialty grade and sustainably sourced coffee on our blog and our Instagram.

Author: Emma Hughes

Published on 06/26/2019