What’s so Special about Speciality Coffee?

What’s so Special about Speciality Coffee?

Valuing the role of independent roasters, coffee shops and the beauty of knowing the journey from the farm to your cup, writes Tom Featherstone.

I have had the pleasure of running Metronome Coffee House in Merton where my life revolves around community, music, and coffee – naturally. This has led me to connect with people at different levels of the coffee journey giving me an increasingly deeper understanding of the work that goes into each cup of coffee. Unfortunately, I think speciality coffee, to no one’s fault in particular, has found itself being perceived inaccessible to many due to the aesthetic that tends to accompany it. I love cute coffee shops, delicate ceramic cups, and beautiful espresso machines as much as the next guy but this extra ‘packaging’ is not what makes speciality coffee special. The beauty of speciality coffee lies in its transparency from bean to cup.

Coffee has become such a part of our everyday lives that it has become very easy to overlook the work that has gone into getting it into your cup. From farmer to barista – there are many choices for sustainability and quality made along the way.

At a glance, details such as altitude and proximity to other produce greatly affect the characteristics of the coffee crop grown for farmers. In addition, the post harvest process used to separate the beans from the cherry plays a big part in the end result in your cup.

The roasters choose their ‘green beans’ – the raw product – based on what they know about the region grown and the farming methods mentioned above. A big part of coffee roasting is relationships with the farmers, building trust between the two parties knowing year on year both will deliver on what is expected of them. Through this relationship, the roasters can get a sense of what they want to do with these particular beans and create a roast profile. Before I visited Chimney Fire Roasters in Dorking, my understanding of this process was that it was very automatic – how wrong I was. After roasting, they carry out all their tests to ensure each batch is roasted perfectly according to their designed profiles, and then they are ready to be delivered.

At the final stage of the journey with the coffee in the barista’s hands (metaphorically, hopefully) there are still an abundance of choices and methods available; a lot of things to get right and a lot of things to experiment with. There’s many things that I could elaborate on but I believe most pertinent is that, as baristas our job is to appreciate the work that has gone into the coffee in hand and do our best to celebrate that in each cup served.

At Metronome Coffee House, we are hosting our second annual coffee festival during October Half term (25th – 29th October) celebrating farmers and roasters throughout our week of events. Each day will see a different guest roaster featured with samples and tasting sessions throughout the day. Some of the roasters are running coffee workshops as well as latte art competitions or coffee cocktail evenings. We would love to invite you to get involved and come experience what we believe is so special about speciality coffee! A lot of the events are free but all need to be booked on our website at