Specialty coffee is like the really cool coffee, it jumps up and down to entertain you, similar to Mexican Jumping Beans, without the bug. Just joking. Specialty coffee is coffee which has superiority to it. The cream of the crop. The bean every bean wants to be. It can incorporate flavors, social causes and even feces. Yes, I said feces. It is the technical term, would you prefer it if I had said poo-poo or doo-doo? Ok, so carrying on.
Specialty coffee by definition is basically coffee beans that are well prepared, freshly roasted, and properly brewed. The SCAA describes specialty coffee as "special geographic microclimates producing coffee beans with unique flavor profiles."
There are many specialty coffees and The Coffee Bean Queen site exposés the following types of specialty coffee:
Cat Crap Coffee: coffee made from .well you can guess (blush). Read the page and read it all, wait until you get to the weasel coffee part.
Organic Coffee: coffee made without unnatural chemicals.
Gourmet Coffee Beans: high end, ooh-la-la coffee.
Flavored Coffee: coffee with additional flavors baked in.
Coffee Flavorings: read about chicory and other coffee flavorings (just don't try the chicory. Can you say ummm, ewww?).
Fair Trade Coffee: socially responsible coffee.
Basically, the specialty coffee designation starts with the farm's growing conditions (including its climate, whether it is shade or sun grown, whether it uses chemicals etc.), whether it is processed correctly, roasted impeccably and finally and the most important factor.whether it is free from defects.
To be honest, I don't care if coffee beans have a specialty coffee designation. I just care that the coffee tastes good and I will try just about any coffee. There is a difference in coffee if the beans aren't consistent though. Always look for beans which have uniformity. It means the growing conditions were consistent. It results in an even grind and an even roast and eventually that warm taste which wakes you up in the morning. It's all good.specialty coffee or not.