Specialty Coffee vs. Commercial Coffee

Coffee is the second most popular beverage in the world after water, with over 1 billion people drinking it daily. 

 While people mostly drink their coffee at the convenience of their homes and workplaces, other times it makes sense to visit local coffee shops and try different types of coffee-based drinks made by professional baristas.

In this blog post, we will briefly talk about the differences between commercial coffee, the type you usually see in supermarkets, and specialty coffee, the type you can order from Ideel Kaffe or consume at specialty coffee shops.

Ethiopian Coffee Farmer's Hand

Specialty Coffee

What’s the big deal with specialty coffee?

 Besides the higher quality, coffee drinkers have more choices and therefore a more personalized experience when drinking specialty coffee rather than commercial coffee. 

 You can buy specialty coffee by the origin of the beans (f.ex. Ethiopia, Colombia), roast (f.ex. French roast, Italian roast), blend, price, or flavor. 

 Commercial coffee is only available in a very limited selection of blend and roast, and little possibility of buying single-origin, unblended coffees.

 In this article we will take a look at the difference between specialty coffee and commercial coffee in terms of quality, coffee beans, flavor and caffeine level. 

Specialty Coffee vs. Commercial Coffee


The ‘status’ of specialty coffee is attributed to high-quality coffee graded 80 and above by the SCA scale. SCA stands for ‘Specialty Coffee Association’ which is the result of the fusion between the SCAA (Specialty Coffee Association of America) and SCAE (Specialty Coffee Association of Europe), resulting in a global non-profit organization dedicated to keeping high standards within the specialty coffee industry.

Commercial coffee is classified as such when it has not met the international SCA standards or has not been subject to them. Commercial coffee is viewed as ‘less pure’ than specialty coffee by specialists because it is potentially composed of different beans and from different sources.


Coffee Beans 

  • Specialty coffee is composed mostly of Arabica coffee beans.

Arabica beans can be compared to wine in their refinement of flavor. The type of experience most likely to make a person fall in love with coffee in the first place.

However, Arabica beans have a much lower caffeine content than Robusta beans. This is why Arabica coffee has a much gentler, sweeter, milder taste and even though the caffeine content is lower, it’s still more than enough to raise your alertness and focus levels.

Arabica beans have different sub-varieties and some of them can only be found in certain countries. Ethiopia has one of the highest number of naturally-occurring varieties of the coffee plant. Becoming familiar with varieties can help you understand how a certain coffee could taste.


  • Commercial coffee is largely made up of Robusta coffee beans.

Robusta beans are the ones most used in commercial coffee. Take instant coffee, for example: the beans are 100% Robusta. Blends and pre-ground coffee are also mostly composed of Robusta beans. But if Robusta beans pale in comparison to the taste and aroma of Arabica beans, why are they used? Simple: they require less care to grow and therefore are more profitable. 


Robusta beans are more resilient in extreme temperatures so instead of being bound to specific climatic conditions, Robusta beans can be grown in harsher environments.


Perhaps the most important factor of Robusta beans is that they are high in caffeine, which is one of the main reasons many people drink coffee in the first place.




Our conclusion is that specialty coffee is superior to commercial coffee both in terms of variety, quality, taste and aroma.

Commercial coffee is superior to specialty coffee in terms of caffeine level.

 If you’re searching for a unique coffee experience, we highly recommend you find a coffee shop that serves specialty coffee.

Our friends at Rista offer a coffee subscription with a 14-day free trial where subscribers can select different locations in Copenhagen and get one free coffee per day – including specialty coffee in selected locations.