The difference between Specialty Grade Coffee and the coffee on your grocer's shelves.
(Aside from the price point, that is). If you're used to grabbing a bag of coffee off the shelves as you make your way down the grocery store aisle, or Target (or Starbucks, or Dunkin'...), then it's perfectly reasonable to wonder the difference between those coffees and the "specialty grade" coffee from Wild Kind.
Specialty grade isn't something a small roaster simply claims to be, but coffee that meets a clear set of defined industry standards, known as Q Grading, a numerically based scale, which is evaluated by a certified coffee taster or licensed grader. Q graders go through a rigorous and long certification process, and then work closely with, or are themselves, coffee exporters or buyers.
The Q coffee grading system has a possible 100 points, grading everything from aroma, to fragrance, acidity, flavor, aftertaste, balance, and many, many other points. The graders will perform blind taste tests of green (unroasted) coffee to eliminate coffee bias. Out of a possible 100 points, a coffee must be 80+ points to be considered specialty grade coffee, anything below that would be considered commodity (sorry, Starbucks). It is really uncommon to find 90+ point coffees and no coffee has received 100 points, due to the nature of the score sheet, it's almost impossible to hit perfect scores in all of the categories. Can you imagine the price of that cup of coffee?!
Aside from all the technicalities, there are several other factors that separates specialty coffee - one being freshness. Specialty coffees are often farm direct as opposed to commercial coffees which may not make it to the shelves until 6 months after the time the green coffee is purchased. Instead of farm direct, commercial grade coffee is purchased, exported, roasted by factory workers instead of craftsman, bagged, loaded onto trucks, sent to retailer stock rooms around the country, where it sits until the shelves need restocking. Coffee is optimal within 2-3 weeks of the roast date, and this is something commercial coffee just cannot achieve. So not only are our beans fresh, they are not roasted until your order comes through.
We recommend performing your own in-home blind taste test and put our coffee head to head with one of the many national brands. We think that's the best way to see just why some coffee truly is special.