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Specialty coffee is one of the biggest recent trends in beverages. Over the last couple of years, the sector has seen the founding of a new consumer-facing publication, a hot startup mail-order service, and numerous local and, increasingly, national roasters and coffee shops. Specialty coffee has gained something like the culture surrounding wine and craft beer, with a corresponding growth in the profitability and prestige of the sector.

If you want to explore this trend at home (or the office) without too much fuss, you can do so with three easy steps:

1. Buy whole beans and a burr grinder. If you’re buying pre-ground coffee, the biggest improvement you can make in your brew is to start grinding your own. The more air that comes in contact with coffee, the faster it goes stale, so it’s best to grind just before you brew. In addition, we recommend using a grinder with two conical burrs rather than a whirling blade. A burr grinder gives you a more even grind, which is crucial for most brew methods, and doesn’t scorch the beans, as a blade grinder can.

2. Try a lighter roast or single-origin coffee. Mass-market coffees tend to be roasted very dark, often to cover up lower-quality beans by giving them an aggressively roasted flavor. High-end coffee can tolerate a lighter roast, which allows roasters to highlight the huge variance of flavor in coffees from different parts of the world. Pick up a light-roasted Colombian coffee for something with classic coffee flavor, or grab a pound of an Ethiopian bean for a more unusual brew with fruity and acidic qualities.

3. Dabble in pour-over with a low-fuss method. Pour-over coffee has a reputation for being complicated and fussy, but it doesn’t need to be that way. Almost everyone has tried French press coffee, and there are a couple of other methods that are foolproof, quick, and convenient. The AeroPress has become popular recently because it’s easy to use and not time-consuming, using pressure to extract a strong brew from the beans very quickly. Another foolproof method is the Clever Coffee Dripper, which produces coffee that’s like a filtered French press. Either of these methods will give you a cheap, quick, and hard-to-screw-up entry into pour-over coffee brewing.

The specialty coffee industry is growing, and more and more people will be exposed to these trends. Give one of our tips a shot, and you’ll be able to act all hip when your friends start raving about their light-roasted beans.
Does your company need help understanding the latest food industry trends? At MarketPlace, we’re food industry insiders, constantly watching (and drinking) what’s hot. Get in touch, and let’s talk about how we can help you take advantage of the next food, beverage, or ingredient trend.

Matt Miller staff photo
Matt Miller writes, teaches, and practices biodynamic gardening near Reeds Spring, Missouri. A MarketPlace alum with a background in academic research, he’s fascinated with how culture, media, and business interact—and equally with the best methods of cultivating healthy fruit trees.