Specialty coffee is a term for the highest grade of coffee available, typically relating to the entire supply chain, using single origin or single estate coffee. The term was first used in 1974 by Erna Knutsen in an issue of Tea & Coffee Trade Journal. Knutsen used specialty coffee to describe beans of the best flavor which are produced in special micro-climates.
Specialty coffee is related to what is known as the Third Wave of Coffee, especially throughout North America. This refers to a modern demand for exceptional quality coffee, both farmed and brewed to a significantly higher than average standard.