The Miners Insider Blog

The Rise of Specialty Coffee


After oil, coffee is the second-most traded commodity in the world. Within the industry, one of its most popular segments is specialty coffee, but what’s so special about it? In this article, we’ll discuss its lifecycle, unique characteristics, and the ever-growing community that surrounds it.

Today, specialty coffee is defined as the highest grade of coffee available – a standard that demands the utmost care and attention from every stakeholder throughout the entire lifecycle of a coffee bean. Let’s break it down.

The Farmer: For the best cup of specialty coffee, we must first begin with the bean, or rather, the cherry. Many coffee farmers dedicate their entire lives to crafting and perfecting their harvests. From climate and altitude to picking and processing, there are an array of factors that a farmer must consider when delivering coffee to quality-minded buyers.

The Green Coffee Buyer: Similar to a sommelier, a green coffee buyer must have a palette capable of distinguishing the subtle notes and nuances of various coffees. They can then determine if the coffee in question is of specialty-grade quality, which means it would receive a score of 80 points or higher on a 100-point scale.

The Roaster: Next comes the roaster, who transforms the green beans into what most of us would recognize as coffee. Applying principles from thermodynamics and chemistry, the roaster's responsibility lies in preserving the inherent quality of the coffee bean throughout the roasting process. At this step, specialty coffees' unique aromas and distinct flavor profiles begin to shine through.

The Barista: Up next is everyone’s favorite – your cool, local barista. At this point, the specialty coffee has undergone several levels of inspection and is finally ready to be served. The barista's understanding of brewing techniques and comprehensive coffee knowledge ensures the perfect cup. (Remember, not all heroes wear capes!)

Customer: Last, but certainly not least, is the consumer! Whether it be a strong, smooth shot of espresso or a bright, fruity filter, it is ultimately up to you to determine which coffees will achieve commercial success. By making conscious choices when it comes to specialty coffee, you not only support quality but the special individuals who worked so hard to bring it to you.


As people become more invested in their morning cup of joe, and the Joe who made it, the culture around specialty coffee grows, yet can become confusing and overwhelming. Third Wave. Single-0rigin. Micro and Nano Lots. Artisanal Blends. What does it all mean? Again, let’s start at the beginning.

The first wave of coffee, in the early 20th century, marked a surge in coffee consumption; as the industry’s technology advanced, so did the availability of products. The second wave, starting in the 70s, ushered in brands like Starbucks, who saw coffee as more an experience than a commodity, and popularised the concept of the coffee date, transforming cafes into social hubs. This brings us to the third wave.

Beginning in the early 2000s, this wave was inspired by the Scandinavian preference for complex, lighter roasts. The movement placed emphasis on brewing techniques such as pour-overs and siphons, relying on skilled baristas to bring out the more subtle flavors in light-to-medium brews. These slower coffee making methods focused on the mindful and deliberate creation of each cup. V60s, French Presses, and Chemex devices ruled supreme over instant coffees and automatic drip machines, and compelled people to take 10-15 minutes out of their day to genuinely understand and enjoy the art of coffee making.

This wave also thrust single-origin coffee beans into the spotlight. As the term suggests, these roasts originate from a single, geographical location. For instance, brands like The Miners predominantly offer single-origin coffees with a story that can be traced back to one specific family or farm. From their Guava Banana filter sourced from the microlots of El Vergel in Colombia to their Brazilian espresso from the Bernardes family, The Miners, and many other specialty coffee shops have chosen to focus their energy on the consistency and distinctiveness of single-origins.

The third wave has also fostered an environment of consumer education and business transparency. The newly placed importance on these values forced conventional coffee shops to reevaluate their business strategies and, ultimately, their entire supply chain.

New GlobeScan research across 15 markets worldwide reveals that more people than ever before want to take personal action to live sustainably and buy more responsibly. In fact, over half (57%) of consumers globally pledged to shop at stores or visit a cafe with a strong Fairtrade commitment.

The desire of consumers for quality and sustainable beverages has propelled the coffee industry forward, and it hasn’t stopped there. The fourth wave of coffee has now entered the chat. Driven by Gen-Z, this wave has not yet been thoroughly defined but maintains its commitment to quality and transparency while also aiming to democratize and commercialize high-quality, specialty coffee. The fourth wave will champion inclusivity, striving to make quality accessible to a wider audience. It will also be served cold.


“The European region occurred as the largest market for the global specialty coffee with a market share of 46.21% and a market value of around 24.80 billion in 2021.”

So, if you're contemplating opening a coffee shop in 2023, it seems logical to focus on quality, specialty coffee, but it would also be prudent to keep accessibility in mind.

As we move away from the exclusivity of the third wave, we need to realize and accept that automation and mass markets don’t necessarily mean compromised quality. Both second and third-wave brands are now offering better coffee at even better prices, with a focus on the mass premium market. This approach does not completely discount the traditions of the third wave but rather expands upon them. In actuality, selling larger quantities of high-quality coffee at fair prices will possibly benefit the supply chain even more than selling smaller amounts at higher costs. More revenue for shops and suppliers will hopefully translate into more money injected into the supply chain, raising industry standards.

Brands like The Miners remain dedicated to serving exceptional, specialty coffee, overseeing the entire bean-to-cup process. Managing a network of cafes across Prague and Barcelona, they also offer a barista training center and other public workshops. Their marketing approach is friendly and bold. They don’t scoff at blends or shy away from wholesale, and their efforts have not gone unnoticed. Named one of the best coffee shops in Prague this year, the cafe has also gotten the thumbs up from Forbes, CzechCrunch, and World Coffee Portal. The shop design has also turned heads, earning accolades on platforms like DesignBoom. To sustain this success though, The Miners and others like it will have to continue innovating.

Galway’s Calendar, Denmark’s La Cabra, and London’s Vagabond are further examples of specialty coffee shops managing to stand out within a competitive market. These brands go above and beyond coffee, setting themselves apart through subscription services, podcasts, art exhibitions, sourdough workshops, and more. They continue to nurture the community centered around specialty coffee while simultaneously drawing in new audiences by diversifying their efforts. But as the market continues to evolve, newcomers and seasoned veterans alike will have to ask themselves – What makes us so special?


If the varied and vast world of specialty coffee has piqued your interest, stay tuned for our upcoming article where we'll provide further insights into the investments required to launch your very own coffee shop.

In the meantime, check out the The Miners Insider website, Telegram channel or Instagram for an in-depth look into the industry. Or if you’re already gunning for a new challenge, head on over to The Miners Insider webpage and fill out the contact form at the bottom to become the next franchisee of The Miners.