The Difference Between The Large Coffee Chains & Specialty Coffee Shops

The Difference Between The Large Coffee Chains & Specialty Coffee Shops - The Wood Roaster

Coffee beans

"Image By David Dewitt"

many people, the number one elixir that gives them life is coffee. Some people can't go through their day without having at least a cup of great coffee. In the past years, coffee has been elevated to higher consumption standards, and it comes in waves.

The first wave of coffee is low-quality, mass-produced coffee. These are usual instant coffee jars that you can find in homes. The next wave of coffee is coffee companies that revolutionised coffee culture. Starbucks and Gloria Jeans are popular second wave coffee shops that paved the way for cafe culture.

There is one particular wave that is gaining momentum and is slowly taking over the coffee world. Third wave coffee or specialty coffee is the largest coffee-sub industry. Unlike in the first and second wave of coffee, roasters and baristas in this wave focus on techniques, roast profiles, tastings, process, and origins to ensure quality coffee cups.

Those familiar with these coffee cultures are curious if the second wave is better than the third, and vice versa. They are also interested in the things that make them different from each other. These are general questions targeted to contrast Starbucks and specialty coffee.

In this article, we'll guide coffee-curious people like you to understand the difference between Starbucks and specialty coffee. Have a mug of black coffee ready and take the first sip!


What is specialty coffee anyway?

Before we dive into understanding their differences, you first need to know what specialty coffee is. Specialty coffee is a movement where farmers, producers, roasters, baristas and consumers approach coffee differently. In this wave, each coffee chain sector practises techniques and processes and appreciates coffee all while having incredibly high standards.

There are certain mindsets and attitudes that you need to have when you approach specialty coffee. This is because, in third wave coffee, you understand the story and process behind every cup.


So, what's the difference between Starbucks and specialty coffee?

The most significant difference between Starbucks and specialty coffee is quality. Quality is the most crucial element of third wave coffee that coffee shops like Starbucks often overlook.

The specialty coffee industry prioritises connections and relationships. This coffee relationship begins in origin, where roasters form a relationship with the farmers and producers to hand-pick the best quality of coffee cherries to harvest. After that, the green beans are then sent to the roaster to create a roast profile that will give justice to the coffee based on the farmer's farming process.

Once profiling is finished, the coffee will then be handed off to the barista who will translate these unique flavours through different brewing methods and following precise techniques. And finally, this excellent cup of coffee will then be enjoyed by a coffee lover like you.

Another reason third wave coffee has better quality is that it passes through numerous tastings and gradings before they are labelled "specialty." As mentioned earlier, specialty coffee is hand-picked, which means only the best coffee cherries are being chosen for processing.

Starbucks, although they produce delicious and sweet beverages for consumers, they don't have the same coffee standards as specialty coffee. Aside from their coffee not being traceable, they also serve coffee weeks- or months-old coffee far from its peak. Because of this, quality is compromised, and you're not getting a full coffee experience.



Coffee relies on your preference. But if you seek great-quality and delicious coffee, third wave coffee is the wave you want to ride. Besides it being high-quality, you are taking with you the story of its origin and the people behind the cup you are about to enjoy. If you're one of the many people curious about coffee, dive into specialty coffee, and you'll understand what proper coffee is.

Are you looking for specialty coffee to enjoy? The Wood Roaster is a specialty coffee roaster in Marrickville, Sydney. We are a team of coffee professionals who provide single-origin specialty coffee, blends, Nespresso compatible pods and even coffee gear. Start having better coffee and check out our coffees today!


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