To start off with and to clarify, the opposite of specialty coffee is commercial coffee. From the coffee buyers viewpoint, the most immediately noticeable difference between commercial and specialty coffees is packaging, Here are some of the other differences between the two.
Generally speaking, Commercial coffee comes in little bottles of instant or is already ground and packed in a tin or a collapsed, plastic-encased brick whereas Specialty coffee comes as whole beans or ground, either in small bags or in bulk.
Commercial coffee also is typically roasted and packed in very large industrial sized plants, under nationally advertised brand names. Specialty coffee is usually roasted in small factories or stores, as is the case with Calusa Coffee Roasters, using traditional methods and technology.
Specialty coffees, offer considerably more choice than commercial coffees. You can buy coffee by the place where the bean originated ( for example, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, Brazil), by roast (Dark, Light, Etc.), or by blend designed for the time of day, price, or flavor.
Commercial coffees offer only a very limited selection of blend and roast, and little possibility of buying straight, unblended coffees whereby specialty coffee offers many of these options.
There is trend now to for consumers to want to buy items that are locally done or created. This way they support the local community and get items that are much more fresh then those prepared commercially.
One can see this in the restaurants where farm to table has caught on in most areas. This also applies to the coffee one buys where locally roasted ( roasted that day or week) specialty coffees just cannot be beat for both freshness and taste. It is for this reason among others that fewer and fewer consumers are buying commercial coffees and going to their local coffee roaster