Coffee is a popular beverage enjoyed all over the world, with different flavors, styles, and origins that are incredibly diverse. However, where a particular type of coffee bean comes from can have a significant impact on quality, taste, and even the effects that harvesting has on communities. We are going to take a look at what single-origin coffee is and why it matters for your coffee.
Single-origin coffees have become increasingly popular for their quality and focus on their specific geographic regions. It is important to remember that single-origin coffee can refer to a single country or a location within that country, depending on where you purchase the coffee from.
Single-Origin Coffee is coffee beans that come from a single location compared to a blend that contains characteristics of different coffee beans.
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What Is Single Origin Coffee?
Single-origin coffee is any coffee that is grown and harvested within a specific geographic region. While the term indicates that the coffee comes from a single location, what that location means may vary. Some types of single-origin coffee are grown and harvested from a specific farm or community. Other varieties may come from multiple farms within a community or country.
The term single origin is sometimes applied to blends of coffee beans that originate from the same country. Popular countries and regions for single-origin coffee include Central America, Columbia, Brazil, and many others. So, while single-origin coffee can still come from a variety of places, emphasis and pride are placed on beans that are grown and harvested in a specific location and community.
There are also sub-groups within single-origin coffees. Estate coffee is a type of single-origin coffee referring to beans that are produced on one farm. The farms, or estates, can range from small sizes taking up a few acres to large farms taking up many square miles of land. Another sub-group is micro-lot coffee, which may include coffee harvested from specific fields within a farm or even specific days of harvest.
Does Single Origin Coffee Taste Better?
There is no easy way to explain the taste differences between different single-origin coffees and other blends. By nature, single-origin coffees come from specific regions. Therefore, the tasting notes and characteristics are specific to that bean and the location, climate, and season it comes from.
Single-origin coffee may not taste “better” than a mass-produced Columbian blend, but the experience will certainly be more unique. So, if you are seeking a more exclusive drinking experience, single-origin coffees may certainly taste better. Additionally, many flavor profiles still depend on the processing of the beans, with light, medium, and dark roasts all having their own flavor profiles.
Is Single Origin Coffee Higher Quality?
Due to the specific environments it is produced in, and the care put into growing, harvesting, and processing, single-origin coffee is usually very high-quality coffee. That quality does not mean that every coffee drinker will enjoy it or think it tastes good, but the objective quality of the product is high. There are organizations, standards, and publications that help review the quality of specific single-origin coffees, but how enjoyable the product is, relies on the consumers’ tastes and opinions.
Another part of the quality of single-origin coffee stems from the fair growing and business practices associated with the coffee. Due to the small growth and production scale, coffee farmers, roasters, and buyers are often in frequent, direct communication with one another, ensuring that high-quality coffee is delivered to coffee drinkers.
Also, due to the quality of the product and the relationship between farmers and buyers, single-origin coffee farmers are often compensated very well for their product. Lower stress and demand based on the quantity of production also lead to safer working environments and quality of life for coffee producers. In other words, single-origin coffee offers a high-quality product and high integrity within the systems of growth and production.
Does Single Origin Coffee Cost More?
Overall, single-origin coffees will cost more than more general coffee blends. However, since single-origin coffee contains a large variety, the cost also varies. Across the board with all coffees, the rarer a type of coffee is, the more expensive it will be. A micro-lot single-origin coffee, from a specific farm and time of year, will cost significantly more than a single-origin coffee from a broader region or country.
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How To Find Single Origin Coffees?
Due to the geographic, seasonal, and quantity limitations, availability can be scarce for certain types of single-origin coffee. However, broader-ranged single-origin varieties and blends can be made more readily available.
While general grocery stores may offer larger brands with single-origin coffees, a local coffee shop or café is one the best places to look for single-origin coffees. Coffee shops have access to distributors and direct coffee producers to bring exclusive beans and blends to local areas. It is also a great way to ask staff about the characteristics of different single-origin coffees they offer. Some shops and cafes offer single cups of specific coffees, so it may also be possible to try a single-origin coffee before purchasing a larger quantity of beans.
Purchasing coffee online is another easy way to access an immense variety of single-origin coffees. There are many small coffee producers that sell their products online, shipping unique single-origin coffees nationally and across the globe. Some companies are also offering coffee subscriptions, allowing customers to try a new coffee, including single origin, with recurring weekly, monthly, or annual fees.
How to Choose the Right Single Origin Coffee?
The easiest way to find the right single-origin coffee is to start trying them! Since individuality is a key concept of single-origin coffee, each one will have distinct tastes and characteristics. Many coffee roasters and brands offer tasting notes on their packaging to help guide consumers to a flavor they will most enjoy. However, drinking coffee is an individual experience, so it is up to each person to taste and find the right coffee for them.
If someone finds a particular coffee they like, single origin or broader blend, it is helpful to note the region that coffee is from. Even though each coffee is unique, geographic regions often share some similarities between their coffee varieties. So, if someone finds a Peruvian single-origin coffee they love, the odds are good that they will enjoy other Peruvian varietals and blends.
5 Popular Single Origin Coffees
- ADENISA – San Pedro La Laguna, Guatemala
- Finca El Puente – Marcala, Honduras
- Aged Sumatra
- Sterling, VALLE INCA YANATILE RESERVE
- Bali Kintamani
The Final Sip
So what is single-origin coffee? Single-origin coffee is any coffee that comes from a specific geographic region, and possibly from a specific season. It offers coffee drinkers a unique tasting experience and high-quality product while promoting equity among the farmers, roasters, and buyers that make each cup of coffee possible. Most importantly, while learning about, finding, and tasting single-origin coffees, it is important to savor each sip!