Single Origin Coffee: What is Single Origin Coffee?
If you go to any coffee shop, or espresso bar around the world, you've probably heard the term, or seen the sign for single origin coffees brewing throughout the industry. Today we're going to break down this type of specialty coffee, giving you the details on what these blends are all about, to the point that you could have people thinking you've grown some yourself.
We're also going to get into the reasons why roasting single origin coffee is becoming all the rage, featured at just about every neighborhood espresso bar. Today, where everything is personalized, single origin coffees are replacing the average coffee blend for their ability to cater to the specific taste buds of different individuals. If you're like us, you know that a good cup of coffee is more than just the coffee's flavor profile, and the joy you have drinking it, but the specific story behind every bean involved in the process.Best Single Origin Coffee →
What is Single Origin Coffee?
Single origin coffee is a coffee that was grown within a specific geographic location. While coffee blends can comprise of various beans from all around the globe, a single origin coffee consists of a bean hailing from one location. For our dog lovers out there, just think of it this way; if a coffee blend is to a mutt, then a single origin is to a pure bred!
Straight To The Source
Simply put, Single origins are coffee beans all originating from the same individual country, using the same crops, producer or region. You may have also heard the term single farm coffee. This goes a step further to indicate that the coffee beans were produced from the same mill or farmland. And then, you have single estate coffee, meaning all the coffee beans belong to the very same lot.
So, what makes a coffee single origin is simply knowing that each bean is traced back to the same unique setting. This has an effect not only on quality of the beans, but to connect the farmers, roasters, and consumers all to the same individual source.
This means that technically, single origin coffee are actually not blends, but having very specific and unique characteristics that derive from the special quality of the bean's initial processing. But why should anyone prefer a single origin, and why is this all the rage at coffee shops around the world?
Why Single Origin?
Today's coffee roasters understand that a good coffee blend is one with not only a quality bean and delicious flavors, but one with an origin story people can feel good about. The industry has changed from simply offering a menu of high quality blends, sourced from exotic regions. The coffee climate is now moving towards direction where each café does their part to procure bags of beans which benefit not only the taste of the customers, but the lives of the farmers.
Whether they're Ethiopian, Columbian, or Asian, the deeper your understanding of the coffee beans themselves can actually make the brew that much more enjoyable! The more you come to appreciate a specific roast, you may find yourself picking up on new flavor notes you didn't know existed.
From Niche to Mainstream
The surge of single origin coffee has progressed to where just about every single company offers a different variety of single origins on their menu. This began when cafes wanted to expand the different brew methods, and try different blends to offer newer innovative experiences for coffee enthusiasts. Along the way, roasters serving single origins became more popular than any other blend abatable. Even without the knowledge behind the beans being roasted, cafes saw many customers naturally flocking towards coffees from single origin and single farms.
When you combine the unique taste of a single origin blend with the transparency related to the overall production process, it makes each cup that much more enjoyable. We are not as limited today; most people are free to grab coffee on just about any corner of any block. But the popularity of single origin coffees shows that people generally want more than just a cheap, tasteless coffee with mounds of sugar inside. It's clear that coffee drinkers are now shopping around for the specific roasters that offer a good blend, that comes from a good source.
Producing Single Origins
Along with the rise of specialty coffee shops brewing up single origins, this is changing many things in the industry, straight down to the region of the site where the coffee is sourced from, and how each variety is being grown.
Because of the high demand for single origin coffee, there has been one example after another where farmers are experimenting with new innovations to improve coffee quality in one form or another. Each year, new and unique beans are being tested, and the origin countries are trying different growing techniques round the clock to ensure new specialty coffee to be delivered to coffee roasters in every different country.
Because each single origin is produced as a very specific coffee, as opposed to your average coffee blends, this means that every little part of the processing phase will have an impact in the flavors and overall quality characteristics of the coffee you experience when you sip it.
The rise of experimentation with single origins and the process to harvest them has largely evolved since the burgeoning of direct trade in the coffee industry. This direct trade has opened up the lines of communication between coffee roasters, and the producers themselves, fostering an open dialogue for the evolution of coffee production.
So, now that coffee roasters are often able to inform producers on all the latest trends, from a specialty coffee's flavors, all the way to which milk would combine best with which espresso roast, this has given specialty, single origin growers new insight for what to offer to their loyal customers and to hit all the right notes.
A large part of direct trade is facilitated through the advent of origin visits. This allows roasters and green bean buyers a whole wealth of information at their disposal, which they can then bridge towards the consumers who purchase the coffee from them. These visits have quite the infamous reputation, as allegedly, growers and buyers stand together sampling up to one hundred coffees a day and scoring them, collecting detailed and rich analysis for every single one.
Considering the amount of work and detail which goes into every individual single origin, as opposed to the commonplace blends found just about anywhere, customers can have a greater appreciation for the unique, personalized coffee they are offered.
The impacts here go even further towards the farmer. Being able to meet the roasters directly, this connects the coffee producers to the final product: the empty cup and the look of satisfaction on the customer's face. Moreover, this has changed the industry overall, to encourage fairer prices overall for the coffee.
Can You Say 'Quality'?
If you think all coffee tastes the same, you've likely never had a single origin coffee. A big part of single origin coffee, and what pushes it forward is the continuing demand for excellent, unique tasting coffee blends. When it comes to scoring coffee quality, any different index round the world will often place single origins, single farms or single estates as the highest.
A large part of this comes down to the way the coffee itself is produced. Most indexes such as Cup of Excellence, prioritize and take great consideration with regards to how the coffee is produced, and the level of care farmers give towards the beans. While the taste of different coffee's is highly subjective, it goes without saying that the superior care in its processing can be why the majority of indexes all tend to place single origins higher than any other coffee blend.
Farm to Table
The influence of direct trade for single origins has largely been shown with respect to the farmers producing the coffee. Knowing that customers are recognizing and truly seeking out their specific coffee's, farmers have began to take more pride than ever before in producing the best cup of coffee possible. Moreover, the newfound interest and appreciation from consumers to the initial process stage has led to farmers becoming more recognized for the love and care they put into their crops.
One farmer, Ceser Magana from El Salvador, has put it this way: "If they understand the quality of the product, it guarantees sustainability for everyone making extra efforts in every step of the coffee-making chain. The barista or roaster should be able to give first hand information about the farmer and the farm; to me, that’s beautiful and that’s why single origin matters."
This shows how single origin coffee has allowed consumers to effect the source from where their coffee is being grown, increasing the transparency throughout the entire coffee business.
The Future of Single Origin
Today, customers are flocking to specialty roasters who offer single origins from all different regions, including countries like Tanzania, Uganda, and of course Ethiopian varietals. This has allowed for customers to become more educated in the different tastes associated with each region, and to be in search of more high quality coffees they can enjoy. And while single origin has awoken new appreciation for the unique quality of the coffee, the means of production, and the recognition for farmers becomes an even more prominent issue amongst consumers.
While single origins have become increasingly popular, now there is even greater demand for single farm, or estate coffee. This allows customers an even more direct connection towards the exact site where the coffee is being grown, and not only offers a more specific type of coffee drinking experience, but an even more special, intimate connection to the land where production phase takes place.
With tons of different farms occurring in different regions all across the world, single estate coffees will offer consumers an unprecedented level of experience with each unique cup they enjoy.
At Black Ink Coffee, we are always up to experiment with new flavors and new brews. Now that single origins are available, you don't need to travel to an exotic location to get the unique types of coffee you seek. While some of you may be happy with your average, well known blends, single origins are a great way to spice things up. Its the kind of thing you won't know you're missing out on until you actually try it!
More than that, single origin coffee brings you right to the source of the coffee production, and allows you to taste all the special care that goes into every perfect sip.Best Single Origin Coffee →