If you have ever frequented an artisan coffee shop, the chances are that you have come across the term "Single Origin". A term commonly tossed between coffee connoisseurs, but one that may not be immediately obvious to regular coffee drinkers.
What is Single Origin Coffee?
Single origin coffee can be defined as coffee prepared with coffee beans from a single producer, region, place, or country. The most significant draw of single origin coffee is its traceability and flavour.
With single origin coffee, consumers can know exactly where the coffee is from and what flavours are associated with coffee from that origin. Coffee from different countries have different generic flavour profiles and characteristics due to growing methods, processing and climate.
What Makes Single Origin Special?
Clarity and flavour density are the key determinants that make single origin coffee so appealing. Some coffee lovers argue that single-origin coffee is the only way to fully appreciate the flavours of coffee.
Single Origins Have A Distinct Flavour
Due to their unique flavour profiles, single-origin coffees have become a favourite in independent coffee shops. Single origin brews often have a subtle flavour with fine nuances. The climate, shade, altitude, and soil quality of the particular source region determines the flavour overtones in each coffee bean.
Traceability Is Important For Coffee Lovers
Traceability is also of great importance to coffee lovers. Coffee drinkers should be able to distinguish coffee by not only its traits, but also by the origin. Traceability further solidifies the reputation of the specific coffee farm, brand, or producer.
Single Origin Coffee Is Quality And Flavour Assured
Lastly, quality is the most critical factor. Since single-origins are often cultivated and processed in small amounts, farmers can pay much closer attention to their crops than commercial farmers. They have the ability to inspect each batch for quality and flavour.
When Coffee Was Just Coffee!
Just a few decades ago, single-origin coffee existed only in coffee shops. Today, single origin coffee enjoys global recognition thanks to the Third Wave Coffee Movement.
A movement that started when many people enjoyed coffee as 'just coffee' with no attention to details, such as roasting methods, processing methods, and geographical limitations. The movement geared a cultural shift to appreciate the diversity of coffee cultivation.
It was then that single-origin coffee gained in popularity and momentum as people started to recognise its high-quality and intricate flavours.
What is Blended Coffee?
Coffee blends are a mixture of coffee obtained by roasting and mixing coffee beans from multiple regions. Coffee blends take advantage of individual flavours found in different coffee beans to create a complementing profile of notes and flavours.
Though blending requires complex processes to create a perfect balance, coffee blends can offer consistent flavour as well as flavour profiles that cannot be achieved with a single origin coffee.
As single coffee beans cannot achieve the qualities of blended coffees, blends provide coffee drinks with the complexity many have come to enjoy.
How Does Blended Coffee Differ from Single Origin Coffee?
The main differences between single origin and blended coffees are traceability, availability and flavour.
Single-origin coffees are more traceable, and farmers are therefore more accountable for the quality of their crop. This traceability also brings a responsibility to maintain the reputation of the origin.
Another difference is availability. Blends are available all year round while the availability of single origins is affected by geographical limitation and harvesting seasons.
Lastly and most notably are flavour and taste. Single-origin coffee has a distinct taste with nuanced flavour notes whilst blends focus on creating a symphony of complex flavours to form a rounded cup.