What Is Single-Origin Coffee?

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There may have been a time when you were browsing bags of coffee to purchase and came across coffee that was “single-origin.” What does single-origin mean? How does that factor impact the taste of your coffee? Here is everything you need to know about single-origin coffee and the difference between single-origin and regular blends.

What Does Single-Origin Coffee Mean?

Calling coffee “single-origin” simply means that a single region, crop, or producer in a country is the sole source of that coffee. Many single-origin coffees are named after the coffee’s producer, whether it’s a farm or a community. That makes it easy to determine at first glance whether the bag of coffee you’re buying is single-origin.

If coffee isn’t single-origin, it’s labeled and known as a blend. Blends are from more than one source; for example, an Ethiopian blend may contain coffee beans from several different regions in Ethiopia rather than just one. Most of the coffee that cafes and commercial coffee producers offer are blends because single-origin coffee is available only at specific times of the year. The rarity is due to the fact that coffee bean harvests happen only one time each year, and single-origin coffee is only sold once it reaches its peak.

The single source of single-origin coffee doesn’t mean that it is necessarily better than blends or other common types of coffee. It simply means that you have the ability to support a specific community if you choose to do so, or if you really fall in love with a specific type of bean, you are able to purchase just that bean. Keep in mind that single-origin coffees are sold at a higher price point because they can be more challenging to find.

Crash Course: Single-Origin Coffee 101

Now that you understand what single-origin coffee is, what’s the appeal to it, besides its rarity? There are a couple of reasons why many coffee lovers chase after single-origin coffee:

  • It’s only available at certain times of the year, and it all depends on the harvest season. Spare availability means you can get one kind of single-origin coffee in the spring and get another kind of single-origin coffee over the summer when each is at its peak.

  • Single-origin coffee’s one-of-a-kind geographical locations and conditions mean that its characteristics are regarded as unique and exotic.

  • Single-origin coffee offers taste at its purest and most exclusive. Blends tend to be balanced and mellow; single-origin has enhanced flavors and aroma.

  • If coffee drinkers are seeking a unique experience from their coffee, single-origin is an excellent option. Not only will you get different kinds throughout the year, but no two batches are alike, even from the same source.

There are reasons why people may favor coffee blends instead:

  • Blends are the most common type of coffee available and offer a unique flavor that features the combined features of many sources.

  • Blends provide a very consistent taste. They’re more intended for commercial sale because they’re produced and mixed in large batches. If you are set in your ways and like your coffee consistent, blends are for you.

  • Blends do tend to be more well-balanced. They will offer a more gentle, palatable taste. There’s a reason why beans are mixed together, as the blend will create a harmonious taste that offers more than one bean can alone. It creates a different type of flavor and aroma that you won’t find with single-origin coffee.

  • If you enjoy a well-rounded cup of coffee and are looking for something consistent, go with a blend.

Single Origin Vs. Coffee Blends

There are some pretty significant differences between single-origin coffee and blends. The main factors that set single-origin coffee apart from blends include flavor profile, purity, and consistency.

Flavor Profile

Single-origin coffee offers an unaltered, original flavor profile. The taste is more robust and bold, while you will get a more balanced cup from blended beans. Blends tend to feature beans that will complement each other. Single-origin brings all the focus onto one single type of bean, which will have a distinct flavor based on processing and growing conditions.

The flavor of your single-origin coffee can be influenced by:

  • Soil
  • Climate
  • Shade
  • Altitude
  • Botanical variety

Purity

Single-origin coffees are often pursued for their high quality and purity. The single source tends to be regarded as more “pure.” Its aroma and taste also will tell a story about the source of the coffee and how it originated. Many people who drink single-origin coffee consume it black without any additives such as sugar or milk.

Consistency

Coffee blends are well-known for their consistency. They’re made in big batches that have a more mellow, less pronounced flavor because multiple beans are combined at one time.

When you buy a pack of multiple single-origin coffee bags, you may be pleasantly surprised to find that even the consistency of that pack can differ. Single-origin coffees tend to vary slightly based on many different conditions. This isn’t necessarily good or bad–just know you will get a new experience each time you taste single-origin coffee.

One-of-a-Kind Single-Origin Coffee

Single-origin coffee is unique and exotic because it is sourced from just one location and is only available at certain times of the year. Single-origin is perfect for you if you want to get a unique experience from your coffee every time, enjoy an enhanced flavor, and want pure coffee. However, single-origin coffee has something to offer for everyone. Give it a try at least once to see if you like it better than your regular blend.

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