Single-Origin Coffee Beans
Single-origin coffee beans are sourced from a particular region, such as Ethiopia or Guatemala, and are not mixed with beans from other regions. The definition of single-origin coffee is often narrowed further to mean coffee beans harvested from one variety of coffee plant, on a single farm or collection of farms, in a particular region. Mixing different types of coffee beans or beans from different regions and different farms within a region creates a coffee blend rather than a single-origin coffee.
Here we answer a few basic questions about single-origin coffee beans to help you appreciate the experience offered by single-origin coffees. There are many differences and nuances in definition and taste between single-origin coffee and blended coffee. As coffee aficionados, we sample coffee far and wide, and are often pleasantly surprised by the special coffee experience provided by different single-origin coffees. We want to help everyone enjoy the rich diversity and range of coffee flavors available!
What Does Single-Origin Mean?
As we mentioned, single-origin coffee is made from beans harvested solely from one variety of coffee plant grown in one region of the world and not mixed with other bean varieties or coffee beans harvested elsewhere. Coffee connoisseurs can often detect subtle differences among single-origin coffee beans, even going so far as to pinpoint the exact farm or plantation where the beans were harvested. Often, a selection of beans harvested from several farms across a large region are mixed together — this coffee would not normally be labeled and marketed as a single-origin coffee but instead would be referred to as a coffee blend.
Where Does Single-Origin Coffee Come From?
Certain regions of the world are famous for their coffee beans — think of Arabica beans originating in Ethiopia, or Robusta beans first discovered growing in the Congo and West Africa. Single-origin Costa Rican, Brazilian or Ethiopian Arabica coffee beans are justifiably renowned for their ability to preserve unique locational flavor notes, and have generally well-ordered aromatic profiles. Colombian coffee beans produce many fine single-origin specialty coffees from Arabica coffee bean plants grown in the tropical climate of South America. Guatemala produces excellent Central American single-origin coffees, again using Arabica beans grown on licensed small farms or individual farm cooperatives. Essentially, single-origin coffees come from many regions of the world and earn the term single-origin if they are not blended or mixed with beans produced elsewhere.
Is Single-Origin Coffee Better Than Blended Coffee?
Single-origin coffees display unique taste and flavor depending on the plant variety harvested and certain growing conditions, such as climate, soil, light and terrain variations. Single-origin coffees are often readily identifiable by their subtle flavors. For example, Kenyan single-origin coffees tend to taste fruity, whereas Ethiopian single-origin coffees lean more toward floral and richer flavors. Same bean, different locations. Single-origin coffee is considered a more pure form of coffee in that it's possible to pinpoint the nuances of coffee from that particular region without interference from another coffee's presence in the cup.
On the other hand, blended coffees combine multiple coffees together so it's hard to notice particular nuances of one coffee’s region, farm, or varietal. Roasters blend coffees together to offset or balance various qualities, resulting in a smoother, more consistent, and more versatile or forgiving blended coffee than a single-origin.
The roasting, grinding and brewing processes strongly influence the special flavors of both coffee types. We don't have an answer about which coffee is better - it's truly a matter of personal taste.