Coffee Facts

The Ultimate Guide to Single Origin Coffee

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Single-origin coffee is a big name in the coffee community today, but what exactly is it? If you’re a fan of coffee, especially black coffee, then you’re bound to have heard of single-origin coffee.

Read on to find out more about single-origin coffee, and why you need to add it to your must-try list. 

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At a Glance: Best Single Origin Coffee

single-origin coffee

Quick Summary: Best Single Origin Coffee

Screen 18 Kenyan AA Single Origin Premium Crafted Coffee, Whole Bean, Medium/Dark Roast, 1 LB Bag Kenyan AA Coffee Beans Check on Amazon →
Fresh Roasted Coffee LLC, Ethiopian Yirgacheffe Kochere Coffee, Medium Roast, Whole Bean, 2 Pound Bag Yirgacheffe Beans from Ethiopia Check on Amazon →
Hualalai Estate PEABERRY- 100% PREMIUM Kona Coffee - Medium-Dark Roast 7oz (Ground) Hualalai Estate Peaberry Coffee Check on Amazon →
 

What It Is

Single-origin coffee is named so because it is coffee that is grown in a single geographical location, a single location is usually a single farm or plantation.

Furthermore, since the coffee is grown in a designated, limited area, the unique characteristics in the beans can be preserved and recreated. However, there is still much confusion among coffee drinkers as to what the “wow-factor” behind single-origin coffee is.

Why People Love It

There are several reasons to love single-origin coffee. Here’s a breakdown of just a few of the reasons why it’s so popular in the coffee community today.

Flavor

Due to their authenticity, single-origin coffees have grown in popularity with their distinguishable taste. Some independent coffee shops usually brew with single-origin coffees, as a coffee brands’ unique flavor.

Many coffee lovers prefer single-origin coffee because it normally has a specific taste or flavor overtones that are specific to that area. This is due to the fact that soil quality, altitude, shade, and overall climate can greatly influence the overall flavor. 

Traceability

For many coffee lovers, the ability to trace your coffee is an important characteristic. Knowing not only about the traits of the coffee, but the origin of it will speak a lot about the quality of the coffee itself.

Single-origin coffee has such a high reputation due to its ability to be completely retraced back to where it was grown. This further solidifies a coffee farm or brands’ reputation because it can be held accountable due to its ability to be traced. 

Quality

The most prominent factor of single-origin coffee is its quality. Because it is cultivated and roasted in small amounts, farmers and roasters are able to have a closer eye on the cultivation and roasting process, sorting out bad beans and ensuring that each batch is as flavorful as possible. 

Single Origin vs. Blends

The two main processing and packaging for coffee: single-origin and blended coffee.

Though they’re both very common, there are many differences between these two kinds of coffees. The primary factors that differentiate them from one another are price, availability, quality, and overall flavor. 

Price

Often the price of single-origin coffee tends to be more expensive than regular blends due to their more complex, well-monitored growing conditions. Farmers pay extra attention to the quality of single-origin beans because single-origin brands have a higher reputation to maintain. 

For many blends, farmers select beans from a variety of different locations to create one blend. As a result, the flavor of blends tends to not be as specific as single-origin coffees are.

Since blends collect beans from several different areas, there’s often little attention to minute details like growing conditions, filtering the beans for deformities, and encouragement of flavor highlighting that is overlooked with the processing of blended coffee.

Availability

Harvesting times can already complicate the availability of certain coffee beans, but single-origin coffees tend to be even more complicated to access. This is because many single-origin coffees tend to be seasonal, so they may only be available during certain months of the year. As a result, these roasts are also produced in a smaller amount in comparison to larger blends and roasts. 

For blends, the availability is pretty much constant depending on the brand and the certain blend. Since farmers combine the beans from a variety of sources, they are more available and easier to purchase. They are also made in larger amounts since the beans are sourced from a variety of places. 

Quality

However, the primary factor that sets single-origin coffee apart from other coffee is its quality. As a result of the beans being so carefully cultivated, the quality of single-origin coffee tends to be higher than regular blends.

Furthermore, the quality of single-origin coffees is important because it will determine the overall roast and flavor of the coffee. Single-origin coffees are a favorite of those who enjoy a cup of black drip coffee. 

Likewise, blends can easily slip into the low-quality category due to their combination of a variety of different beans. Since there are many different kinds of coffee beans involved in making a blend, there is a higher risk for lower-quality, deformed beans to accidentally slip into a blend.

However, this is still fairly uncommon and hopefully shouldn’t affect the overall flavor of the beans. Many coffee drinkers who enjoy putting milk and flavoring into their coffee will become quick fans of coffee blends. 

Flavor

Perhaps the most important difference between single-origin coffee and regular blends is the taste. Since single-serve coffees are very uniform in their cultivation, make-up, and packaging, its easy to taste distinguished flavors in single-origin roasts. This is why lovers of good ‘ole black coffee prefer single-origin because certain flavors and their overtones are already strongly accentuated. 

On the other hand, coffee blends don’t really focus on pinpointing a certain flavor or flavor combination, but they instead focus on a melody of flavors. Usually, coffee blends will provide a delicious balance of flavor, body, and acidity. Due to this, many coffee lovers prefer to enjoy their blended coffee with milk and extra flavoring. 

The Three Single-Origin Definitions

Since it can already be somewhat difficult to strictly and completely define what single-origin coffee is, it’s important to at least distinguish between the different definitions out there. 

When coffee lovers refer to single-origin coffee, they’re referring coffee that’s grown under three different circumstances. Since the word “origin” can imply several different locations at various sizes and contributing farms, its important to recognize what the top three “origins” that single-origin coffee can come from.

Most single-origin coffees normally come from one of three locations: coffee from a single farm, coffee from multiple farms in close proximity to one another, and coffee from multiple farms in the same country.

Coffee From One Farm/Plantation

Some coffee critics consider single-origin coffee to be from one specific location. One of the most authentic and rarest kinds of single-origin coffee, many coffee fanatics consider it some of the highest-quality coffee you can find.

Some snobbier coffee connoisseurs may consider this kind of single-origin coffee to be the only kind of single-origin coffee due to its exclusivity to one specific location/farm.

Since it’s so exclusive to only one specific location, the demand and price for this kind of single-origin coffee can be pretty pricey. Most of them can range from a few dollars per pound to hundreds of dollars per pound. 

Coffee From Multiple Farms

The most commonly recognized definition of single-origin coffee, this kind of single-origin coffee includes a handful of farms that produce the same coffee in the same area. This area can include anywhere from a couple of acres, to several square miles. 

This version of single-origin coffee is so popular because it’s easier for farmers and roasters to accomplish since it involves more than one specific farm. Multiple farms allow for more crops to be produced, but they also allow for higher exports and greater profit for the farmers. 

However, the main downside to this is a slight loss of the exclusivity and authenticity that smaller farms can provide. Likewise, with multiple farms contributing beans from the same area, it leaves room for the inconsistency of growing conditions and flavor overtones. Though there is a possibility of this happening, the risk of error is still somewhat small. 

Coffee From One Country

This is the most free-range definition of single-origin coffee, this includes coffee beans from any farm(s) as long as its in the same country. For those looking to try specific roasts from specific countries, there are several coffee brands that only source their beans from one part of the world. Some of these larger single-source coffees come from countries like Brazil, Kenya, Guatemala, Ethiopia, and Peru. 

Single-Origin and Specialty Coffee

There are many versions of high-quality coffee in the world, but the most widely recognized is specialty coffee. Often, many specialty coffees tend to also be single-origin coffee since the different flavors created in single-origin coffees are so rare and exclusive to a certain region. 

According to The Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA), coffee that is considered to be specialty must have a score of 80 points or above on the 100 point coffee review grading scale. Critics will grade coffee by its bean size, mutations, deformities, growing conditions, etc. 

In order to be passed as specialty coffee, the beans must have no primary defects with a limit of 0-3 full defects, a maximum of 5% above or 5% below the required screen size. Furthermore, they must also exhibit a distinct quality in one or more of the following categories: flavor, aroma, body, and acidity. Not only that, but the cup of coffee must be free of faults, and must also maintain a moisture content between 9-12%.

Due to farmers’ close surveillance over single-origin beans, they can easily monitor the overall quality of the coffee. This is often what makes much single-origin coffee specialty coffee as well. 

Single-Origin and The Third Wave

Over the last several years, many didn’t consider single-origin coffee as highly as they do today. The spike in recognition and specialization of single-origin coffee is primarily due to the Third Wave of Coffee

In short, the Third Wave of Coffee is a movement that has occurred over the last several decades. Many people have enjoyed coffee over the last hundreds of years. However, during this time many considered coffee to only be just coffee–with no special variations according to geographical region, processing methods, roasting methods, etc.

As time has progressed, there has been a cultural shift for the appreciation of coffee cultivation. The Third Wave movement is one that’s focused on the enjoyment and appreciation of authentic, high-quality coffee. With the Third Wave, single-origin coffee gained momentum because of its detail to the intricate cultivation of the beans. This is how single-origin coffees began to make their way into mainstream coffee culture. 

Best Single Origin Coffee

Single-origin coffee is able to highlight specific flavors very well. Therefore, it’s important to know what your choices of flavors are when it comes to experimenting with single-origin coffee. Here’s just a handful of some of the most delicious coffees that you can purchase on the market today. Workers bag these beans from one growing area, each with their own flavor overtones.

When it comes to brewing these coffees, our tip is to brew them using the pour-over method. The pour-over process is a slower-paced, manual brewing process. As a result, this makes it the best method to experience the full flavor of the beans. 

Kenyan AA Coffee Beans

Kenyan coffee is known for its distinct growing regions that develop their own flavor profiles. Normally, they are well-balanced, medium-bodied, and possesses a strong, crisp taste. Most Kenyan roasts are very savory and zesty, normally with sweet, floral overtones.

One sample of Kenyan coffee that’s a good starter to try is Screen 18 Kenyan AA Coffee Beans. Screen 18 grows their beans at an elevation of 6,000 feet or higher, making sure they’re healthy and flavorful. Furthermore, they also roast them in small batches in order to preserve the flavor and freshness of the beans.

Yirgacheffe Beans from Ethiopia

These Ethiopian beans are lighter in body, and typically have many earthy tones Yirgacheffe beans are distinct in earthy flavors with cinnamon, fruity overtones. Roasters usually roast these beans to a medium consistency, and they are well-balanced in body and acidity.

Fresh Roasted Coffee’s Ethiopian Yirgacheffe Blend is just one blend that best exhibits these characteristics. This light-medium roast has a citrus lemony finish with a hint of tangerine that makes it refreshing to sip on. 

On Sale

Hualalai Estate Peaberry Coffee 

Peaberry coffee beans by themselves are some of the most flavorful coffee beans in the world. Roasters can roast their beans easier and more consistently. As a result, this brings out the most robust flavors of the beans.

Since its also a specialty coffee, peaberry coffee is even more refined. This is because workers sort through the beans, making sure each one is suitable to roast. A great brand to experience this kind of coffee is Hualalai Estate Peaberry Coffee. It’s silky and smooth in body, with hints of delicious spices, and will leave you craving more. 

Final Thoughts

There you have it! Everything you need to know about single-origin coffee, and why its an important factor in the coffee community today. Single-origin coffee has a great reputation for flavor and quality among the many coffee lovers across the world. Due to this, it is essential to try if you’re looking to expand your coffee palate. 

Happy caffeinating! 

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