Have you ever looked at a café menu and wondered what the deal is with single origin coffee? There’s a reason why single origin coffee is the epitome of our obsessed coffee culture, and we’re here to explain why.
As its name suggests, single origin coffee is coffee that is grown in a single location or farm. What this means is that everything from the climate, the soil quality to the harvesting process produces unique flavours to the growing region. As such, single origins are known for its distinct flavours and loved by coffee connoisseurs around the world.
Single origin coffees highlight the specific flavours that are unique to the farms or origins. It can take years to explore the diversity of flavours that are on offer by region. That being said, we can take a look at some of the well-known flavours by country.
- Ethiopia – known for slight acidic, gentle fruity flavours with a strong blueberry aroma.
- Peru – mild fruity flavour, intense floral aromas and hibiscus-like acidity.
- Indonesia – earthy flavours, aroma of pines and sweetness like molasses.
- Guatemala – apple-like acidity, chocolate flavour and a satisfying honey sweetness.
Single origins are known to be of higher quality than blends due to the way the coffee beans are cultivated, as well as its traceability to a specific farm.
These beans are harvested and process with immense care, as the reputation of that single origin is directly traced back to where it has harvested and grown. This means that the reputation of the coffee farm is particularly important, and in the same way farms can be held accountable for poor quality.
High quality single origin coffees have more intense flavours and can be appreciated in its simplest form – a cup of good black drip coffee.
With higher quality, it’s not surprising that single origin coffees often cost more than the average coffee blends. This is because they are so carefully harvested and have more challenging growing conditions. Single origin coffees adhere to a higher standard of care due to the reputation they need to uphold. They may also be available seasonally as opposed to all year round, and its exclusivity may drive the prices up.
Single origins vs blends
Coffee blends uses two or more different types of beans that complement each other. The idea behind blends is to balance out the flavours, creating a smoother or more complex flavour profile that is a little ‘safer’ for the palate. Blends tend to have ‘mass appeal’ because of their focus on creating a mixture of many general flavours. For example, specialty roasters can blend an exotic, tangy coffee with a richer-noted bean.
In contrast, single origins tend to have complete diversity of flavours depending on the region. For people who are new to specialty coffee, it can be surprising to learn that neighbouring countries, and even neighbouring farms can produce dramatically different coffee.
So what does this mean for you as a coffee drinker? If you are the type of person who enjoys milk and flavouring in your coffee, then you may find yourself preferring blended coffee.
Conversely, if you are someone you enjoy straight black coffee in order to appreciate the distinct flavours and aroma of the coffee, then single origins may be just the thing for you. Single origin coffee takes its consumers down a unique, sensory experience and depending on the brewing method – create a different taste each cup!
How to brew single origin coffee
There are many ways to brew single origin coffee, depending on the type of beans you buy to the equipment you have at home.
Do you prefer filter coffee? That is, to brew your coffee manually using one of the many coffee-making equipment available. Whether you have an Aeropress, Chemex, Pourover etc., filter brewing is a perfect way to extract the unique, delicate flavours of a single origin coffee. You will be able to experience the spectrum of flavours and taste the quality, whether it is a Colombian or an Ethiopian coffee – whatever your tastebuds call for.
Most people opt for a lighter roast of single origin coffees as it brings out the sweetness and acidity of the coffee. Darker roasts can turn out smoky and bitter in the filtering process, and may need a splash of milk to round out the flavours.
On the other hand, espresso coffee is made an espresso machine which forces hot water through fine coffee grounds under immense pressure. The result is a cup of espresso that has a heavier texture and more intense flavour than filter coffees. In the same way, single origins can provide a range of flavours from safe to exotic flavours. However, keep in mind that if you want to add milk to your coffee, that this might mask the flavours of the single origins instead of enhancing them like blends. If in doubt, check with your specialty roaster for brewing recommendations and try a straight espresso if you can!
Now that you know the lowdown about single origin coffee, next comes the fun part – taste testing. Let the adventure around the world begin, one single origin brew at a time.
At Astur Coffee, we source single origin coffees from Colombia, Ethiopia, Guatemala, India, Kenya and Rwanda. As fellow coffee lovers, we’d love to have a chat if you have any questions or feedback about our products!