What is single origin coffee?

Updated: Jun 3, 2020

As the name implies, single origin is when a coffee is traceable to its origin. This can be as broad as the country, the region, the state, or as specific as the lot where the grower picked it from. Drinking traceable coffee is important for quality and for socioeconomic matters.

Single origin does not directly mean better coffee, aside from origin, there are many other factors that determine the quality and taste of the coffee, such as the coffee type, the roast level, the roast date, the way the coffee was processed, etc. In addition, each coffee extraction method will bring forth different qualities from every single coffee.

Green coffee beans in burlap sacks

A way to understand single origin is to use wine as an example. Chardonnays from California differ from their counterparts in France, although they will share some characteristics as a raw material, differences in altitude, weather, and many others will impact what you get in the cup.

Freshly Roasted Single Origin Coffee WeiWei Huehuetenango Guatemala

Knowing where your coffee came from and buying traceable coffee creates a clear and transparent supply chain from the producer to the consumer aimed at increasing the quality of life of the coffee farmers, some which live at or below the poverty line.

When you buy generic coffee at your grocery store from multi-national brands, you are probably buying coffee that was traded close to the international C market price, a price so low, it perpetuates the farmers’ struggle. However, small independent roasters typically source only the highest quality beans and pay a premium for them.

We currently source green coffee beans from reputable importers but aim at establishing direct ties with coffee farmers in order to magnify our impact.

Is single origin coffee better than blend for espresso?

Cumbia double origin espresso blend on breville barista express

Cumbia is our answer to that question, a double origin with two coffees that are traceable and ethically sourced. Blends are a great way for roasters to showcase their creativity by pairing outstanding beans at specific roast profiles.

There are many single origin coffees that shine in espresso form, but their potential is somewhat muted in contrast to other brewing methods such as pour over or Aeropress which are able to highlight their unique qualities. We are an espresso household and aside from our blend, we usually pull single origin espressos. Latin American single origins being my personal preference.

So, should you buy single origin coffee?

Yes! But also buy blends! Buy coffees that are traceable to origin from companies which care about the producers and the environment. Each coffee you try is a unique capsule in time, so try to discover your favorite origin while simultaneously doing good. Take a little more control of the coffee you drink and you will be surprised where it may lead.

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