What is Single-Origin Coffee? (Fun Facts)

cup of coffee beans

In brief, single-origin coffee is a specialty coffee that is sourced from a specific producer, crop, or region in a specific country.

As you know by now, that’s how the terminology “single-origin” was derived from.

Traceability is something that makes single-origin coffee unique and distinctive amongst other coffee varieties.

The taste and flavor of this particular coffee blend not only represent its origin but also showcases its quality.

Good stuff, eh?

Now, onto the fun facts!

What is Single-Origin Coffee?

Single-origin coffee is the term used to describe a type of coffee the comes from a specific geographical location, producer, or plantation.

Roasting facilities lightly roast single-origin coffees to preserve their tastes, giving them a tea-like texture that may surprise consumers anticipating a smoky, bitter taste.

There are sub-categories within the classification of  “single-origin coffee” as it could apply to anything from a whole area to a single farm.

These sub-categories are estate coffee and micro-lot coffee.

Estate Coffee vs Micro-lot Coffee

Estate coffee is a type of single-origin coffee that is also known as single estate coffee.

Single estate means the coffee is sourced from a single farm, mill, or cooperative.

On the other hand, micro-lot coffee is sourced from larger farms and is famous for its special and unique flavor profiles.

Micro-lots are grown in limited quantities and are cultivated separately for quality purposes which makes them a bit pricey compared to estate coffees.

So, whichever you choose between these two, coffee quality is highly guaranteed.

What is the Best Single-Origin Coffee?

Single-Origin Coffee is ideal for your morning caffeine fix.

The “best” single-origin coffee depends on a person’s taste.

Single-origin coffee is usually roasted lighter than blended coffee.

As coffee is roasted darker, the roasted tastes become more powerful, and the subtleties of the coffee’s origin become more toned down.

Following that, you can check the roaster’s recommended brewing information. The roaster usually has certain brewing procedures in mind.

As they roast coffee, they usually provide brewing instructions and a guide on the packaging.

Professional coffee tasters analyze the coffee using a procedure known as cupping

Using a French press or a coffee plunger yields a similar result. Such a method is a good way to start, but certain brewing methods, such as the pour-over filter, an Aeropress, or a Chemex, are excellent for bringing out the unique qualities of these coffees.

And obviously, single-origin coffees may also be used to make espresso.

In actuality, some roasters do provide a slightly darker espresso roast intended just for espresso brewing.

Thus, if you’ve been accustomed to working with an espresso blend, you’ll frequently discover that you need to use a slightly distinct brew ratio to achieve the greatest results.

Do consider the fact that each espresso setup is distinctive. Various grinders, filter baskets, water, chemistry, and other factors will influence how your espresso extracts.

Learn more about single-origin coffee by watching the video below.

A beginner’s guide to Single-Origin Coffee

Is Single-Origin Coffee Better?

When compared to normal coffee, single-origin coffee has a more distinctive taste which makes this particular variety better than the others.

The presence of plant genetic variation, diversity in environmental and climatic settings, and the growth and processing methods involved in the production of coffee by each producer, could result in the quality and taste of the coffee being different from each other. 

Additionally, in past times, an increasing number of customers have chosen foods based on local features and product particularities, as well as environmental and ethical concerns.

This trend indicates widespread interest regarding food production practices, safety, health, sustainability, and social issues. 

An additional factor is that a rising consumer population is concerned about food safety and quality, and considers origin to be an indicator of quality

Single-origin coffee development is an integral approach towards preserving coffee quality, grade, and cupping score.

Why is Single-Origin Coffee Expensive?

Single-origin coffee is slightly more expensive because the place of origin is a major pricing factor in the specialty coffee market.

Raw coffee beans from Bali

Coffee is believed to be the world’s second most sold commodity, behind crude oil.

Upon the first impression, it would seem that most, if not all coffee businesses gain greatly from the commercialization of this fine product; unfortunately, that isn’t the case at all.

Developing nations, being the primary producers of coffee, have been confronted by the so-called “coffee paradox.”

What happens is that producers’ revenue in developing countries still tends to decline despite coffee consumptions in developed countries growing tremendously and prices continuously increasing.

In this context, the idea of single-origin coffee has emerged.

Through this, the goal is rewarding coffee-producing countries that strive to obtain greater profits by adding value to their coffee through the harvest and post-harvest phases which take place in their lands.

Moreover, research results of a hedonic pricing model for single-origin coffees based on internet auction data reveal that the nation and region of origin are already significant price determinants in the specialty coffee market.

From an economic standpoint, statistics from online retail stores in the United States demonstrate that single-origin coffees have significantly higher retail costs, having 100% Kona coffee from Hawaii as well as Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee being the most pricey.

Why Do People Prefer Single-Origin Coffee?

Consumers favor single-origin coffee for this simple reason: they want to savor the distinct tastes of the beans’ place of origin.

On just a single-origin coffee pack, you’ll typically see a few significant pieces of information regarding where it was cultivated, the kind of coffee they produced, the processing technique they used, and several taste remarks from the roaster.

Now let us begin with where it was grown.

The label’s specified location might indicate a variety of things.

It can pertain to coffees from a country, a specific region, a specific processing mill, a single farm, or even a single lot of coffee cultivated on that land.

It’s not just that, however, the facts may differ depending on the location of origin.

In Ethiopia, for example, single-origin coffee is often sourced from numerous family-run farms.

The local mill then processes and sells these.

In Brazil, on the other hand, coffee estates are way bigger, therefore it’s extremely common seeing the name of the estate as well as the family who owns it.

How Does Single-Origin Coffee Taste?

Single-origin coffee’s varied tastes can be rich and flavorful.

It’s typical to hear somebody talk about coffees cultivated in a specific country as if they all taste the same thing.

Geography isn’t the only factor; in reality, it may not even be the most crucial component in why coffee from a specific country tastes the way it does.

The two main coffee species are Arabica and Robusta.

There are more coffee species, but these two are amongst the most frequently produced single-origin coffees.

They are nearly exclusively a variant of the arabica species. There are several types of coffee trees known as cultivars or varietals.

Traditional coffee varieties include typica bourbon and caturra, which offer typical chocolate as well as caramel flavors.

You may stumble across a geisha, which is noted for its delicate floral tastes, as well as native heirloom kinds, which frequently yield more fruity tea-like flavors.

Farmers plant one or more of these types not only for the diverse tastes they provide but also for how well they withstand disease and insect infestations.

Every type has a particular flavor, so the more you are mindful of it as you try them, the more you’ll uncover the distinctive variances among them.  

As a reference, one study investigated the volatile profile of roasted coffee samples from a wide range of geographical locations.

Coffee Beans OriginRoasting DegreeAromaAcidityFlavorBodyAftertaste
ColombiaDarkwoody, spicy, toasted notes with nutty hintsgentle brightnessbutter, caramel, chocolate, nutsmoderate bodydark chocolate with nutty hints
HondurasMediumvanilla, butter, caramel, nutty notesmoderate brightnessbutter, caramel, chocolate, spicy, toast-like notesfull bodychocolate, nutty, sherry
MexicoMedium/Lightspicy, woody, vanilla notesgentle brightnesssandalwood, honey, pineapple, vanillamedium bodydark chocolate hints, vanilla
El SalvadorMedium/Lightspicy, fruity, popcorn, toasted notesgentle brightnessmocha, caramel, apple, nutty, almondsmoderate bodydark chocolate hints, nutty
PeruMediumspicy, floral, citrus notesgentle brightnesstobacco, caramel, vanilla, nuttymoderate bodyvelvety, sweet, caramel
Papua New GuineaMedium/Lightspicy, apricot, bouquet notesmoderate brightnesswoody, spicy, rose, honey, apricot, maltyfull bodydark chocolate hints, butter, caramel
BrazilMediumtoasted notes with nutty hintsgentle brightnesscaramel, chocolate, nuttyfull bodydark chocolate
Ethiopia, SidamoLightcitrus, bouquet notessparkle brightnesslemon, caramel, berriesmedium bodydark chocolate hints
Ethiopia, HarrarMedium/Darkberries, rose, floral, apricot notesmoderate brightnessbutter, caramel, apricot, rose bouquetfull bodydark chocolate hints, caramel
Profile of roasted coffee samples from a wide range of geographical locations and their brewing characteristics.

What is the Best Processing Method For Single-Origin Coffee?

Single-origin coffee processing methods include washed and natural and oth have advantages and disadvantages, but most individuals prefer natural processing.

Coffee beans in a machine.

The processing method is something many roasters claim as the most important determinant in defining the taste of a specific coffee.

Whenever I mention processing, I’m referring to a process used by the producer to separate the coffee beans from the various layers of fruit flesh.

There are two methods for this: washed or wet method and the natural or dry method.

Washed or Wet Method

The coffee cherries in washed coffees are left to thrive in tanks of water when the outer layers of the fruit get washed away. The rest of the green beans are then dried and packaged for shipment.

This method is traditionally used in Kenya, Colombia, and across Central America to produce coffee featuring cleanly balanced tastes and an abundance of acidities.

Natural or Dry Method

Natural coffees are prepared by sun-drying ripe red coffee cherries for a week or so on concrete patios or raised beds. Before being milled to remove the fragile layers of fruit, the cherry wilts and starts to ferment in the direct sunlight.

As a byproduct, the coffee features unique fruity and fermented tastes, as well as greater sweetness with reduced acidity compared to washed coffee.

Producers from Africa and Brazil mostly use the natural process.

Honey Process Method

You’ll stumble across a variety of different processing methods and the honey process is one of them!

The honey processing method is a variant of natural processing methods.

The cherries are pulped removing the fruit’s peel before being turned numerous times to aerate them for drying and transporting to market.

This results in a sweet coffee with fewer of the strange fruity tastes of a naturally processed coffee.

Final Thoughts

Coffees from a “single-origin” might sound daunting. 

The term alone is interesting and will raise a million questions.

To sum it up, single-origin coffee is simply coffee sourced from a specific location, mill, producer, plantation, and bean.

The term “single-origin” is acknowledged as one of the most crucial elements contributing to coffee quality and determining coffee consumers’ purchasing decisions.

Get your hands on it now to experience its distinct flavors!

Matt Marshall

As I learn more and more about coffee and coffee products I want to share all my learnings with you here on this website. I hope you find my articles useful and entertaining to read.

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