What Is Single Origin Coffee?
You may have been browsing coffee bags and you have across the word "single origin". What does it mean? Does it affect the taste of your coffee? Why does this matter to you as a consumer? Here is everything you need to know about single-origin coffee.
What does single-origin mean?
Single-origin means that the coffee comes from a particular region or producer. In other words, single-origin coffee is grown within a single known geographic region. The growing region can affect the characteristics and specific flavours of coffee and contribute to how the coffee is brewed. Thus, everything from the environment, to the soil, to the climate, and cultivation plays a part in the overall taste and quality of single-origin coffee.
When coffee is traced back to a farm, the source of its distinctive flavour can be identified. This makes it easy for you to determine the bag of coffee you are buying at first glance.
Since the term "single-origin coffee" means coffee coming from a single farm or an entire region, there are terms that describe the subcategory of single-origin coffee. These subcategories will tell you how localized the beans are:
Estate coffees are often referred to as single estate coffees. They are generally grown on one massive farm which may range in sizes, from a few acres to large plantations or it is a collection of farms that process their coffee at the same mill. Most times, a single owner operates multiple mills and produces estate coffee. Many countries in South and Central America like Columbia have estate coffee farms.
Microlots are special lots of coffees selected for their unique flavour profiles. You will usually find microlots within larger farms. They are grown in limited quantities, picked, and processed separately from the rest of the farm lots.
Why drink single-origin coffee?
Now you understand what single-origin coffee is, why do coffee enthusiasts prefer it.
Single Origin coffees have unique characteristics. For example, Kenyan coffees are famous for being very fruity. For purists, single origins will always trump over blends because it is in its purest form. Single-origin beans work great with various brewing methods like a chemex or a coffee maker. The increased brew time of this brewing method can help bring out more subtle flavours. They also have an enhanced aroma. If you are a coffee drinker seeking a unique experience from coffee, the single-origin is an excellent option and can be enjoyed without additives such as milk or sugar.
Asides from its exclusive character, it brings value to farmers (producers). It is processed through direct trade practices which ensures that the farmers get fair prices for their products. With reliable and sustainable income, they keep producing high-quality brands through environment-friendly cultivation processes. Makes more sense right?
Different Single Origin Coffee and their flavour notes
One of the exciting things about drinking coffee is having the chance to experience unique flavour notes. Here, you will know the flavours notes found in single-origin coffees from various countries.
Mexican coffee beans
Mexican coffee is known for its nutty tangs, highlighted with notes of chocolatey overtones. Mexican coffees often strikes your palate like white wine. When you think of Mexican coffee, you'd probably think of a medium body, spicy and earthy flavour.
Mexican coffee at a glance
- Flavour profile: Sweet, Acidic, Spicy, Earthy
- Processing method: Washed
- Main growing regions: Chiapas, Oaxaca, Veracruz.
Chiapas: Coffee grown in this area is medium-bodied, gives an abrupt tang, and delivers rich delicate flavours. The Mexican Chiapa coffee is widely considered to grow the highest quality coffee in Mexico because of the tropical climate conditions of the state.
Oaxaca: Coffee is grown in this region has light acidity and is generally light-bodied. If you are a coffee lover looking for lightly acidic coffee and mild flavours, you should consider coffee from this area.
Veracruz: The coffee grown here is known for its remarkable tasting notes- rich and nutty with hints of chocolatey tangs. It is also light-bodied with a balanced acidity.
Kenyan coffee beans
Kenya is one of the few African countries that grow and export high-quality coffee in large volumes. Kenyan coffee is known for its high acidity and berry notes. One of the berry notes is "black currant". It is a flavour that is distinct to Kenyan coffee beans and one of the reasons a cup of coffee from Kenya tastes so delicious and unique. Also, the Kenyan single-origin coffee has a luxurious texture. No wonder many coffee enthusiasts refer to Kenyan coffee as the "Connoisseur's Cup".
Colombian coffee beans
What goes through your mind when you think of Columbia coffee? What is it's flavour notes? Does it have distinct notes? Read on to know what makes your Columbia coffee enticing.
Colombia grows only Arabica coffee. This is because Colombia has the perfect conditions for growing Arabica. That is, high elevation, wet climate, decent infrastructure, and rich volcanic soil.
The coffee in Colombia consists of a large number of varietal because it is grown in different areas in Colombia. The coffee is mild and well-balanced with a silk body. The acidity level is medium to high, yielding a lively and bright brew. The aromas tend towards citrus with hints of spice and cocoa. The various Arabica varieties are Typica, Caturra, Bourbon, Tabi, Maragogipe.
Peru coffee beans
Peru provides optimal growth for Arabica beans. Coffee from Peru's lower altitude farms like those found in Peru- Ecuador border tends to produce coffee that has a medium body, mild acidity, and notes of flowers, nuts, and gentle fruit. The coffee from farms surrounding Cuzco and Machu tends to have bright acidity, a rich sweetness, and vibrant floral aromas. Don't let single-origin beans from Peru slip your mind.
Check out our single-origin beans from Peru to make a delicious cup.
Tanzania coffee beans
Tanzania coffee is somewhat similar to Kenya coffee. It also exhibits a bright, vibrant, wine-y, deep rich taste. The coffee is intense and creamy. A fine Tanzania coffee has tasting notes of fruity flavour (berry-like) and sometimes notes of cedar. Also, ground Tanzania coffee may present a sweet fragrance that is slightly floral with notes of apple fruit. The major regions in Tanzania that grow coffee are Arusha, Oldeani, and Pare. The coffee plant varietals that are commonly grown in Tanzania are Typica, Blue Mountain, Bourbon, and Kent cultivators.
Guatemala coffee beans
Coffee grown in Guatemala has tasting notes indicating cocoa flavour and a toffee-like sweetness. The growing altitude there is 1,200-1700 meters above sea level. The aroma from this coffee is usually floral or citrus like, acidity level can be bright or pleasant. A lighter acidity level and fruity flavour are found among coffees grown in mountains exposed to the Caribbean (e.g Coban and Huehuetenango) or exposed to the Pacific ocean.
Brazilian coffee beans
Brazil is one of the world's leading exporters of coffee beans with a mellow flavour that is ideal for a typical dark roast. The common varieties of coffee in Brazil are Bourbon, Caturra, Typica, Acaia, Mundo, Ichatu, Novo. Brazillian coffees are grown on the mountainside farms at 400-1600 meters above sea level. Most Brazilian coffees have relatively low acidity and have a nutty sweet flavour, or a chocolatey taste. Brazilian coffees are unwashed (they use the dry processing method)
Ethiopia coffee beans
For several years, Ethiopia has provided some of the world's best-reviewed origin beans. The coffee here grows at an altitude of 1500-2200 meters above sea level. The southern part of Ethiopia produces the Sidama coffee which is full-bodied, rich and has a bright finish. The Eastern region of Ethiopia is best known for using the unwashed processing method (dry process) and produces Harrars which are fruity, have winey tones, and complex blueberry notes. The western region produces the Ghimbi, these beans are distinguished by their rich taste, sharp acidity, and complexity of aromas and flavours.
Single-origin coffee regardless of where it grows will provide you with a unique drinking experience. After all, half the fun in drinking coffee lies in experimenting. We recommend cupping coffee from the regions listed above.