Single-origin coffee produces a beautiful, often bright, flavorful cup that can satisfy the pickiest of coffee fans. Single-origin coffee is all about traceability and the ability of the roaster, and drinker to understand the origins of the beans they are drinking. This in turn uncovers the the conditions that add complexity to the flavors in your cup of coffee - soil, weather, farming style, etc.
Still, do you really know the difference between that single-origin cup, the one at your local drive-thru, and last year’s breakfast blend in your cabinet? Here are 9 reasons why that single-origin tastes so lovely.
- Beans used in single-origin coffees are considered specialty coffee on the pyramid of coffee quality - but are considered lower quality (and generally significantly lower cost) than estate coffee. We believe it strikes the perfect balance of quality and price.
- Single-origin coffees are almost always picked by hand.
- Because of mostly manual processes and small batches, sorting is typically able to almost entirely eliminate bad beans and ensure that each batch is as flavorful as possible.
- Single-origin coffee has less global government regulation than single-malt Scotch, or single-vineyard wine in its definition - but is generally considered to be a coffee that comes from a single producer, crop, or region within a single country.
- Many roasters lean on the lighter side when roasting single-origin beans to bring out the flavors native to the bean rather than the roast because of the uniqueness and uniformity in a single-origin coffee.
- Single-origin coffee costs more to the end consumer. Still, in return, roasters can pay a higher living way to farmers in 3rd-world countries where most gourmet coffee is grown.
- Single-origin coffees bring with them flavor overtones from their surrounding environment - especially those with a lighter roast. Soil quality, altitude, sun/shade, and other weather components can significantly impact the overall flavor profile.
- There are geographic limitations on single-origin coffees that restrict production…because it can only be grown in one location :) Luckily, since coffee is generally grown in equatorial zones, these growing seasons aren’t short - but the seasons are limited relative to a blend which drives prices up.
- How do you brew single-origin coffee? Well, there are many opinions on this, and ours is - however you want. There are some home and professional baristas who believe the only way to brew these beautiful beans is as a single-cup pour-over, followed by serving it straight black. Our view is slightly less extreme because coffee exists to be enjoyed. Like all culinary treats, it contains an element of personal preference. Some of our favorite brewing methods include:
- Yes, the pour-over. It will produce a light-body, clear, wonderfully expressive brew. It will typically do a great job showcasing any citrus or earthy notes in the bean as the paper filter will strip away most oils. We love our Costa Rican Medium Roast for this method.
- French press. We love this method for our medium and darker roasted beans. It helps produce a full-body, smooth brew while also accentuating chocolatey or caramelly roast flavors. With a great bean, this is still a method that allows for a lot of control. Our Indonesian Bali Blue is our current favorite for the French press.
- Cold brew...yes, cold brew. This may be blasphemy, but cold brew is a fantastic brewing method for specialty-grade coffee. It allows for direct extraction, slowly and directly in the water - and as a result, it works beautifully with a smooth, high-body coffee. You can check out our cold brew recipe and our favorite bean for cold brew - the Papua New Guinea Medium Roast.
- These are just our favorites so we encourage you to try your own as well!
We expect this world to continue to evolve in terms of transparency, traceability, and taste profile over the coming years. Now that you’re an expert on single-origin coffee, you can check out some of our fresh-roasted offerings with a more discerning eye!