Myth-busting: Are single origin coffees worth it?
Just like single malts and single vineyards, single origin coffees are often the choice of the connoisseur. And just like their alcoholic counterparts, single origin coffees are bursting with complex flavours that need to be savoured.
Need some guidance on what to choose? Here’s our guide to single origin coffee.
What is single origin coffee?
Single origin is exactly as it sounds – coffee that comes from the same location, which might be a country, estate or small holding. Sometimes even a specific plot of land or ‘microlot’. It will usually be labelled with even more detail on the exact place of origin too, like Brazilian Monte Santo de Minas, Papua New Guinea Elimbari or Colombian Tacueyó Reserve, to help the drinker pinpoint the exact place of origin and learn about how the terroir, climate and local processing method affects how their cup of coffee tastes.
Some single origin coffees are only available at certain times of the year, which means they’re often highly sought after – like a first day of the season Beaujolais Noveau – and this rarity can mean you pay a premium for certain varieties.
Why would I choose single origin coffee?
Exploring single origin coffees gives you a chance to travel the world – quite literally – exploring the different flavours different coffee producing regions have to offer. How they smell and taste is influenced by where and how they’re grown, from soil type to altitude, and how producers remove the flesh from the coffee cherry. It’s often traceable down to the farm or even the plot it was grown on, so you can be sure your coffee is sustainable, from both a people and planet perspective.
Often single origin coffees have more pronounced aromas and flavour notes than blends, as they taste exactly as nature intended. Some will be light and fruity, others rich and chocolaty, but each is unique. The flavours can seem more exotic and complex, and if you’re just learning about coffee, or want to flex your palette, they’re perfect for exploring what you like and why.
Does that means blends aren’t as good?
Blended coffee has historically had a bad press as blending has often been used as a way to disguise poor quality beans. But blending can actually enhance the flavour of good quality beans, by pairing them with another coffee with natural flavour notes that complement and enhance them. An experienced coffee blender can create all kinds of delicious combinations with the right pairing of beans, which gives you lots more options to explore.
Plus, blends are often more versatile in terms of how you can brew them, making them a better option if you need an all-rounder to suit different coffee making kit.
Which should I choose?
If you’re keen to grow your coffee knowledge and are looking for a cup of coffee that brings natural flavour notes you might not be expecting, savouring a single origin is for you. Single origins are a good way to explore different roast levels, acidity and body levels, which are often rounded out in blends. For a coffee that’s been perfectly paired to deliver a particular flavour profile, then you might prefer a blend.
But the road to becoming a coffee connoisseur is all about exploration, so give both a try to find what works best for you. The worst that can happen is that you end up with a kitchen cupboard packed full of great coffees. And that’s never a bad thing.
Ready to start exploring? Find out more about our range of single origin coffees here.