This is the first in a series of blog posts called “Learn About Coffee“. In this series, we’ll be giving you some very basic background and educational information about coffee, where it’s grown, how it’s processed and how you can brew great coffee at home. This series is intended to be pretty basic and very casual. If you’re just getting into coffee and want to learn a little bit more about it, this series is exactly what you’re looking for. So make sure you get all the posts by subscribing and getting it right in your inbox!

A Definition of Single Origin Coffee

As simple as it sounds, there’s actually some confusion about this. We refer to a “single origin coffee” when it originates from one specific geographic region or country. For most, it’s enough that the coffee comes from the same country, or more commonly, the same region within a country. Some people would go so far as to say the coffee needs to be from one particular farm in order to truly be considered “single origin”

Ethiopian Harrar CoffeeAs one example, our Ethiopian Harrar is grown in a region of Ethiopia called (get this) Harrar. That’s a pretty broad descriptor as the region encompasses a huge number of growers, co-ops and processing methods, varietals and more. Some areas of the world we have more specific descriptors available. We currently have a Guatemalan coffee in the shop that comes from the region of Guatemala called Huehuetenango (way-way-ten-AN-go). More specifically, it comes from the Dulce Leonarda estate. So at times, we refer to this coffee as a Guatemala Dulce Leonarda or we could simple say it’s a Guatemala Huehuetenango.

Is Single Origin Coffee Better?

Great question. The answer is a definite “maybe”.

One of the benefits of a single origin coffee is that you get to enjoy all of the unique flavors of that coffee growing region. Different origins have different flavor profiles. African coffees – Ethiopians in particular – are known for being bright and fruity. Most Indonesian coffees are deep and rich like a Sumatra. Central Americans are more sweet and medium bodied. These are most certainly generalizations, but you can start to get the idea.

Single origin coffees are most certainly in vogue in the coffee shop world these days. Most third-wave shops tend to move towards only single origins and away from blends. Part of the reason is that it’s harder to hide negative flavors of bad coffee in a single origin than it is in a blend. Decades ago, blends fell out of favor because roasters started using cheaper and cheaper components in their blends and the quality dropped. Single origins tend to stand out more.

Learn More: What Single Origin Coffees does FreshGround Roasting have?

Personally, I think it’s a bit short sighted to exclusively go with single origin coffees. Yes, it’s definitely interesting to taste all of the differences between coffees. However, when you push off blends like some second-rate coffee, it’s almost like expecting a chef to make you a meal with only one ingredient. Blending is a whole different art that is for another blog post.

Question for the comments – do you have a favorite single origin coffee?