Single Source Coffee and why it Matters

The terms “single origin” and “single source” have been popping up quite a bit lately in the coffee world. They generally mean the same thing—coffee beans that can be traced back to a single region, farm or co-op, although single origin generally refers to what part of a country a coffee originates from, while single source may refer more to a specific farm.

So why is single source coffee special? It turns out that geography has a big impact on the taste of coffee, and having a single source makes it easier to trace the coffee beans back to one farm, season or harvest. A couple of experts offering single source and single origin coffee shared further thoughts on the topic.

Lizeth Zorrilla owns a coffee house with her sister, Janeth. They serve coffee grown on their grandfather’s farm in Oaxaca, Mexico. His coffee crop, at its lowest point, is 1,500 meters above sea level (MASL), and at it's highest, it reaches 1,800 meters. Lizeth said this altitude provides a high quality bean with a very unique taste.

The lower altitudes in the state of Oaxaca generally produce coffee that is medium bodied, with a slight nutty, almond taste. It’s good on its own, and it’s also versatile and works well in many coffee drinks. “I think single source is becoming popular because people want a deeper connection or understanding of what they are consuming,” Lizeth added. “With the amount of information available to us, more and more people want to know how food is processed or made. More people are also interested in spending money to support local small shops.”

Our supplier, who actually visits the farms that supply our coffee stated that “When you mix everything together, you really can’t tell what is what.”  This is the kind of coffee you buy in the Grocery Store, regardless if its in a can, bag or whole bean "bulk" coffee. They're all blended coffees.

One example of single source coffee is our own “Mother’s Brew”, a Colombian coffee. “A lot of the specialty coffees come from Colombia and in general have a really distinct, great fruit brightness. This particular coffee rounds out nicely with a Dried Orange, Cranberry Juice bouquet.” Says our supplier.  “It’s one of the best cup winners of this region.”

While taste matters, the main reason for the increased interest in single origin coffee is the social responsibility. “I think you can compare a lot of what’s going in coffee to what’s going on the food industry, where people have become more conscious of what they’re buying,” she said. “They’re willing to pay more for coffee that’s been responsibly sourced and processed.”

Coffee that’s labeled by a single origin or source lets buyers know exactly where it comes from, and whether those employees are treated fairly and are getting fair wages for the coffee beans they’re selling, Kendra explained. “Historically, coffee as a commodity has been very cheaply traded, which means that labor conditions in some of the coffee growing countries have been less favorable. Coffee is coming along with the rest of major industries, like food and even some textiles, as far as social responsibility is concerned.”

So when you buy a cup of single source coffee, or a bag of single origin coffee for home brewing, you’re helping to build a network of quality products and ethical business practices. Do you have a favorite coffee from a specific country, region, farm or co-op? Let us know your choice, and why you think it’s the best.

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