What is Single Origin Coffee?

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Ever wondered why some coffee enthusiasts rave about single origin coffee? Or why a pound of this specialty brew can set you back more than $30? Let’s pull back the curtain on this coffee connoisseur’s favorite.

What is Single Origin Coffee?

Single-origin coffee is a type of coffee that comes from a single producer, crop or region in one country1. It’s different from blended coffee, which is a mixture of beans from different origins. Single-origin coffee can offer unique characteristics and specific tastes when compared to blended coffees from multiple origins2.

Single-origin coffee can be sourced from a single farm, multiple farms from the same country, or just a blend of the coffees grown from that country. Single-origin coffees are typically very expressive of the country where they’re purchased from. For example, this Ethiopian Sidamo single-origin coffee has strong peach-like tasting notes.

The Single-Origin Coffee Experience

Picture this: It’s November in Erie County, Kenya. Coffee harvest is buzzing. We’re introduced to Abel, a proud owner of a one-acre farm passed down through generations. For Abel, coffee isn’t just a crop; it’s a testament to quality. The better the bean, the better the price.

Single Origin Coffee

Now, what makes this Kenyan coffee so unique? It’s all about the altitude, climate, soil, and sunlight. Nestled 1700 meters above sea level, these farms boast volcanic soil, perfect for slow-growing coffee beans. This slow growth gifts the beans with fruity and floral notes, a hallmark of high-quality coffee.

Volcanica Kenyan Single Origin Coffee
Volcanica Coffee carries a very popular single-origin Kenyan Roast

The Art of Hand-Picking

While Brazil, the coffee giant, uses machines on vast flat farms, Kenya’s rugged terrain demands a personal touch. Enter Josephine, a seasoned coffee farmer. For her, every cherry picked is a choice. Only the ripest make the cut. This painstaking process ensures that when you sip a Kenyan brew, you’re tasting the best of the best.

Commodity vs. Specialty Coffee: Know the Difference

Brazil’s mechanized approach might be efficient, but it’s a mixed bag, with ripe and unripe cherries often harvested together. This is commodity coffee – mass-produced and often inconsistent.

Then there’s specialty coffee. Think of it as the champagne of the coffee world. It’s here that single-origin coffee shines. Q graders, the sommeliers of coffee, rate these beans at the pinnacle of quality.

And while both commodity and specialty coffee hail from the CafΓ© Arabica plant, the difference is stark. Compare a standard $8 coffee can to a Panamanian single-origin variant that fetched a whopping $6,000 per pound!

The Single-Origin Promise

Single-origin coffee promises a journey. Each sip transports you to its source, be it the highlands of Kenya or the valleys of Panama. It’s not just about caffeine; it’s about experiencing a place, a culture, and the passion of farmers like Abel and Josephine.

Wrapping Up

So, the next time you brew a cup, remember: Behind that rich aroma and robust flavor lies a tale of tradition, precision, and dedication. Single-origin coffee isn’t just a drink; it’s an experience. Dive in and savor the story in every sip. Cheers to the hidden world of coffee!


  1. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/what-is-single-origin-coffee_l_610d5a7fe4b041dfbaa9676f
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Single-origin_coffee
Avatar Of Kelsey Todd
With over two decades in the coffee industry, Kelsey is a seasoned professional barista with roots in Seattle and Santa Barbara. Accredited by The Coffee Association of America and a member of The Baristas Guild, he combines practical expertise with a profound understanding of coffee's history and cultural significance. Kelsey tries his best to balance family time with blogging time and fails miserably.