In recent years, single origin has become much more than a buzzword. Whether they are in it for the superior quality or the greater sense of connection to farmers and their cultures, coffee drinkers are increasingly seeking single origin. Everyone from major coffee chains to independent coffee roasters has taken notice and put more effort into sourcing single origin beans.
Overall, the single origin movement has been great for the coffee industry as a whole. Quality coffee has become more widely available, and more coffee drinkers are interested in the story behind their coffee — where it comes from, what goes into growing and processing the beans, etc.
The countries of origin have seen significant benefits from this as well. Countries participating in the trade of single origin coffee boast improved wages and infrastructure, increased ability to protect their ecology, and boosted local tourism. Farmers in these regions also have more resources to improve the quality of their beans and more freedom to experiment with varietals.
But single origin coffee also carries some assumptions. While the beans in a single origin coffee do come from the same region, does that mean that the beans all feature the same characteristics? As Serious Eats asks, “But what if that single place is really big?”
Due to the sheer size of some regions, coffees from a variety of farms are often sorted and shipped from coffee mills. Coffees in these mills can be mixed together, creating blends of many different coffees from a single region. In some cases, high-end beans might be cut with cheaper coffee bean types to maintain specific price points. These practices undercut the quality guarantee people look for in single origin coffees and obscure the labor practices of the farms and mills involved.
This is where single producer coffees come in. Single producer coffees come from one farm or estate, taking the direct trade aspect of single origin to a more targeted level. With these coffees, you know exactly who is producing it and what kind of coffee you are getting. The origins of your coffee are never called into question.
What’s more, you get a greater sense of connectivity with the community your coffee came from. Single producer coffees connect roasters and coffee lovers with families and small communities that rely on direct coffee trade for their livelihood. The coffees we offer, like that from the Peruvian farm La Flor de Zapote, help sustain these small farms and the people who run them. Our sales also help build schools in these communities, so that farmers and their families can continue their education and learn sustainable growing practices.
Single origin coffee is a good idea and it has done a lot of good for the coffee industry as a whole. We believe single producer coffees can build on this foundation to the benefit of coffee growers and roasters alike.