Coffee Basics: What is single-origin coffee?

As you might imagine, at Counter Culture Coffee, we talk about coffee a lot. We’re passionate and sometimes use industry terms to convey complicated concepts. That said, we also want to make sure that we talk about coffee in a way that anyone can understand. To that end, we’ve started a new series that aims to shed light on coffee subjects in an accessible way.

The third topic for our Coffee Basics series explains the concept of single-origin coffees and how they compare to our year-round coffees.

What does single-origin mean?
Simply put, a single-origin coffee means that it comes from a single producer, crop, or region in one country. Counter Culture’s single-origin coffees, like Finca El Puente, are generally named after the community, farm, or co-op that is producing the coffee.

Coffees that aren’t single-origin are typically referred to as blends, which include more than one single-origin coffee. Most, but not all, of our year-round offerings are blends. Single-origins are also different from our year-round offerings—Forty-Six, Hologram, Big Trouble, Slow Motion, Fast Forward, and Apollo—because they are only available for certain times throughout the year. This is because most coffee is harvested once a year, and we try to feature our single origins when they are at their peak taste-wise. Sometimes that can be a few months, but other times it can be for almost a full year, as is the case with some Ethiopian offerings.

Do single-origins taste different?
Because single-origin coffees are traceable to a single place, they typically have a distinct flavor based on the growing and processing conditions of that region. Flavors can be heavily influenced by many factors including botanical variety, soil, climate, altitude, and shade. Our single-origin beans are also typically roasted lighter to highlight the flavors inherent to the bean rather than the roast. Most of Counter Culture’s single-origin coffees are lighter in roast.

Are single-origin coffees better than other coffees?
Neither single-origin nor blends are inherently better than the other. At Counter Culture, we believe that great coffee comes in different forms and can come from vastly different locations. That’s why we champion the idea of #anycoffeeanybrew!

How can I tell which Counter Culture coffees are single-origin?
Most of our single-origin coffees are packaged in our blue-purple bags—like La Golondrina (at right). We provide a description of the farm where that coffee originated on the back of our single-origin coffee bags, as well, to give customers some insight into the coffees and their background.

We also sell limited-release coffees throughout the year that come in boxes and are typically single-origin coffees from an experimental coffee project, coffee from a specific part of a farm, or of one specific variety.

Our year-round coffees, like Forty-Six pictured below, have stickers on the back of the bags that break down the percentage of coffee from the differing regions.

We hope this post has helped differentiate single-origin coffees and some of our other offerings. Do you have a favorite?