Specialty coffee has given coffee drinkers old and new an appreciation for single origin coffees. There’s a certain excitement reading the packaging of a freshly roasted bag of coffee, figuring out the country of origin, the name of the farm, and other details that provide a deeper sense of connection with the coffee and its origins. Single origin coffees aren’t just coffees that come from a single country, but even from a single farm or estate. It’s the coffee that’s pushed at the very front when talking about specialty coffee, but often forgotten in the discussion are the blends, which may not give off that same attraction to connoisseurs because of being a, well, blend.
Starting off with single origin, a big part of its appeal is the aspect of uniqueness and individuality that it brings. A coffee from Colombia sourced from a specific region and a specific farmer provides not just traceability, but also a backstory to coffee drinkers about the way the coffees get to them. It’s often forgotten that a lot of the greatness of a coffee can be affected at the farm level, from processing techniques, consistency in weather, and the general care the farmer puts in taking care of the farm. Small or even micro lots provide even more curiosity to the excited coffee drinker when they find out that the coffee they’re having is not just a single origin coffee, but one that is limited because of the farm size and/or the harvest.
As in most other things, the blends tend to be described as friendlier in terms of price and consistent in terms of flavour. Whether it’s in coffee or other beverages, there’s an expectation when a blend is made that it will always taste the same, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Blends are put together for a variety of reasons, like getting to highlight the best of different coffees, or helping to bring out a certain type of flavour profile. Often, cafés use blends for their espressos and milk-based beverages to ensure a consistently good cup, which is why oftentimes, blends are used for espressos, although they can be roasted to be for filter as well.
To choose between single origin or blends will simply boil down to a matter of preference. There are people whose preference is really to just stick with single origin coffees and will continue to explore different origins, while others explore the different varieties of coffee out there. From a coffee drinker’s perspective, drinking a blend can provide a surefire coffee to look for on a consistent basis, since roasters would have an easier time ensuring consistency for a blend by making the necessary adjustments.
There is a myriad of different kinds of blends, whether it’s a blend of different origins, a blend of different farms from a single country, or even a blend of the same coffee but processed in different ways. The single origin side, on the other hand, provides a coffee aficionado an opportunity to always explore and make attempts to try as many different coffees from as many different farms and origins as possible, looking to find those intricate notes and even making their own discoveries along the way.
Words & by Ryan Uy (@thenameisrye)