What You Need to Know About Choosing Single Origin Coffees
On the simplest level, the term “single origin” refers to coffee beans that came from one place - such as a single country. You’ve probably seen labels that indicate the country of origin. The label may tell you that the coffee beans bearing the label were grown in a specific country. Some labels give more information about where the beans grow, such as a region within the country, an estate, or on or in a mountainous region.
Info About Some Single Origin Coffees We Carry
Mexico is the world’s largest coffee producer. You might expect the country that produces the most coffee of any country in the world to have a lot of large coffee plantations. But the country’s coffee is produced on over small 100,000 coffee farms throughout the nation. Most of that coffee is produced in three southern states: Chiapas, Oaxaca, and Veracruz. Mexican coffee beans that bear the designation “Altura” are beans that grew at higher altitudes.
Mexican coffee is very aromatic, and it produces a deep and distinctively sharp flavor that makes it an excellent choice for dark roasted coffee beans. Mexican coffee is often used in blends.
Costa Rica grows Arabica beans. The predominant source of the nation’s coffee is “fincas” - or small coffee farms. All Costa Rican coffee beans are processed with water. Coffee from this country produces a flavor profile that has a sharp acidity and medium body. We carry Costa Rica Tarrazu beans, and that mountainous district produces some of the country’s most exceptional coffee.
Columbia is the second largest coffee producer in the world, and it’s arguably the most well known. Most of Columbia’s coffee is grown on small farms in remote areas, so mules and jeeps carry green coffee beans from farms to processing centers.
Columbia produces several grades of coffee. The top quality coffee is known as Columbian Supremo. It is characterized by a pleasant aroma and a delicate sweetness. The Excelso grade has a softer, but more acidic flavor.
Brazil is the largest coffee producing country in the world. But despite its size, the nation doesn’t produce more coffee than other countries, and it still lags behind Mexico and Columbia regarding the amount of coffee it produces. Brazil is among the few countries in the world that have different climate and landscape conditions that make it possible to grow both Arabica and Robusta beans. Our Brazil No. 18 Arabica beans are grown at altitudes of between 2,000 and 4,000 feet in the ideal conditions of the Amazon Rainforest. The perfect climate produces beans with less acidity than beans from other Central and South American countries that are grown at comparable altitudes. Most of the coffee grown in Brazil is grown on massive coffee plantations.
Ethiopia has three central growing regions - Sidamo, Harrar, and Kaffa. Single origin coffees from Ethiopia usually bear one of those names. The country uses wet processing for their beans - and most of the nation’s coffee is harvested from wild coffee tree forests. Ethiopian coffee has an earthy, full-bodied, and richly bold flavor profile.
Kenya produces most of its coffee on small farms that lie on the foothills of Mount Kenya. Kenyan coffee is characterized by its full body, rich fragrance, fruitiness, and sharp acidity. The fact that Kenyan coffee beans grow on small farms allows the farmers and processors to focus on the quality of their coffees. Our Kenya Fancy Mark coffee beans are estate grown.
Indonesia - Three islands in Indonesia are known for their outstanding coffee crops: Sumatra, Java, and Sulawesi. Most of Indonesia’s coffee is grown on small one-to-two acre farms. The beans are processed using a dry processing method. Coffee beans from all three Indonesian islands are known for their pronounced rich flavor, full flavor, and mild acidity. Some Indonesian coffee producers like to keep some of their coffee crops in warehouses to age the beans because they can command higher prices for aged beans. Aging produces coffees that are less acidic than the already mildly acidic coffees, but aging helps the beans develop a richer and deeper flavor.
What Do Terms “Direct Trade” and “Fair Trade” Mean?
“Direct Trade” refers to a relationship that growers and processors develop with roasters who buy beans “directly” from the growers, avoiding the need to go through an exporter. For coffee bean growers, it offers the guarantee of a buyer, but it also encourages growers and roasters to communicate about coffee trends and bean buyers’ preferences. “Fair Trade,” on the other hand, is a term that applies to single origin beans that are grown on small rural farms. International agencies intervene to create cooperatives of small rural coffee bean farmers and to make sure that farmers can make a living and continue to engage in sustainable farming.
The best way to learn about the differences in flavor profiles, acidity and other characteristics of different coffees is by tasting single origin varieties. Look for one of our wholesale roasted or unroasted Single Origin Coffee bean varieties from one of the countries mentioned above. You can then take advantage of what you’ve learned about coffees from different countries to create a uniquely personal blend that combines the best qualities of your favorite single origin varieties.