Single Origin vs Blends
Definition of Single Origin Coffees and Blends
Single Origin Coffee is grown within a specific geographic region. This region can represent a single farm, a co-op of farms, or an area within a country.
Blended Coffee is a mixture of coffee crops that can come from a specific region or from all over the world.
You can find great Single Origin Coffees and you can find great Blended Coffees. There are advantages to both. Let's take a look!
Single Origin or Blend
Single Origin coffee is most notable for the location it comes from. Each coffee producing region grows coffee that highlights specific flavors.
Having full traceability to the farm or region expresses high quality. Details of the farm or region allow you to see a group of factors that influence the flavor such as:
- Farming and Processing Methods
- Soil Composition (Volcanic Soil)
- Shade-grown coffee or other vegetation near-by
You also get to see how that farm treats its workers or handles sustainable farming methods.
Roast Profiles that Highlight the Region
With Single Origin coffee, the complex flavors that are native to the region, are better featured with a light to medium roast. Too far past medium and the special characteristics of the region get lost.
With a darker roast, the beans begin to caramelize, and the more chocolatey flavors appear. Sometimes this can be a good thing, and there are single origin coffees that do great with a darker roast.
Good enough to drink it black
It is popular to drink Single Origin coffees without sugar or milk. Trying Single Origin Coffee black is a great way for you to experience the natural flavors in the coffee. High quality Single Origin beans allow you to enjoy coffee in its purest form.
Quality in the Beans
There's no place for defects to hide. Single Origin coffee cannot rely on better beans within the bag to improve flavor. There's one bean, usually from one small region, so the flavor has to be spot on.
Difficult to Trace
Blends can maintain some traceability of a region, but it's not very specific. Whereas Single Origins may highlight a farm, blends may highlight an entire country or originate from all over the world. Any desirable regional characteristics become muted at best.
An advantage that blends have over Single Origin Coffee is consistency. Because a blend includes several different coffee beans, there is access to a consistent flavor for a longer time. Lots of blends are offered year round and because there are several crops in the blend, defects are more easily hidden.
Unlike the sharp flavor profiles of Single Origin coffee, blends tend to be softer. Their flavor is more balanced due to the mixing of many origins. For some this is desirable. A blend can dilute more harsher flavors of a Single Origin Coffee, such as the acidity.
Low Quality Often Hidden by Other Beans
When done right, the scientific combination of a blend can create a stunning coffee. Unfortunately the vast majority of blends hide defects. Better beans are often mixed with subpar beans that leads to a marginal coffee. A lot of coffee found in grocery stores falls under the category of marginal coffee due to blending.
Some Specialty Coffee suppliers have perfected the art of the blend and offer great coffees. Because the flavors are more muted in a blend, sometimes it can be hard to differentiate as easily as you can with Single Origin Coffees.
Which is Best: Single Origin or Blended?
The answer is: “It depends on what you like best!” The beautiful thing about coffee is its diversity. The following may help you determine which you want to try first:
- If you are interested in comparing the unique characteristics and flavors of coffees from around the world, Single Origin Coffees will be ideal.
- If you want to find a solid coffee with consistent flavor that you can enjoy all year, a specialty blend may be best.
- If you are curious about the more vibrant flavors of coffee, such as citrus, blueberry, or praline, Single Origin Coffee will provide a more common avenue to pursue these flavors.
- If you are new to brewing coffee and want a cordial coffee that is predictable, which will give you a better platform for refining your blending skills, start with a blend.
The best idea is to try both!