Why Single Origin Coffee Beans are Expensive

If you’ve ever bought coffee from a trendy cafe you may have seen the words single origin coffee on the menu. Well these words aren’t just buzz words for coffee snobs like myself.

Single origin beans are coffee beans that come from a single producer, crop, or region and are usually higher quality because there is accountability for who grew the beans.

Accountability is the glue that ties commitment to the result.

Bob Proctor, author

On the other hand, beans that are not single origin are usually blends. Blended coffee includes multiple different types of beans that can be grown by different farms from different places around the world.

Most of the coffee produced and supplied to consumers year round are blended beans. Many single origin beans are not available year round because the coffee beans are only available during certain seasons throughout the year.

Beans for brands such as Dunkin Donuts, Starbucks, and many other chain cafes have to use blended coffees to provide a consistent product year round. If they tried to use single origin coffees they would have to change their beans and how they supply their locations every season which would not be possible.

Why single origin coffee CAN taste better than blended coffee

I want to start off by saying that blended coffee is not better than single origin coffee and single origin coffee is not necessarily better than blended coffee.

Much like wines with blends and varietals, there is no clear winner. In some blends, there can be a flavor that can elevate the blend to greater than the sum of the two different beans. Some of the world’s greatest coffee has a hint of a second variety.

However, due to the nature of single origin coffee and how it can be traced to a single location and a single farm you can get distinct flavors from the specific variety of the coffee. So if you find a flavor that you really enjoy and you can pinpoint the region that makes coffee that fits your preferred flavors you can consistently find unique coffee that you love by buying single origin beans from that location.

The flavors of each coffee bean can be affected by a lot of things based on region and as a result, can be roasted in different ways to highlight the particular flavors that the region is known for. Things like the botanical variety of the bean, the soil, the climate, the altitude, and the natural fauna growing around the coffee plant can have an impact on the flavor of the end product and beans that you eventually brew.

This is why we prefer lighter roasts when tasting single origin coffee beans. The lighter roasts can highlight the flavors inherent to the bean and less of the dark chocolate flavors that come out when roasting a coffee darker.

When single origin coffee is better than blended coffee

The advantage of single origin coffee is that it comes from a single lot. So why is that an advantage you may ask?

Blends will rarely use expensive high quality beans in a blend because the flavor will be masked by the other beans in the blend. Also because blends are usually marketed and sold at the $10 – $12 price point it will be hard to justify selling a blend with high quality beans.

As a result of this, blends usually stay away from the exotic CoE winning beans. The best way to experience these coffee beans is to buy single origin and spend a bit more money up to $25 for something special or even up to $50+ for an award winning lot.

Another reason to try single origin is that blends usually try to target a single flavor profile that they can consistently achieve. This is because consumers expect a particular taste when buying coffee from a retailer, and this taste is usually a dark and burnt tasting cup of coffee.

Cafes and coffee shops are forced to create this taste to keep the customers happy so they purchase the same beans over and over and never give small farms of other single origin beans a try. The only way to get a unique and new experience and taste how coffee is supposed to taste is to buy single origin beans.

However, this also means there is less demand for these single origin beans because retailers, roasters, cafes, and coffee shops only purchase beans to blend in bulk and single origin beans are more of a risk to them. What if their customers don’t like the taste? This makes single origin beans more expensive because they cannot be blended and there are no economies of scale.

Is there a best single origin coffee bean

This is the best part of coffee, there are no “best” coffee beans. It is just what you prefer and once you find a farm or region that produces coffee that you consistently like, then that region is the best single origin coffee bean for you!

However, this only applies if you enjoy the flavor of your coffee and not if you enjoy adding tons of milk and sugar to your brew. If you do this, you may prefer a consistent blend that is dark roasted.

I would think the best single origin coffee should be enjoyed black. The most famous locations for single origin coffee are:

  • Ethiopia
  • Tanzania
  • Hawaii
  • Nicaragua
  • Sumatra
  • Kenya
  • Guatemala
  • Peru

You can’t go wrong with any of these regions when looking for tasty single origin coffee beans.

When looking for single origin coffee beans to purchase you can look for the exact farms that they come from. Sometimes these farms can’t supply enough coffee beans by themselves to export so you can find cooperatives too.

These beans come in micro and nano lots that you can choose which batch of coffee beans you purchase and you can find some of the best coffee this way.

Due to the nature of coffee beans and when there are available, these beans will not be for sale all the time and it will be best to purchase single origin beans during peak coffee season during early summer into fall.

How to tell if your coffee is single origin

If you are buying your coffee beans and you can see exactly the farm name and region that your coffee is coming from then it is most likely single origin coffee. However, if the beans just say medium roast and don’t give any indication where the coffee is from it is most likely a blend.

Single origin beans also usually proudly present the fact that they are single origin beans.

Keep this tip in mind the next time you go shopping for a bag of coffee.

Conclusion

Single origin beans may be more expensive than their blended counterparts, but they provide a different experience.

With single origin beans, you will be able to taste and compare all the unique tastes and qualities of coffee grown all around the world.

If you are curious about how coffee can taste unique and different then you will be interested in single origin coffee.

Your mind will be blown when you taste single origin varieties that taste like blueberries, strawberries, cane sugar, and much more!

Discover the unique flavors of coffee by diving into your single origin coffee journey today!

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