Like the craft beer scene here in Australia over the past 5-10 years, craft coffee is also growing hugely in popularity. Many customers in our café here at Bay Coffee in Sydney often ask us the difference between single-origin coffee and coffee blends. Given that we get asked so often about this from both wholesale coffee customers and end users, we thought why not write an article about the differences between the two!
Single-origin coffee is essentially exactly as it sounds, the beans come from just one region or country, in fact many are harvested from the same coffee farm or estate. By virtue of the fact that they are sourced from just one place, single-origin coffees tend to be exclusively available at certain times of the year. Just like fruit and wine, they are heavily reliant on the weather conditions during the growing season of the geographical location from which they’re derived. Good single-origin beans will have a distinctive flavour based on the are where they’re grown and how they are processed. These flavours are heavily influenced by the soil, climate, altitude and shade levels amongst other factors.
Again, coffee blends are quite self-explanatory; they’re made up of different coffee bean crops. Sometimes blends are made up of coffees from around the world, for example Indonesian beans may be mixed with Ethiopian or Brazilian beans. Blends can also be regional blends, for example northern and southern Colombian beans may be blended together. The original coffee blend is the Mocha-Java blend with the Mocha beans originating in Yemen being paired with the Indonesian-grown Java beans. These were combined primarily as they were the only two commercially traded coffees at that time.
Which is better?
As you may have expected, there is no winner or loser here. They are different to each other for a wide number of reasons and your favourite will depend on your individual coffee preference. However below are some points which may help with your next coffee order:
● Due to single-origins being so heavily at the mercy of the growing conditions, a solid blend is a better option for someone who wants a well-rounded coffee which is reliably consistent and can be purchased for the most part of the year. This allows a roaster to add or remove beans which may be in or out of season to maintain the same taste profile
● If your palette craves the unique tastes and characteristics of coffees from every corner of the world then a single-origin coffee is ideal for you.
● If you’re a novice coffee brewer and want a coffee which won’t offer too many surprises or upsets so you can work on your craft then opt for a blend.
● Continuing on the uniqueness vein, if you’re curious about diverse and vibrant coffee flavours, for example jasmine, strawberry or cane sugar, single origins are more likely to please than blends.
● Brew method and roast degree also play a huge role in highlighting a particular coffee’s unique characteristics. Roast degree alone varies massively amongst roasters. At Bay we aim to highlight origin characteristics while minimising introduced flavours like roastiness and smoke to coffee. Lighter filter style roasts suit certain brew methods and are ideal to highlight particular single origin characteristics.
Here at Bay Coffee in Neutral Bay, Sydney, we have our own café and micro-roastery. We sell to both wholesale and retail clients Australia-wide. Call, email or drop into us today for a conversation about which beans are right for your individual situation and coffee needs!