The concept of Single Origin coffees has been the major factor driving the growth and evolution of Specialty Coffee around the world.
Single Origin coffee has become very popular in the last few years as coffee lovers seek to educate themselves on the various nuances of different beans. Carlini Coffee Company have been roasting Single Origin coffees since before the dramatic rise in demand and we are well placed as one of the most experienced in Australia at this type of roasting.
Single Origin typically refers to coffee from a country – however, a more meaningful description is to refer it to coffee that was roasted from a single source of coffee beans – showcasing the characteristics of that bean varietal, processing method and origin.
Take Ethiopia as an example. It is the spiritual birthplace of coffee and there are 5 very distinct types (sometimes also referred to as regions) of coffee produced in Ethiopia – Yirgachaffe, Sidamo, Limu, Harrar and Djimmah. You also have to consider that there are washed and unwashed varietals in most of these varietal types. An Ethiopian Harrar looks and tastes very different to a Yirgachaffe – they are also roasted quite differently, especially when you may consider the roasting of a washed Yirgacheffe to a natural Harrar -the bean densities and moisture levels are dramatically different.
When you think about Single Origin coffee beans as a term, it means the coffee bean has been sourced from one country. However, this definition can be somewhat broad or “generic” as there will be considerable differences in the beans within an origin, particularly as we see farms starting to focus on certain varietals and processing types – we think it is perhaps better to state that Single Origin coffee has not been mixed or blended by the farm, the Co-Op, exporter, importer or roaster. In other words, a pure definition for Single Origin coffee is to trace the raw coffee to a unique lot number that identifies the source of the coffee.
It is important to note that many coffees available in the commercial and specialty market may have undergone some form of origin blending.
Unfortunately, this occurs for a large majority of coffees as farms are typically small in size, ranging from 0.5 hectares up to 5-50 hectares. In many regions, it is quite common to have a high number of small farms. As an example Colombia have more than 4,000 farms of only small to moderate size. As such, it can be a normal practice for a Co-Op to source, process and then mix green beans )or even cherries if it has not been processed) from various farms into a single label. In other cases, it may be that many farms cannot afford a processing plant and therefore a local area broker will purchase and process their harvested cherries.
Generally speaking, the blending of the raw green beans at origin may be performed for a few reasons –
- to achieve greater consistency in set volumes so that shipments are more uniform and predictable when comparing bag to bag, pallet to pallet, container to container. For most coffee roasters, this consistency is extremely important
- Exporters may need to blend in order to meet grading requirements or create coffees of a certain specification for a buyer (importer).
- farms may grow many varietals across their plantations as this practice helps reduce the risks of pest attacks as some varietals are more resilient.
At Carlini Coffee Company, we predominantly purchase estate and micro lots from many origins. These are coffees from a sole farm that can be identified or traced and they have not been subjected to origin blending, or in the rare cases where the estate has blended, it is a blend of beans from the same estate, but perhaps a different varietal.
For us, this ensures we always achieve higher quality and consistency in our cup.
UPS and DOWNS
The journey of Single Origin coffees can be a rollercoaster for the coffee drinker – the most amazing highs can be tempered with bland, ordinary lows. This is not specifically a fault or failure of the single origin coffee, but in those cases where it does not suit it is because of individual preferences.
As an example, our Monsoon Malabar AA has a huge cult following among our customers base. Those customers that like it cannot drink anything else and the repeat order religiously. However, there are other customers who cannot stand the smell or taste of the mighty Monsoon Malabar AA. One persons pleasure is another persons poison.
Embracing Single Origin coffees can result in wins and losses as certain coffees will not always appeal to the broad majority of end consumers.
Another example is a bright, crisp, acidic Costa Rica with delightful stone fruit notes may not suit a coffee drinker wanting deep, dark, creamy caramel and nut. Likewise, a sweet, fruit, wine and berry Ethiopian may not suit a person who prefers a syrupy Sumatran.
It is impossible to tell a person they will like a specific single origin coffee if they have not adequately described their preferences.
If you may have enjoyed an Ethiopia Sidamo at one time, it does not automatically mean you would enjoy every Sidamo. An unwashed Sidamo may be way too fruity, fermented and sickly sweet compared to a washed Sidamo – the possible combinations can be extensive.
It’s important to point our that one coffee origin is not superior or better than another origin. Remembering that coffee is a crop that is subject to the farming and processing conditions, then transported in hot containers for up to 2 months at a time and stored in warehouses before being roasted, it is vital to treat all coffees with an open mind and accept there will be differences from one period to another.
WHY OUR SINGLE ORIGINS ARE BETTER
Carlini Coffee have developed a substantial body of knowledge and experience in extracting the absolute best result from any given origin and bean type.
Roasters who predominantly work with blends can’t always deal with the challenging high changeover of roasting styles required for preparing single origins – they find it difficult to manage their roasting equipment to compensate for the different screen size, moisture levels and bean densities presented when rotating origins.
It’s like a golfer playing an entirely new course every day – it takes time and effort to get used to the environment. At Carlini Coffee Company, we have mastered the challenge of constant diversity from rotating origins as we roast more than 60 different coffees each week – every week.
We roast Single Origins to a defined point (roast depth) that ensures the fruit and character of the bean is preserved whilst at the same time there has been sufficient sugar and oil development. This is a very delicate balance to achieve – under roasting causes sourness and acidic results, whilst over-roasting causes homogeneous, baked flavors without the intrinsic flavors and notes as they have been lost up the chimney.