Coffee Basics 101: Blends vs. Single Origin

Wednesday, 19 September, 2018

Seen as a lifestyle by most, the coffee consumption market has constantly updated itself with new buzzwords.

One of the more common words tossed between people has been origin. Origin is a term used in the coffee world to denote the country of origin from where particular coffee beans have been sourced. Roasters are selective in the beans they source as each origin creates a unique coffee product with distinctive flavour  profiles. The Coffee Product created may either be,

  • Blend Roast  
  • Single Origin Roast

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Before We Begin... What Are The Main Types of Coffee Beans?

 

Blends and Single Origin: What’s the Difference?

Blend 

Coffee blends are essentially when coffee beans from multiple locations are roasted and mixed together. Taking advantage of the various characteristics found in different coffee beans throughout the world, blending creates complimenting flavour profiles. A common case for coffee roasters is to pair a bright, exotic coffee with a deeper noted bean which is why most blends are dark roasted!  

This process sounds like quite a task, so why exactly do coffee roasters bother?  

Our barista Christopher James explains the benefits of blended coffee: 

  • Balance and Consistency: Blending coffee produces a well rounded coffee because once other coffee origins are introduced, weaker areas of the base coffee are strengthened  
  • Complexity: Mixing a variety of elements from different sources offers the ultimate complex and rare yet smooth flavour profile.  For example, a coffee with good mouthfeel (eg Brazil) is no good without aroma (Papuan New Guinea) or aftertaste (Mexican Altura).

There is nothing better than an espresso with mouthfeel, aroma, aftertaste, good crema, acidity and smoothness but not bitterness. 

 

Common flavour profiles: 

  • Chocolate 
  • Caramel 
  • Nuts 
  • Honey 
  • Hints of Fruit

 

Popular blended coffees:

Ethiopia + Sumatra  

  • The exotic fruity aromas of the Ethiopian coffee blend into the earthy, spice, and woody notes of the Sumatran.  
  • The result is a low-acidity blend with a full body and complex contrast between fruity and earthy notes. 

Guatemala + Kenya + Mexico 

  • The bright acidity of the Guatemalan pairs perfectly with the floral aromas of the Kenyan.  
  • When the earthy, full-bodied Mexican bean is added, the blend turns into a well-rounded symphony of bright flavours, smooth flavours, and deep flavours. 

 

 

Single Origin 

Single origin simply means that the coffee beans from one region/country only. Since they are sourced from one place only, single origin coffees tend to be available exclusively at certain times of the year, depending on the growing season of the location. Single origin roasts are typically appreciated by coffee “aficionados” who love tasting a particular flavour from a specific region in the world. They are also often available as: 

  • Espresso Roast 
  • Filter Roast  

According to Christopher James, flavour density and clarity remain as key contributors to the growing appeal of single origin coffee. They also create a more personal coffee experience as drinkers can pinpoint the exact location where the beans came from which allows them to appreciate the finer nuances of the taste (purists suggest that this is the only way to fully appreciate the true nature of each individual coffee).

Common flavour profiles: 

  • Fruity  
  • Floral  
  • Spicy 
  • Bright 
  • Light Body  
  • Light Mouthfeel 

 

Popular single origin coffees:  

  • Guatemala — Bright red apple-like acidity, a smooth chocolate flavour, mild floral aromas, and a pleasant honey sweetness. 
  • Sumatra, Indonesia — Mild citrus tang, a pleasant earthy flavour, refreshing pine aromas, and a gentle molasses sweetness. 
  • Ethiopia — Gentle lime-like acidity, a mild fruity flavour, intense blueberry aromas, and a satisfying fruity sweetness 
  • Peru — Crisp hibiscus acidity, a gentle fruity flavour, rich floral aromas, and a pleasant fruity sweetness