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Single origin coffee - what is it?

If you’re into coffee, chances are you’ve come across people talking enthusiastically about ‘single origin’ coffees. But what does ‘single origin’ mean and what’s so good about it?

Single origin simply means the coffee comes from a single farm. You might think all coffees come from one farm the same way a tomato you pick up from the supermarket comes from a single vine on a single farm. But actually a lot of the time coffees sold in the UK are blends; a mix of different coffees from different farms.

Single Origin vs Blends

The coffee industry blends coffee for a number of reasons. Sometimes roastmasters like to combine different beans to bring together different characteristics and flavours in a single cup of coffee, like making a cocktail. Other times, coffee retailers will blend together good beans with cheaper, less flavoursome beans like robusta beans to cut costs.

Blending coffees isn’t a bad thing and can be done to great effect. In fact, Pact always has an espresso blend on the menu, which is designed to taste great when brewed through an espresso machine. Generally though, single origin coffees are a sure bet because you know anyone touting their coffee as single origin will be proud enough of its flavours to supply it unedited.

Getting to know coffee

There’s also a certain pleasure in exploring different kinds of single origin coffees, which typically come with information on the growing conditions. It gives you the chance to see how things like altitude, the processing method and crop type combine to produce its flavour.

The tastes in coffees are as complex and diverse as those in the world of wine and single origin coffees are a great way of getting to understand the connections between taste and the different ways coffees are grown all around the world.