J&A Report: Regional Focus: Why Single-Origin Coffee Matters

Specialty coffees have been on the rise for coffee connoisseurs. This trend has boosted general knowledge and enthusiasm for single-origin coffees. In this report, J&A briefly provides an introduction of single-origin coffee, outlines the differences in flavor profiles by region, compares single-origin with blended or mixed coffees, and lays out overall trends.

What Is Single-Origin Coffee?

Single-origin coffee comes from a single producer, crop, or region in one country. Single-origin coffee is often called single-farm, single-estate, single-malt, or single-vineyard coffee. Coffees that are not single-origin are blends, which include more than one single-origin coffee. Due to the one-time harvest in the year, single-origins are only available during specific times throughout the year.

Because tracing single-origin coffee leads to a single place, they have a distinct flavor based on the process from growth to processing of the region. Many factors influence flavors including botanical variety, soil, climate, altitude, and shade. Processing methods also vary by region and influence the final taste.

FIGURE 1: Coffee Flavor Profiles Along the Coffee Bean Belt

Single-Origins Versus Blends

Blends are a mix of two or more single-origin coffees from different regions. As such, the tastes vary, and the origin is not as distinguishable. Blends are more flexible in the market but cannot be sold at the same price or compete against single-origin coffees in niche markets. Blends are usually cheaper and found most commonly.

Single-Origins Coffee Taste

Single-origin coffees taste different than blends in the market. Light roasting single-origin coffee develops subtle aromas and distinct tasting notes. The body is more tea-like, and the flavors are fruity and citric rather than nutty or chocolaty.

Single-Origin Coffee Popularity

  • In the first half of 2019, the single-origin coffee market resulted in $182 million in grocery sales.
  • In 2020, these sales grew by 4%, outpacing the total premium coffee segment.
  • Among coffee drinkers between the ages of 25 and 49, 81% are willing to pay 10% more for single-origin coffees, incurring financial rewards for the many smallholder farmers who provide 80% of the world’s coffee beans.

The rising amount of cafés offering alternative brew methods has influenced the current interest in single-origin coffee. Single-origins are particularly popular because of their traceability. The impact of single-origins affects farming methods, and specialty farmers are developing and improving high-quality crops in response to demand. Some farms and processing plants experiment with their varietals or cultivars selection, control over the growth stage, harvesting time and technique, and the milling and processing method.

Outlook for Single-Origin Coffee Moving Forward

This report outlined what specialty single-origin coffee is and what specifics categorize a coffee as such. The difference in atmosphere and preferred processing methods within regions produce many flavors, making single-origin coffees a niche market for coffee connoisseurs. Blends are a mixture of various single-origin coffees that are indistinct from a specific region’s flavor profile. The rising sales and marketing trends for specialty coffees boosted the market for single-origins by 4% in 2020. J&A expects this trend to maintain as the coffee industry raises awareness for farm owners and consciousness towards processing methods.

Source: Counter Culture Coffee, MyRecipes, Perfect Daily Grind, Tripe Pundit, and Forbes