June 14, 2023 3 min read
“What’s better, single origins or blends?”. Probably the most asked question in specialty coffee. Read on to find out whether one is truly better than the other, plus some recommendations for your next brew!
The specialty coffee industry prides itself on sourcing the finest coffees from around the world. The general principle of paying premium prices to producers, ensures that they can earn a decent living. It also allows for reinvestment into technologies and techniques to improve their crops year on year. Purveyors of specialty coffee understand these fundamentals, which makes this such a unique industry.
For numerous years the term “Single Origin” has been heralded as the gold standard in coffee. But what does the term mean? Well, technically a single origin is literally just that. A coffee from a single source of origin. But then we ask the question, well what is an origin? Is it a country? A region? A particular farm in a region? Unfortunately, there isn’t an official definition, so naturally the phrase has been used liberally across the coffee industry. Thankfully, most specialty coffee companies have longstanding relationships with their coffee producers, and traceability of every coffee is documented, down to individual lots in some cases.
This is where the phrase single origin really comes into its own. Having the ability to buy coffee that was grown on a particular plot, on a particular farm, that is totally unique, is a fantastic experience. Single origin coffees are highly revered, and often command very high prices. Some may baulk at the high price tag of single origins, and that may be worthy of further discussion. Overall, most specialty coffee drinkers understand the value in paying a premium to experience the delightful notes and aromas of a rare single origin coffee.
So where do coffee blends fall into the mix? Are they inferior? Should you bother? Let's dispel some myths. The consensus for a long time, was that coffee blends were just a concoction of cheaper beans. Cobbled together to sell off coffees that weren’t desirable.
This couldn’t be further from the truth. Most specialty roasters now carry their own line of coffee blends. Far from just chucking any old beans together, time and effort is spent pairing varieties to create unique profiles. Here at Altitude Coffee London, our coffee blends have won multiple accolades at “The Great Taste Awards” overseen by The Guild of Fine Food. Our approach is to roast each blend component individually and combine them post roast. This enables us to roast each coffee to its full potential. Different varieties and processing methods require a varied approach when roasting. Many other specialty roasters follow the same principles, and we’ll highlight some of our current recommendations below.
So, what’s better? The short answer is neither! Single origins and coffee blends both have their place. Single origins are great for those wanting to sample different taste notes in their cup. Blends are great for those who want to find a great tasting coffee and love the ease of repeatability. Either way, if the coffee you buy comes from a reputable specialty roaster, you can be assured that you are buying fantastic coffee.
Check out some of our current recommendations below. This list may change over time depending on availability from the roaster.
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