What do these three things have in common? Salad greens bought at the Trout Lake farmers market, a bottle of Blind Trust Red from Laughing Stock Vineyards in the Okanagan, and Etico Guatemalan Dark coffee.
What is Single Origin coffee?
OK, since this is a coffee blog, it's got to have something to do with the coffee, right? Of course it does, but what they all have in common is that we know exactly where they're from. Those salad greens were grown at Hannah Brook Farm in Burnaby, Laughing Stock's grapes are grown in the Naramata Bench north of Penticton, and the Café Etico coffee beans come from a farmer-owned cooperative in the Atitlan Highlands of Guatemala – this is what's known as a single-origin coffee.
How location affects flavour
For coffee lovers, discovering the unique and distinctive flavour of a coffee from a specific place is similar to the wine experience of terroir – that the climate, soil and growing conditions impart particularly distinctive characteristics. And with coffee, the production and processing methods also come into play and shape the aroma and flavour of the tasting experience.
How direct trade drives coffee quality
The ability to source and buy single origins has come about, thanks in no small part, to importers and roasters. They expanded the free trade and direct trade movement and developed relationships directly with the coffee farmers and cooperatives in most of the world's coffee-growing regions.
Some of those importers are now specializing even further, sourcing coffee from single farms and single estates, meaning that the beans can be traced to the specific hillside where they grow protected from the harsh sun under a canopy of tropical shade trees. For those of us who relish the opportunity to expand our coffee tasting palate and for forward-thinking cafés willing to introduce exclusive coffees to their menu, it's an exciting development.
The Single Origin coffees we love
Back to that Café Etico Guatemalan Dark – the coffee beans are bought directly from a farmer-owned cooperative in the Atitlan region, known for its rich volcanic soil. Café Etico is a wonderful local non-profit with 100% of its profits supporting human rights in Latin America.
Another of our local roasters, Smoking Gun, utilizes direct trade relationships with small farms. Their single origin Honduras Comayagua comes from the red clay soil in the country's south-central region.
Notch Coffee Roasters sources their Ethiopia Guji Highlands from a single farm of 150 acres that sits under the dense canopy of an ancient forest.
These are just a few examples of single origins we carry at Roaster Central; you can see the full single origin coffee lineup here.