Single origin coffee: What is it and why are consumers opting for it?

Consumers now demand a higher level of traceability from their products than ever before. What does this mean for the coffee industry? To learn more, New Food spoke with two independent speciality coffee retailers.

coffee from a single origin
For some time, consumers have placed a premium on traceability. Apart from the nutritional value of the product they are purchasing, shoppers want to know where it was manufactured, how it was transported, and how ethical and sustainable the manufacturing process was.

Certain industries are more accustomed to this increased scrutiny than others – for example, Single Malt Scotch Whisky’s entire value is based on providing consumers with extremely specific traceability information. Coffee is beginning to emulate the whisky industry by marketing an increasing number of products as’single origin’ or’single estate’.

However, what does this actually mean, what is the distinction between the two, and why are these claims being made in the coffee industry?

Individual origin vs. individual estate
To gain a better understanding of the distinction between single origin and single state coffee, we consulted two coffee retailers: Blue Bottle Coffee and Nguyen Coffee Supply.

“There is no official definition of single origin,’ which can create confusion,” explained Shaun Puklavetz, Blue Bottle Coffee’s Coffee Sourcing & Relationship Manager. “In some cases, roasters will market coffees as single origin, sharing only the country of origin; in other cases, roasters will share the exact plot on a specific farm where the coffee was grown. At Blue Bottle, all of the coffees we purchase – including those used in our blends – can be traced back to the co-operative or mill from which they were sourced.

“The term ‘single estate coffee’ is a little more precise. These coffees would originate from a single farm rather than a mill or co-operative. We do not use this term, but we work directly with a number of estates and release coffees that can be traced back to a specific farmer.”

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