Single origin coffee is a straightforward idea. Right? If you order a cup of Sumatran single origin coffee, you can be sure you’re sipping coffee made from beans produced on the Indonesian island of Sumatra.
Kenton Campbell is well aware that this is only part of the tale.
Campbell, the creator of speciality coffee business Zarraffa’s Coffee, which serves over 70 outlets across QLD, WA, and NSW, believes the phrase “single origin” may refer to both a nation and an area within it.
“Single origin originates from a single origin, such as Kenya or Ethiopia,” Campbell explains. “So that’s the origin, but it may become a little more particular in terms of being a coffee from a specific region. In Kenya, for example, we have Ntongoro coffee from Meru [a town in eastern Kenya]. As a result, one origin becomes even more significant as a definition.”
We asked Campbell to take us on a journey into the complicated world of single origin coffee – and to share five single origin beans that he’s currently savouring.
There is more than one origin. Coffee’s path from farm to cup is as extensive and complicated as wine’s. As a result, it’s useful to conceive of single origin coffee in the same way.
While some commercial coffees are blended from a variety of places, single origin coffee is more akin to estate-grown wine, which is made from grapes produced in a specific area of the estate.
Campbell replies, “You can purchase estate coffee.” “It’s no different from estate wine.” You could find an estate with one hillside that has been ‘cupped’ [tasted] and [from which] just five or ten bags of 60kg beans are produced since the year is exceptional.” Meanwhile, the remainder of the on-site beans are transported out to be mixed with other beans.
Quality and a distinct regional flavour Single origin coffee, like wine, is a reflection of the terroir of the coffee – its feeling of place and how it impacts flavour and fragrance. The details of single origin coffee will be influenced by factors such as altitude, plant type, farming techniques, and climate.