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  • Your definition of "Single Origin"

    I have noticed some slight variation in the public & industry definition of "Single Origin". I am curious to see where the the Coffee Snobbers consider that defining point where a coffee can be classified as "Single Origin".

  • #2
    Re: Your definition of "Single Origin"

    I was thinking about this the other day. I have always thought it was from the one Estate but it could also be the same region.

    Could a bean labeled as Dom. Republic Bouqueron Co-op or El Salvador Calderon Co-op (I think I have these names right) be considered SO as they come from several farmers? Or should they be correctly called a pre-roast blend?

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    • #3
      Re: Your definition of "Single Origin"

      Good question...
      Having never thought about all the implications, I had previously considered a single origin to be more or less at the level of which country it came from, eg Brazil, PNG, etc, but now that you raise the issue, there are, or can be,  significant variations in the beans from various regions of one country, and I was probably really thinking provincial level.
      At the provincial level, unless there had been deliberate efforts to mix varieties of cultivar when planting I would be reasonably comfortable with calling that a SO.  

      So now I can go and put a vote in the poll.

      Bullitt

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      • #4
        Re: Your definition of "Single Origin"

        I view (SO) single origin as
        Country first followed by a particular region in that country

        Growing coffee is not like a production line with an expected outcome

        One year to the next could be different due to climate and other growing conditions
        This affects flavour slightly from season to season

        KK

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        • #5
          Re: Your definition of "Single Origin"

          We tend to use the term as referring to a region (or provence) within a country. For the coffee that we have, it also means the one co-operative (but one assumes at co-ops are not spread over larger regions anyway).

          So the coffee we would get is all from a particular regions, some we refer to as SINGLE ORIGIN BLENDS (which have differently processed coffees from the same co-op) or as SINGLE ORIGIN (which are from the same batch) --- but surely the latter definition of single origin could be referred to as a SINGLE ESTATE coffee?

          I would have thought that labelling a blend or single coffee from the same COUNTRY as single origin is a bit vague. It is what Moccona does with there 100% Single Origin Columbia "Reserve" Instant bollocks!

          The value in defining an origin taste from all of Columbia or all of Brazil or all of Vietnam is somewhat useless these days. As Kosmo says, the variations in different parts of the country varies each season. So surely single origin country is just marketing bollocks? No?

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          • #6
            Re: Your definition of "Single Origin"


            (I spliced the poll and thread together)

            I view origin as a fairly generic descriptor for country as in "country of origin" as opposed to anything more specific but agree it is often used to describe a region or a farm.

            A wise coffee farmer once told me:
            "Coffee comes from farms, not from origins"

            He was talking about coffee getting lumped into a country style where in actual fact coffee from just a kilometer away might be grown, processed and farmed entirely differently and be totally different in the cup.

            I know of many coffee estates that produce vastly different coffees so origin is little more than pointer on the globe. For me, its more important to understand how a particular coffee performs in the cup regardless of its provenance.

            In fact, provenance is really the term that origin is used for and can be specific or vauge (planet, hemisphere, country, region, town, farm or row of coffee trees).

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            • #7
              Re: Your definition of "Single Origin"

              I have to agree with you Andy. I would also like to add to the list date of harvest, I currently have samples from 3 neighbouring farms in a region with coffee harvested in 3 seperate fortnights harvests periods. This could also be lot numbers.

              I believe the depth of info on the label depends on the coffee companies level of commitment to consumer education. I used to label estate coffees by country because it was easier than having to explain the label to 100s of customers. If you are interested in the finer details you could always read the descriptions we had.

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              • #8
                Re: Your definition of "Single Origin"

                I think that the currently accepted definition is more or less coffee that is offered to roasters as a distinct lot never containing coffee from more than one country and bearing some identifying name in addition to the country name that is reflective of where it comes from.

                Once you start to scratch the surface, there is a huge amount of variability brought about by, as people have mentioned, the very diverse ways in which coffee farming is structured. For example:

                *At the top end of the scale, some of the Brazilian companies produce more coffee than the entire production of some countries and their coffee is often identified as Brazil Companyname.
                *Farmers pooling their coffee together will generally market their coffee under their cooperative name as Countryname Coopname.
                *Im not too sure, but I have heard that exporters blend coffee together as well to achieve a flavour profile, so that could be called anything.
                *Farmers selling their coffee themselves will use their farm name.
                *Some farmers split up different areas in their farms.

                (Incidentally, one definition of the often-used word "estate" that I have seen in coffee is a farm that processes its own coffee. Under this definition, coffee from a coop is not "estate" coffee. This could be an important point because, as Andy often points out, cooperatives blend the coffee available to them and, so, you would expect it to be mediocre - because the best lots arent kept separate. Thats not to say that coffee from an "estate" is by definition better.)

                In the above examples, I have tried to stick only to names that tell you about where the coffee came from, as thats what the "origin" part of the phrase "single origin" seems to mean. Of course, the identification of the origin of the coffee is often accompanied by additional information, which, strictly speaking, has nothing to do with the origin of the coffee. Whether or not that information is technically part of the meaning of the phrase "single origin" is like asking how many angles fit on the head of a pin - semantics arent going to get us better tasting coffee! Three of these bits of information that I would love to see made available to the public whenever the roaster has them are:
                *cultivar;
                *processing method; and
                *harvest date.

                These bits of information are important if we want people to appreciate that different coffees taste different and that its worthwhile paying more money for better coffee - hopefully with some of it trickling down to the farmer. I know that wine gets trotted out all the time as an analogy, but let me do it again - would it really be possible for good wine to give decent returns to the supply chain participants who put in the most work and (hopefully consequently) produce the best product if wine were only sold as "white" and "red"?

                As is often the case, there is a lot more to explore on this subject, but Ill leave it at that for now ...

                Cheers,

                Luca

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Your definition of "Single Origin"

                  Originally posted by 38213735540 link=1246420042/7#7 date=1246538161
                  "estate" that I have seen in coffee is a farm that processes its own coffee
                  Slightly off topic but I would argue that coffee grown on a single farm would be estate coffee even if they get someone else to mill/process/market it. As long as its kept in its farm-lot and not later blended then it would still be classed as estate coffee.

                  Originally posted by 38213735540 link=1246420042/7#7 date=1246538161
                  Thats not to say that coffee from an "estate" is by definition better.
                  ...but it will have a better known provenance.

                  (just to bring us back on topic)

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                  • #10
                    Re: Your definition of "Single Origin"

                    so do we have to start referring to "single estate", "single co-op" and "single origin" coffee now? damn you snobs, stop educating me. I used to be happy* with instant you know!!!

                    *OK, not really happy, just ignorant bliss...

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                    • #11
                      Re: Your definition of "Single Origin"

                      Single Origin is in some ways meaningless as has been pointed out above. The Aussie MTE coffees are a good example of these, single point of origin but a wide array of flavour profiles.

                      My thinking is that for a bean to be single origin it must satisfy a few basic criteria.

                      Grown in the same general locality and similar conditions be it the same valley/region and or altitude/soil type also from the same type of varietal. That way all of the beans should be of a similar flavour profile if processed the same otherwise it is just a pre roasted blend to arrive at a given profile.

                      The question is then is the term Single Origin misused? In a lot of cases YES.

                      If you like it then drink it regardless of S.O. correctness 8-)

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                      • #12
                        Re: Your definition of "Single Origin"

                        Cant Single Origin just mean "not a blend"?
                        Thats all the average (not coffee snob) would take it to mean and how I explain it to them.

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                        • #13
                          Re: Your definition of "Single Origin"

                          Originally posted by 0539243F353423363E35510 link=1246420042/11#11 date=1246671880
                          Cant Single Origin just mean "not a blend"?
                          Then how do define a blend - Im sure this has been the subject of another thread at sometiume? Beans from different origins mixed together? Then would E. Yirg + E. Harrar + E. Gambella be a blend or SO?

                          I agree with BFs point about how it tastes being all that is important.

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                          • #14
                            Re: Your definition of "Single Origin"

                            Originally posted by 7B716473737C686E1D0 link=1246420042/12#12 date=1246685938
                            Then how do define a blend - Im sure this has been the subject of another thread at sometiume? Beans from different origins mixed together? Then would E. Yirg + E. Harrar + E. Gambella be a blend or SO?
                            Blend.

                            Originally posted by 7B716473737C686E1D0 link=1246420042/12#12 date=1246685938
                            I agree with BFs point about how it tastes being all that is important.
                            Different topic.

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                            • #15
                              Re: Your definition of "Single Origin"

                              Originally posted by 132F3229232235202823470 link=1246420042/13#13 date=1246692919
                              Blend.
                              Sorry - you dont get off that easy. You didnt answer the first part of that question.

                              So El Salvador Calderon Co-op, sold ostensibly as a SO, is actually farm A + farm B + farm c. Blend or SO?

                              By definition from other posts in this thread it is legitimately a SO but by your logic it would be a blend. So what is a blend?

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