Is all coffee created equal?
I thought all coffee was created equal? Isn’t coffee just a means of receiving my morning caffeine boost (and post lunch-coma boost)?
These are questions that I asked myself a few months ago and also embarrassingly asked many coffee experts. Over the course of the past four months of starting Who Is Coffee, I realized how complicated coffee really was. I also realized that origin actually matters...a lot.
Terms like blended coffee, single origin coffee, single-farm coffee and microlot coffee are details to pay attention to when purchasing your daily energizer. Let me explain, in plain English, without industry jargon.
It all comes down to: Quality and Traceability.
In your cup, you could have coffee beans from Colombia, mixed with beans from Brazil, mixed with beans from Panama. The problem with this United Nations of coffee beans, is that you lose quality and flavor. Not to mention that you don’t know how old the coffee is (maybe the Brazil beans are a year older than the Panama beans!) or where it was actually purchased. As a result, these types of coffees are typically roasted darker, in order to create uniformity from the contrasting origins (and in order to hide the variances between tastes). You also won’t get any particular flavor profile from those coffees.
Single Origin Coffee
A step above blended coffee. This means that the coffee beans only come from one country or one region. For example, the beautiful country of Colombia. However, similar problems still exist in terms of quality and traceability, but to a lesser degree. Colombia is a big country! So you could still have beans from one end of the country, mixed with beans from the other, with the same issues as with beans from different countries.
Single Farm Coffee
Now we get to the good stuff! Not only is the quality far superior but you also know exactly where your coffee came from - it comes from just one farm! Your coffee will express the natural flavors of its environment and your taste buds will feel the presence of the banana trees, orange trees and jasmine plants that surround the coffee trees.
The best of the best. Micro-lot coffee is the purest form of coffee. It resembles all the characteristics of single farm coffee but it is given extra special care and attention. Instead of coming from just one farm, it comes from just one lot from that one farm. Buyer beware, once you try your first micro-lot coffee, it will be hard to ever have blended coffee again (it happened to me and I remember exactly where I was, you can read about it here).
(A specialty lot from Alejandro’s Finca Alto Bonito. No cherries to be found on this tree since it was outside of the harvest season unfortunately)
Of course, as the old saying goes in coffee: “the best coffee is the one you prefer”. BUT, if you haven’t had the chance to try a single farm or micro-lot coffee, then you haven’t had the best :)