What Is Single Origin Coffee And How Is It Different?

Are you wondering what single origin coffee is? It’s not just a trendy buzzword.

If you’ve been to a specialty coffee shop in recent years, you’ve almost certainly encountered single origin coffee. A friendly barista may have even persuaded you to pay extra for it. But what does it actually mean?

Single origin coffee is an exciting brew with plenty to teach you about growing regions, flavor profiles, and the coffee industry. 

This article covers everything you need to know about it. Next time you visit the coffee shop, you’ll know what you’re paying for and why.

What Is Single Origin Coffee?

The term “single origin” means that the beans are all sourced from the same place; they need not be a single varietal. Bean origin matters because factors like the soil type, climate, production, and processing methods shape a coffee’s profile – from aroma to aftertaste.

Single Country

In the broadest classification, all the green coffee beans come from a single country. This was a common definition a few decades ago, but today, it feels outdated – more appropriate for a blend. Most coffee-growing countries have myriad microclimates, producing substantial differences in coffees grown in different regions.

Single Region

Many single origin beans these days come from a particular region, often processed at the same washing station. The soil, climate, and farming traditions are fairly consistent within a region, so the resulting beans are much less diverse than those gathered nationwide.

Farm, Estate, or Co-op

Beans traceable to a single farm or within a cooperative of small farms are a unique product of that particular time and place. They are typically meticulously grown and hand-harvested. This coffee is bound to a particular season and has limited availability, so it’s often more expensive.

Micro-Lot Coffee

Microlot coffee beans come from a particular lot on a single farm. It doesn’t get more exclusive than this! While the term doesn’t guarantee quality coffees, most micro-lots are outstanding because they can’t rely on economies of scale to make a profit.

Why Do People Like Single Origin Coffee?

Many coffee lovers prefer the immersive experience offered by a single origin brew, sometimes regarded as coffee in its purest form (1):

“By their very nature, single origins are ephemeral, limited to just one harvest. Each is a time capsule that begs to be relished until it is gone.”

The flavor profiles of the best single origin coffees are as diverse as the regions and people who produce them. You’ll find bold, chocolatey, full-bodied brews from Sumatra or nutty, fruity, and bright cups from Colombia. The variety and complexity of single origins add to their appeal.


Traceability and transparency are key tenets of Third Wave coffee (2). Modern coffee connoisseurs want to know exactly where their coffee comes from. Not only is this a mark of quality, but it helps promote sustainability and direct trade, which are often sadly lacking in the coffee industry.

Single Origin Vs Blend

Blends combine beans sourced from various locations, mixed before or after roasting. They can come from different regions within the same geographic area or from separate countries.

Coffee roasters create blends to provide consumers with a consistent brew year-round and to balance flavor notes.

Quality blends showcase a roaster’s skill at highlighting the best aspects of different origins, balancing acidity, sweetness, and bitterness in ways no one origin can. 

The worst offenders use blended coffee to hide low-end beans and cut costs, but this practice is much less common today than it once was.

Are single origins better than blends?

I believe both have their time and place. Since single origin coffees are exciting and complex, rare and exotic, each is an exceptional coffee experience worth savoring. On the other hand, a well-balanced blend has a flavor that’s comfortable and easy-drinking. Like many things in coffee, it’s about your specific tastes and needs.

Why are single origin coffees so expensive?

Single origin coffee beans often have limited availability due to geographic constraints and seasonality.

Such scarcity in the sourcing raises prices.

Additionally, the beans are produced with greater care because off flavors can’t be masked with other beans. Producers are paid a premium for their extra labor and high-quality beans – as they should be – and coffee consumers foot the bill.

Final Thoughts

Single origin is coffee from a single source, whether that’s one farm or a region in one country. It’s an exciting aspect of coffee to explore, providing a chance to expand your palate and knowledge of the coffee industry – all while enjoying delicious brews!


Single origin coffee is labeled with its region of origin. Coffee companies take pride in sourcing single-origin coffees and will prominently display that information. If your coffee doesn’t list a country of origin, you can assume it is a blend.

No, single-origin coffee isn’t healthier than a coffee blend, assuming both are equally high-quality Arabica varietals. Both contain approximately the same caffeine and antioxidant content – coffee’s two primary healthy components (3).

You can brew single origin coffee however you prefer. Different origins, roast profiles, and types of beans benefit from different treatments. 

Many fans favor pour overs for light or medium roasts because it highlights their complexity and subtle flavors. But you can just as easily find a fantastic single origin dark roast for espresso or a latte.

  1. Blue Bottle Coffee. (n.d.) Why Do We Source Single Origins? Retrieved from https://blog.bluebottlecoffee.com/posts/why-single-origin-coffee
  2. Guevara, J. (2017, April 10). What Is “Third Wave Coffee”, & How Is It Different to Specialty? Retrieved from https://perfectdailygrind.com/2017/04/what-is-third-wave-coffee-how-is-it-different-to-specialty/
  3. Cleveland Clinic. (2023, February 1). This Should Perk You Up: The Surprising Health Benefits of Coffee. Retrieved from

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