What are Single Origin Coffees - Driftaway Coffee

What are Single Origin Coffees?

Updated Feb 20, 2020

Single origin coffees aren’t actually named all that creatively. They’re coffees from one place – a single origin. Unlike blends, single origin coffees let you fully appreciate a specific origin’s characteristics.

Single Origin Coffees are From One Place

Single origin coffees are from one place, but there’s no industry-wide agreement on how large or small the area can be. For instance, single origin may indicate one:

  • region, such as the Yirgacheffe region of Ethiopia
  • co-op or mill, such as the Gitesi Washing Station in Rwanda
  • farm, such as the Finca Buenos Aires estate in Nicaragua
  • lot within a farm
  • micro-lot from a farm

(A micro-lot is a small plot of land with unique conditions that is specially cared for by the people farming it.)

What Single Origin coffees are not

To use a negative definition, single origin coffees are definitely not

  • Blends of two or more coffees.
  • Untraceable to an origin country and region at the very minimum. In many cases, they can also be traced to a washing station, farmer and farm.

What do we consider to be single origin at Driftaway

While more specific and more traceable coffees are great and definitely considered single origin, here is our minimum bar for what we consider to be single origin –

  • Africa – where small holder farms dominate the industry, we consider any coffees from a single washing station that is packaged into a lot to be single origin. This could be a day lot from many small holders, or a single lot from a single farmer or in some cases, coffees packaged and labeled with a product name by the importer who is traveling there to select coffees
  • Central America – in most cases in Central America (Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Rica, El Salvador etc), farms and processing stations are owned by the same farmer. In this case, the farmers (with assistance from importers) will decide what a single origin lot is, and sell it as such.
  • South America – there are lots of large estates and large farms in South America, especially in Brazil. Everything is well organized and the coffee operations of these large farms are usually well-oiled machines. Colombia has a mixed model with similar elements as Central America and Brazil, based on the size of the farm. In the case of large farms, the farmers and estate owners typically decide what a single coffee is, usually based on taste.

There are various exceptions to all these rules and every coffee is different. But we like this general structure, to know how to think about it.

Know Where Your Coffee Comes From

At Driftaway Coffee, we love single-origin coffees; all of our coffees are single-origins. We think knowing where your coffee comes from and being confident the producer was paid fairly and quickly is even more important, though. That’s why we not only strive to roast great coffees, but we also include stories about the farmers and producers who grow and process the coffees we purchase. We respect them as much as we respect you, and we want you to feel connected with them.

Author Suyog

Suyog is one of the founders and resident coffee nerd at Driftaway Coffee. When he's not with coffee, he loves a good business metric to bash or break apart. His current faves are CPC, LTV, AOC

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