These terms are being tossed around in the new wave of specialty coffee, but what do they mean? Besides the obvious difference (single origin coffees come from one origin and blends combine coffees from several origins), it is important to understand what makes each of these types of coffee unique. They can both be enjoyed equally, but they offer different experiences.
Single origin coffees are often light roasted, and can be best enjoyed when brewed as a pour-over or a Chemex. These brewing methods allow the complexity of the coffee’s characteristics to shine through. A cup of a single origin coffee can offer an explosion of flavor with its bright and delicate notes. However, because of the more delicate nature of these coffees, they don’t tend to hold up very well as espresso. One may have the sweetness but lack the acidity or the crema.
That’s why we and many specialty coffee shops use blends for espresso. A roaster will combine specific ratios of coffees from different origins to create a better-rounded, more balanced coffee. That way, the bitterness of one coffee can be balanced by the sweetness of another. This also helps in terms of consistency. By using specific ratios of origins to provide that homey taste of a house blend, or the extra kick of a breakfast blend, roasters can use whatever coffee is on hand and still maintain consistency.
What it all comes down to is preference. For some, the full, homey taste of a house blend may be all they want for their morning routine. For others, interest in different coffee regions and flavor profiles may lead them to keep trying new single origin coffees and to venture deeper into the world of coffee.
– Jackie Heider, Springboro DLM