What Do Coffee Farmers Say About Single Origin?
Now that we’ve heard all the theory of single origins, what do coffee farmers themselves say about these coffees?
Today’s coffee farmers, particularly those focused on specialty and single origins, take immense pride in the quality of their coffee. They care about the end result in the cup and how that translates to the consumer. As Andres Salaverria of Jasal Cafe in El Salvador puts it, “Single origin coffees allow the consumer to understand a specific coffee or profile in its own right… It’s also a great way to show consumers what’s behind a specific coffee and the love and passion each producer puts into its production.”
現在的咖啡農，特別是著重在精品及單品咖啡的咖啡農，非常自豪他們咖啡的品質，他們在乎最後呈現在杯中的風味，且可以反映給消費者的品質。薩爾瓦多Jasal Café的Andres Salaverria說：「單品咖啡農有義務讓消費者了解精品咖啡的面貌或是輪廓…，也是向消費者展示這些咖啡農，如何付出心血在他們種植的咖啡上。
Cesar Magana, farmer-barista-roaster at Lechuza Cafe in El Salvador, runs three small farms focusing primarily on pacamara varietals (a hybrid created in El Salvador that’s well-known for its floral notes, sweetness, and round body). Magana believes that consumers want to drink the best coffee available, which means they rely on direct trade between farmer and sourcing from origin. He says, “If they understand the quality of the product, it guarantees sustainability for everyone making extra efforts in every step of the coffee-making chain. The barista or roaster should be able to give first hand information about the farmer and the farm; to me, that’s beautiful and that’s why single origin matters.”
So there you go – coffee farmers approve of single origins as a process for increasing transparency around coffee.
Cesar Magana在薩爾瓦多開了Lechuza Café，並身兼咖啡農、咖啡師及烘豆師，為了帕卡瑪拉種咖啡跑了三個小型莊園(帕卡瑪拉是薩爾瓦多培育出的混種，知名於其花香風味、甜感及圓潤滑順的醇厚度)。Magana相信消費者想喝最好的咖啡，這代表他們必須依靠連結咖啡農與產地資源的直接貿易才能做到。他說：「他們如果知道咖啡的價值，每個人保證會持續更多投入在咖啡供應鏈中。咖啡師或烘豆師應該提供關於農民與莊園的第一手資訊，對我來說，這是美好的畫面，也是單品咖啡的真諦。
What Do Coffee Roasters Say About Single Origin?
Coffee producers like the label single origin, but do coffee roasters? Well, yes and no.
Steve Hall, green bean buyer and head of quality at Caravan Coffee Roasters, says that originally single origin wasn’t an indication of a perceived higher quality; it was only used to differentiate a coffee from a roaster’s house blend. And nowadays, he feels that “for most specialty roasters, single origin does not do the producer and coffee enough justice. These days we’re talking single varietal, single farm, day lots; the possibilities are endless and fascinating.”
Caravan Coffee Roasters的生豆採購人員及品管主任Steve Hall說，一開始單品咖啡不是為了追求高品質，它只是為了在咖啡館中跟烘豆師的獨家配方豆作區別。現在，它覺得大部分的精品豆烘豆師來說，單品咖啡還沒有給予咖啡農及咖啡公平的對待，現在我們一直談論的是單一品種、單一莊園，談也談不完，且越討論越令人著迷。
Does that mean single origin is a bad phrase? Well, for Steve, perhaps inadequate would be more accurate. “Think of a country like Tanzania,” he told me. “It has coastal tropical weather, the snow-capped peak of mount Kilimanjaro, the Nyiri desert, Lake Victoria and the Serengeti. The coffee growing regions border Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya, Uganda, Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of Congo; the taste variations are outstanding! When looking at single origin on this scale, it misrepresents the amazing differences that can be found in coffee, but for lack of a better term, we use the phrase single origin. Over the course of time, it has come to be an indicator of quality; it’s basically your coffee roasters way of saying, ‘Hey, I think this coffee is pretty damn special and I want you to know about it’.”
So… single origin both has a lot of meaning (as we said above) and not enough, but regardless, you can expect an excellent coffee when you see that label.
What Does Single Origin Mean for Coffee Consumers?
We’ve established that single origin coffees are are a good choice (especially if they come with a Cup of Excellence award)… but is that all you should look for?
Jeremy Torz advised me that “more than single origin, single estate is probably the main charge right now. As cafés look to provide something ‘exclusive’, and with many brokers and importers willing to bring over containers loaded with smaller parcels of coffees instead of 300 bags of a single type, roasters can increasingly look to offer named coffees much like wine estates or producers and this would appear to chime with the public interest for enhanced provenance in food and drink in general.” His advice to customers right now is “to ask about post-harvest processing as well as country and roast, as these are the main elements that will help you navigate by flavour as opposed to pure geography.”
So there you have it: single origin is the diving board you use to discover exactly how good those coffees really are.
For consumers trying to decide in a cafe setting, here are some tips fromRoast Ratings co-founder Holly Bastin:
Roast Ratings的合夥創辦人Holly Bastin，有一些建議來幫助消費者解讀咖啡店的菜單：
“With filter, single origin versus blend usually boils down to adventure versus stability, from my experience. If you want your coffee to be your old, reliable, always-unchanging-and-never-out-of-stock variety, then blends are perfect for you. For those that want to constantly explore the flavour merry-go-round that is coffee, single origins can provide a wide variety of options from wild to tame.”
“Similar to filter coffee, in espresso the choice between single origin and a blend is still about stability and adventure – to an extent, but what I would recommend might differ depending on the beverage you are ordering. In espresso, blends are usually developed for one overriding purpose: balancing the flavours. When it comes to milk-based beverages, blends can often be preferable to single origins, as they’re able to provide the solid base of flavours to be expanded on and complemented by the milk. Some single origins can work, especially depending on the ratio of milk to coffee, but the best way to know is to simply ask your barista for their recommendation. If you usually drink straight espresso, I say try anything once!”
Now that you know a little about single origin coffee, what next? It’s OK if you feel slightly intimidated by all this talk of varying geography and microclimates. It’s a big world out there, after all – but by no means does it need to stay this way. Strip away the pretense and let the adventure begin, starting with that next single origin brew. Roasters and farmers alike want to draw you in and help you appreciate their hard work, so don’t be scared to ask questions and provide feedback as you navigate the coffee landscape, one single origin coffee at a time.
Written by A. Pipunic and edited by T. Schrock.
Perfect Daily Grind.