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What is Single Origin, Professionally Speaking
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MarkPrince
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Posted Tue Aug 17, 2010, 11:00pm
Subject: What is Single Origin, Professionally Speaking
 

What is Single Origin
Professionally Speaking article by Dal Anderson

Confused about what Single Origin is? A roaster offers his perspective on what Single Origin was, is, and could be. Includes some history on the development and marketing of Single Origin coffees.
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wogaut
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Posted Wed Aug 18, 2010, 5:02pm
Subject: Re: What is Single Origin, Professionally Speaking
 

Dal,

I enjoyed reading your article very much.
Very systematic about the definitions of SO.
For me personally I do not mind if different roasters have a different definition as long as they are transparent on what they did to the product.

Thanks for that educational review.

Wolfgang
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farmroast
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Posted Wed Aug 18, 2010, 8:53pm
Subject: Re: What is Single Origin, Professionally Speaking
 

In reality, When looking for a top coffee, I see a listing on a web site. Single origin is good enough as a category to first choose from. After that I want a detailed story on a selection.  Tom at SM does a very good job with his greens listings. I also like George Howells info box including soil type, rainfall etc. This does build a better terroir understanding of a coffee. And yes George did very much influence my formative coffee years. I've been big on origin flavors out of soil from 40 years of top competitive farming. This drew me to George's concepts.  I've had a couple in depth chats with George on terroir in coffee and think he is still leading in understandings.
I fear analysis of terms like SO but welcome true transparency and more considerations on details of the best lots.

 
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RobCowles
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Posted Mon Aug 23, 2010, 8:59am
Subject: Re: What is Single Origin, Professionally Speaking
 

Hi Dal,

Appreciate the interesting article - thank you! Perhaps I am over-simplifying it, but my feeling is that  - to promote transparency - the term SO should be as intuitive as possible. To me, this means the term should relate only to the origin of the bean, and not its processing, the uniformity of roast profile, style of roast etc. Sure, those are all important aspects that should be disclosed, but why lump them under sub-sets of SO definitions? To me, 'Single Origin' should refer to the origin of the bean, nothing more. Then one has to discuss one farm vs many (how can a large estate be SO and ten adjoining farms that cumulatively equate to far less square meterage not be?)...but that is where it ends.

For example - If a roaster is trying to represent terroir, he may certainly change the profile from crop to crop of the same SO bean. Surely this has nothing to do with the SO status of the bean? Is it not best left a separate issue? A wine maker will describe each vintage differently, even though the grapes may have come from the same vines. The bottle will state a different vintage and perhaps new flavour notes & characteristics...but these are separate issues to where the grapes are from.

To me, the only sub-definitions that should exist under the broader heading of SO are those that relate to geography, as the term SO itself seems to infer. I.e. terms such as Micro-lot and Estate Coffee are important and helpful.

Thank you again!

Rob
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ameza
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Posted Mon Aug 23, 2010, 1:40pm
Subject: Re: What is Single Origin, Professionally Speaking
 

I agree with Rob. Single origin simply means that it is from 1 origin. All of these different treatments of the word single origin are valid to me and interesting in their own right. They are just part of the evolution of creating great coffees. I'm sure new definitions will pop up in the future.

One note I'd like to add regarding single origin espressos - we (Paradise Roasters) started selling single origin espressos back in 2005. We launched and entire line of single origin espressos in 2006 and trademarked them as "S.O. Espresso". While I'm sure someone may have been selling single origin espresso before us, I am unaware of any other company marketing them as such at the time.
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MarkPrince
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Posted Mon Aug 23, 2010, 2:43pm
Subject: Re: What is Single Origin, Professionally Speaking
 

Too late (after the article was submitted and edited), I wanted to get Dal to mention Paradise Roasters, because I do remember the Single Origin espresso roasts from 2005. After the article was published, I asked him if he knew about Paradise and he did not, so I meant to come in to the thread and talk up other roasters and green bean suppliers, including Paradise Roasters, Sweet Marias, Barefoot Coffee (they've done some interesting education on SOs with their partnership with Eddie's farm) and a bit more of my own personal history with George.

I also mentioned this article to Aida, and she enjoyed reading it. I'm hoping she'll chime in in the forum comments soon!

Mark

 
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cerridwyn
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Posted Wed Aug 25, 2010, 6:04pm
Subject: Re: What is Single Origin, Professionally Speaking
 

Thank you for a well done article.

I was introduced to what was called by the roaster - estate coffee, back in the middle to late 1990s. The company, whose name I cannot remember, did not last very long, less than a year. I learned from them that I liked coffee's from some parts of the world better than I did others and much better than the traditionally available blends. I searched after they folded for somewhere I could get anything close, never finding it for a very long time.

It was when I also first started to understand that coffee grown by one grower in an area might be different from another. I already knew I preferred Gavina, for example (if you do not know it is a commercial coffee that used to be very commonly carried by independent coffee places) to Starblechs.

I also agree with Rob. While I am not a professional, just a coffee lover, origin means just that - origin. Whether that origin is the farm/estate, the country or the region. How  it is dried and roasted is another factor that should be taken into consideration but it is not the same as origin.

 
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GHHowell
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Posted Sat Aug 28, 2010, 10:52am
Subject: Re: What is Single Origin, Professionally Speaking
 

It is great to see so much interest on single origin!  Excellent discussion!

I agree with those who want to keep it simple.  The term single origin has been used for as long as I can remember, intuitively so.  It always simply meant from a single country and was in contrast to the prevailing marketing of blends from multiple pretty much always unspecified origins.  The next term would be region, then estate; all of this parallels the wine is traditionally labelled.  Estate would include processing cooperative centers, such as most of the great Kenya coffees.  

It is in our interest to keep our terms simple for the sake of better communication with consumers and between ourselves.
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Coffeemickey
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Posted Tue Feb 15, 2011, 1:51pm
Subject: Re: What is Single Origin, Professionally Speaking
 

I'm not sure what, "Professionally speaking" means, but here's my take on the meanng of Single Origin.  I've been an avid coffee drinker for a good part of my 81 years, and moved to Boquete, Panama about 4 months ago to retire, and to learn about and sample many coffees.  During that time, I've visited 15 or 20 farms, spoken to the owners or managers of most, and spoken to 2 of the presumably well informed Coffee Tour guides.

There was a reasonable amount of agreement on the meaning of Single Origin, as follows:  Single (b)ORIGIN(x) refers to where the coffee comes from, with no regard to how it is roasted or processed.  As such, all coffee from a single farm, as long as that farm doesn't produce different coffee varieties, such as Geisha, are from a single source, therefore qualify as "Single Source Coffee"  If they are blended with coffees from other farms, either before or after roasting, they are no longer Single source.

 
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esperanza1988
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Posted Sun Mar 27, 2011, 10:08pm
Subject: Re: What is Single Origin, Professionally Speaking
 

Hi, thanks for sharing, I used to have the same question!

 
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