Coffee 101: The Difference Between Single Origins and Blends - Ember Coffee Co.

Coffee 101: The Difference Between Single Origins and Blends

Single origin coffee is coffee from a single source that emphasizes the subtle flavors of that region. Blends emphasize a specific flavor profile. To achieve the desired flavor profile, roasters combine multiple single origin coffees. We break down the details below, bringing our experience as a small-scale Minnesota coffee roaster to the table.

What does it mean when a coffee is named after a country's region? Or what exactly is a coffee blend? Ember Coffee is located here in Big Lake, MN, to help you sort through the differences between single origin and blended coffees, which is better, and which is best for you.

What exactly is single origin coffee?

We define single origin coffee as beans from a single source, such as a farm or even a lot within that farm, and from a single harvest. It could even be as specific as a single coffee varietal processed in a single way. The goal of single origin coffee is to highlight the nuance created by mother nature through terroir—the location, the weather, and the soil.

As a boutique roaster in Minnesota, right here in Big Lake actually, we embrace the variability of single origin coffees, which will never taste the same year after year. You’re tasting a singular place and a moment in time, which is what makes single origin coffees so special.

What exactly is coffee traceability?

As a small but passionate Minnesota coffee roaster, we understand that coffee traceability has become vital for specialty-grade coffee roasters and their customers. Traceable coffee contains detailed information about where and how the coffee was grown, processed, and how much each person was paid along the way. This transparency promotes equitability and sustainability, as well as education about how all aspects of coffee's life affect flavor.

What is the difference between single origin and blends?

Blends highlight a specific flavor profile, whereas single origin coffees highlight the nuance of a region. Blends are designed to provide flavor consistency for those who want their coffee to taste the same in every cup. As an example, we, as a local air roaster in Big Lake, MN, might make a dark roast coffee with a flavor profile of baking spices and chocolate. We'll find several single origin coffees that, when combined, will produce that profile. This means that coffee blends can be made available all year, offering a reliable taste experience.

Which is superior: single origin coffee or blended coffee?

When deciding between a single origin and a coffee blend, start with what you want in your cup of coffee. From our small corner in Big Lake, MN, we've observed that coffee blends often provide a well-balanced cup that has been carefully crafted by the roaster. Single-origin coffees are more daring, adventurous, and complex. You'll be able to taste the full flavor spectrum of coffee by exploring regions, varietals, and processing techniques. These coffees are frequently enhanced by manual brewing methods such as pour overs.

What characteristics distinguish a good single origin?

From our experience as a boutique roaster in Minnesota, we believe the coffee roaster's role is to bring out the flavor that is already present in the bean, not to add anything else. The flavor of the bean tells a story about the plant's life—the rain, soil fertilization, elevation, sunlight, and temperature. And that story reflects how well the farmer cared for it. When choosing a single origin coffee, look for these stories. The roaster's and producer's attention to detail will be reflected in the beans.

What characteristics distinguish a good coffee blend?

Creating a blend is an art of balance. In our work with air roasting in Minnesota, we aim to balance the body, acidity, and flavor profile of the coffee components. A well-crafted blend will have body and complexity, with each component complementing the others. These characteristics should be present regardless of whether the blend is designed to be brighter and fruitier or darker with chocolate and nutty undertones.

Why do coffee roasters create coffee blends?

In our experience at Ember Coffee Company, we create blends to offer a sense of familiarity and consistency to our customers. This approach also helps us, as a small business in Big Lake, MN, to build our brand recognition, showcasing the qualities we can control, such as body or flavor profile.

You get what you pay for, as with most things in life. Sourcing single origin or blended coffees from quality-focused roasters like us in Big Lake, MN, will help to ensure the coffee has lived a good life and has been well-cared for, which will be reflected in your cup. Explore our offerings and keep an open mind. Every coffee is unique and special in its own way, and you could spend your entire life exploring everything coffee has to offer and never have two cups that are the same.

Comparison is one of the best ways to experience the nuance of coffee. Coffee cuppings are a very special ritual for us, allowing you to taste multiple coffees side by side. This highlights the distinct flavors that our air roasting method brings out in each bean.

To get the most out of your coffee, watch our brew guides, which will teach you our recipes for brewing coffee on all of the popular brew devices. As a growing Minnesota coffee roaster, we are excited to share our passion for great coffee with you.