Single Origin Vs. Blends

There’s a colorful phrase comparing opinions…

to a certain part of the human anatomy, and its not untrue.  We do all have our opinions, and they are all valid.  Every industry has it’s trends, and pressures to like the things other people are liking.  But if we are true to ourselves, and in this case to our taste buds, we may not always agree.  This brings me to one of the oldest debates in the third wave coffee movement.

Blends versus single origins.  It’s not cool to say you like blends over single origins, and it’s hard to lay a blanket statement like that out there, because like most things in life there are always exceptions to every rule.  The debate of blends versus single origins will rage on for as long as coffee is consumed, but I have my own opinions on this issue, and you’re about to read them.  Lucky you.

For me the debate generally focuses less on the bean, or beans, and more on the brew method.  In most cases, I will almost always prefer a blend when it comes to espresso.  The reasoning behind this pretty simple, they tend to taste better to me.  The reason for that is more complicated.  Blends are developed to create balance.  Balance in an espresso is more important to me because of its concentrated form.  The intensity of straight espresso lends itself better to blends (usually) because you get flavors that are complimentary, and no one flavor overpowers the others.  This isn't saying there aren't great single origin espressos, the one that comes immediately to mind is the Sweetheart Espresso from Olympia Coffee Roasting.

In contrast, single origins really shine in drip forms of coffee.  Having a bit longer brew time means that the water has longer contact time to pull out the unique flavors from that origin.  Have you ever tasted watermelon or tomato bisque in your cup of coffee? I mean not just a hint, but clear as day?  Those are the kinds of flavor experiences that you’ll get from a properly roasted, developed, and brewed single origin coffee.  It's something that is not for everyone, and may be just too overpowering for someone just looking for a cup with their eggs in the morning.

In the end the choice comes down to your preferences and what you look for in your cup of coffee.  I don't believe one is superior to the other.  There is of course a push in the specialty coffee industry towards single origins being the peak of the coffee experience.  This is born of the idea within the third wave movement that single origin coffees really allow you taste, and appreciate the difference in origins.  This is true, but coffee is subjective and if you are spending your hard earned money, spend it on the coffee you enjoy.


1 Comment

  1. […]  As those who have been readers for awhile will attest, I do really appreciate a solid espresso blend over most single origins.  If there is some Ethiopia in the blend, it's a near guarantee it'll hit […]


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