One of the most important benefits of single origin and single estate coffee is traceability. Just like it sounds, traceability means that you can trace the cup of coffee that you are drinking at any moment back to the one farm (or farms) that it came from.
Greater transparency in a coffee supply chain means that everyone involved has access to information about exactly where the coffee came from. This can include information on the farm, its owners, workers, its sustainability and fair-trade practices, and the social causes or community activities a farm might take part in. Traceability also helps farmers gain recognition for growing exceptional coffee and provides incentives to continue growing outstanding coffee. Farmers can develop a following and sell coffee under their own brand. Greater recognition also helps farmers and farms build long-term relationships with local buyers and importers.
This recognition-based approach to selling and promoting coffee is similar to how the finest wines are known worldwide by where they are grown, how they are grown, and who the grapes for a particular wine are grown by.
For example, this recognition-based approach to selling means that you aren’t just drinking a cup of coffee anymore. Instead, you are drinking a Jalpa Gold, 100 percent Himalayan coffee, grown on a farm in Nepal’s Nuwakot District.
However, the majority of all coffees sold around the world today are blended. These coffees are what you might see on café menus and in stores being sold as “house blend” coffee. Coffee blends are made by mixing two to four different types coffee beans, usually from different countries. Coffee sold as a blend often loses the benefits of traceability. The farmers find it hard to gain any recognition, and consumers are less likely to know exactly what they are buying and who they are buying it from. There are of course individuals and businesses that strive to maintain strong standards of traceability for their blended coffee, but this is not the norm. So, why coffee blends? Roasters like to create blends because they get the opportunity to brand unique roast and flavor profiles by combining beans from various sources. Coffee blends also enable roasters to bring down the cost of single origin coffees and increase their seasonal or overall availability, by essentially mixing them with cheaper and more readily available coffees. Despite the benefit of coffee blends, nothing compares to the aroma, flavor, and overall experience of indulging in a truly unique cup of single origin coffee!
You can read more about the rising demand for traceable coffee at our Waves of Coffee page.
Some research courtesy of The Perfect Daily Grind.