The ‘Third Wave Of Coffee’ has pretty much changed the way we perceive coffee. Coffee now rubs shoulders with the likes of wine and whiskey. It’s not always that coffee has been as popular as it has been today. The speed at which the shift of perception of coffee has undergone has been (and still is) enormous.
One of the bigger factors to embrace the Third Wave of Coffee is the serving of single-origin coffee.
The reason is quite simple. Since it’s easier now to find and connect with the farmers of coffee farms, a lot of direct trade has become popular and the showcasing of the coffee from single farms is prioritised.
Also, the significance of highlighting the distinct and unique flavour profiles of coffee in farms of a certain micro-climate/terroir( the environment that surrounds the coffee grown ) is greater than ever before. I talked a little about this in my Specialty Coffee post.
To What Extent Does The Term Single-Origin Apply?
It’s absolutely great that the fundamental question of where coffee comes from is pursued and prioritised.
But that’s when a new question arises.
To what extent?
This blog post introduces the single-origin coffee that Stumptown coffee and Starbucks sells using a single-origin name and the reasons behind them.
Depending on the perspectives and philosophy of companies, or even individuals, the term single-origin could differ.
For example, when I hear the term single-origin, I would expect to know the country, region, and if possible, the farm where the coffee comes from. But maybe that’s because I’ve been going around to many specialty coffee cafes and stores. If I go to a Kissaten ( old-style Japanese cafe ), I may only be served coffee with a country name like Colombia or Brazil.
In business perspectives, maintaining the same flavour profile is key to customer satisfaction. In most cases, serving coffee with the same flavour profile for a lengthy period is no easy task. That’s because the coffee harvested does not always taste the same year after year. The environment, climate and soil conditions can shift annually which changes the taste of coffee. So you can imagine how difficult it is for large businesses supplying coffee to thousands of customers daily. This means that they need coffee from a group of farmers or a group of regions, and then using the whole area/country under single-origin coffee.
The Blessing of The Third Wave of Coffee
But for cafes and roaster cafes born out of the Third Wave of Coffee, it’s a basic necessity to have almost 100% accurate information about the coffee which would be served under single-origin coffee. You would usually find a menu explaining about the single-origin coffee being served whether its the Pacamara variety of coffee from the San Isidoro farm of El Salvador or the Raja Batak from the western Lake Toba region of North Sumatra.
Making sure that the coffee one serves has little to none ambiguity is seen as the most important thing. This builds trust, not only between customers and sellers but also between farmers and buyers and the whole coffee community.
For me, it’s always a pleasure when I know that the coffee being served has traceable information. It tells me that the owners of the cafe/roaster cafe is passionate about providing coffee with transparency.
It’s never easy in a business sense to get very specific in attaining coffee from a particular area because of the money, time and effort. But still, there are many passionate coffee lovers out there who painstakingly put effort in doing that and that’s very much appreciated as a customer.
I definitely wish more information is available to customers so that they can appreciate the whole-hearted effort that’s put into the coffee in their hands.
What we need to know as customers
We need to understand that coffee is like wine. A lot of care and attention is put into the whole process from seed to cup. Farmers, distributers, roasters and baristas are the driving force behind the cup of coffee we drink everyday. We should not take it for granted that we have such high-quality coffee available now. The shift from quantity to quality and the significance put on transparency of single-origin coffee is huge and we should appreciate this when we purchase coffee.