Single origin coffee has established itself in the industry through the unique experience it provides drinkers. Each cup embodies the region and community where it was grown with distinct flavor nuances from year to year. While traceability is a defining feature of a single origin, there are many other factors that make it a notable roast. To learn more about these factors, we sat down with our roasting partner, Matty Bishop. Read on to get his thoughts on all things single origin and Our Gorongosa being the first from Mozambique!
What does single origin mean?
Single origin means that coffee or a blend of coffees from different farms all come from one country...meaning that the coffee is from a specific region or even a single farm. This is the case with Our Gorongosa’s Single Origin coffee. Not only is this coffee all from Mozambique,[it] originates from small farms in immediate proximity to Gorongosa National Park.
Single origin coffees can be more pronounced in their flavors. Blends are created [with beans] from various origins that add flavor components but also balance out and mute flavors in one another. When you drink a single origin, you are tasting a coffee that has a flavor based on the specific conditions in a given area (soil, sunlight, humidity, elevation, rainfall, etc.) in addition to specific coffee plant varieties grown in the area and the processing techniques used after the coffee is harvested.
Almost all coffees offered by a roaster as a single origin have a relatively high-quality level to begin with as they must be pleasant to drink by themselves. In the wine industry, drinkers often refer to a wine demonstrating terroir, or a sense of place. Single origin coffees have a strong parallel with wine [in that] coffees from specific regions often have specific taste characteristics. Many coffee drinkers seek out single origins for the adventure involved in trying coffees that each give a different sense of where they were grown.
Why are single origins important for the coffee industry as a whole?
Single origin coffees can be important for coffee farmers and for the industry as a whole because of the unique identity they give coffees grown in a specific region. Coffee without strong distinguishing attributes becomes a commodity. Where farmers are growing commodity coffees, the advantage goes to farms that can produce coffee most cheaply. That usually means that the economic advantage goes to large legacy estates and industrialized farms. The coffee industry, however, has a significant number of smallholder farmers looking to compete and provide a living for their families. Single origin coffees can particularly benefit these smallholders.
When farmers in a given country or region can establish their coffees as being unique, they give their coffee differentiated value and protect it from substitution with other coffees. Establishing high-quality, uniquely defined single origins helps farmers and others along the supply chain better market their coffee and seek higher value from consumers who appreciate these attributes. This can greatly benefit small producers who are rarely able to compete with large industrial operations in terms of the cost of production.
What excites you about Mozambique as a single origin destination?
Mozambique is exciting as a single origin destination for many reasons. In terms of the coffee industry as a whole, there is an incredibly small amount of specialty-grade coffee coming out of Mozambique. The entirety of the specialty coffee that I’m aware of leaving Mozambique is grown by farmers with Our Gorongosa. There are only a handful of countries exporting specialty grade Arabica from East Africa; of those, Mozambique is among the most southerly.
In addition to these aspects, I believe that single origin coffees are not only a reflection of their geographic origin but also a reflection of the people who grow and process them. This is true not only symbolically but also physically, as the decisions growers and processors make play out how coffee actually tastes. Rarity, unique geography, and unique human inputs inevitably influenced by history and culture make Mozambique an exciting single origin [destination].
What makes the Our Gorongosa single origin unique?
Gorongosa's single origin is, again, incredibly unique due to its scarcity. Where else are you going to try a Mozambique single origin specialty coffee? Likely, nowhere – only with Gorongosa. As for the coffee itself, it is really enjoyable. This is a truly approachable cup of coffee that I think can be widely shared and appreciated.
Matty recently joined us for an Instagram Live to chat all things single origin. Watch it here to learn even more.