This is our neighborhood.
This is not Paris.
This is not New York.
This is not Los Angeles.
This is definitely not Seattle.
This is Oregon.
This is Portland.
It’s not the biggest town, but we wouldn’t choose to live anywhere else.
This is Southeast.
This is Hawthorne, Division, and Belmont.
This is our home.
We know our neighbors.
We aren’t slick.
We aren’t rude.
We recycle and compost. We’re not perfect at it, but we try.
We ride buses and bikes to work.
We hike, run, and walk.
We grow our vegetables in our front yards.
We support local folks–folks like us.
We like micro brews, micro batches, and micro buses.
And we know our coffee is freshest when it’s delivered to our doors.
“Single origin” has become a buzzword in the specialty coffee world. It signifies, as you might expect, that the beans in that bag all come from the same place. This is in contrast to a blend, which is a mixture of beans from several different origins. Applied strictly, single origin can mean that the beans all came from the same farm, though often it means that they came from the same collective, which may be supplied by many small farms in a region. Either way, the beans are coming from a relatively small piece of the world, and, as a result, the flavors imparted by the soil, weather, harvesting and processing practices of that region will be pronounced in the cup. This is assuming the roaster did a good job and the beans were ground and brewed in a way to protect the flavors.
What might those flavors be, anyway? Here’s a run down of some of the characteristics you may expect from the coffees from some popular origins. These are generalizations, and by no means meant to be taken as strict or comprehensive:
- Costa Rica – Costa Rican coffee is usually considered the most balanced. This is what many people think of as a standard “good cup of coffee”. It is usually full-bodied and rich.
- Ethiopia – Ethiopia is the birthplace of the Arabica coffee plant. It all started here. Ethiopian coffees vary quite a bit due to differences in processing and other factors. Yirgacheffe (a particular origin town in Southern Ethiopia) produces a bright, light-bodied coffee with citrus notes, while beans from the Harrar region have more body, earthy flavors, and famously sometimes strong blueberry notes.
- Sumatra – Sumatran Mandheling is a very heavy-bodied coffee. Roasters often roast Sumatrans dark because of it’s tendency to have a mottled, uneven color at medium roasts. The beans are also quite large compared to most. However, it has a rich flavor, despite the strange appearance and can produce a fine cup at various roast levels. Earthy and a bit ragged.
- Kenya – Kenya is the other powerhouse (besides Ethiopia) of coffee in Africa. Kenya’s coffee industry is highly developed and benefits from intense research and development. Kenyan coffees are usually top notch. It should be noted that these are often quite acidic coffees, meaning that they have much of the prized brightness and intense flavor so valued in the coffee world. In coffee, acidity is not the same as acidity in something like tomatoes. Acidity is a sought-after flavor characteristic and does not refer to something that will eat at the lining of your stomach. Kenyan coffees are often fruity or winey in flavor and usually complex. This is not your average “nice” cup of coffee. It’s a flavor experience.
- Guatemala – Guatemalan coffees such as Huehuetenango are valued for their rich, bold flavors and also for subtle undertones. Many times they are chocolatey with notes of caramel. Other Guatemalan coffees have distinctly fruited notes.
- Brazil – Brazil is by far the largest producer of coffee in the world. This is not to say it is always the best coffee in the world. As you might imagine, in all of that production, there is a wide range of quality. That said, most espresso blends contain a large percentage of Brazilian coffee. The reason for this is that it adds a great deal of body and sweetness, producing the rich thick foam, called crema, on top of an espresso. Some of my favorite, full-bodied chocolaty coffees have been Brazilian Bourbons.
- Colombia – Colombia is another large South American producer. Colombia has done a fantastic job of marketing and associating itself with the idea of a “good cup of coffee”. This is only partially deserved. Colombia definitely does produce some good coffee, and it also produces a lot of very boring coffee. Most Colombian crops are just a clean cup with almost no lingering after taste to be savored on the tongue. Occasionally, though, a fantastic Colombian crop comes about. Flavors can vary greatly, as Colombia has a number of different growing regions with different crop cycles.
- Panama – Panama produces bright coffees with floral and clean fruit flavors. Often these are very light-bodied, almost tea-like coffees, and they’re great for a change of pace. Panama is also the home of the most desired coffee in the Specialty Coffee industry — Esmeralda Especial Gesha. This coffee was reportedly described by Duane Sorensen of Stumptown Coffee Roasters as tasting like “Juicy Fruit”. Stumptown has been known to sell it in the neighborhood of $80 a pound.
We’re not selling anything at the $80 price point, but we do deliver some fine single origin coffees!