Single Origin vs. Blends

One of the new things that I’ve enjoyed during the quarantine is the surge of roasters and coffee shop owners being accessible across live-streaming platforms, sharing information and personal encounters that were rare during the pre-quarantine times.

The Santa Cruz based coffee company Verve has now hosted two 2pm Ask Me Anything (AMA) sessions on Instagram Live, the first Thursday, April 23rd, and their second on Friday, May 8th, where they answered fan-submitted questions live.  One of my favorite topics from May 8th’s Instagram Live with Verve co-founder Colby Barr was his explanation of single-origin coffees versus coffee blends.


Before I get into his descriptions, do you know the difference?

Basically, when you buy a bag of coffee, the coffee beans come from somewhere.  But are they coming from just one place (single) or multiple (blend)?

A single-origin coffee is from one “single” place, but that is somewhat of a vague statement, as “single-origin” can be broken down even further to deeper levels of specificity.  A single-origin coffee labeled Ethiopian can be from anywhere in the country of Ethiopia, or it can be from a specific region within Ethiopia, such as Yirgacheffe, or it can be broken down even further to the mill level, or all the way down to the specific farmer.  At Verve, they try and go as detailed and specific as possible for their single-origin coffees, and so they’re trying to get to the farmer level, rather than regional blends.

Single-origin coffees often only available in limited quantities, and they’re built to be vibrant and unique, rather than hitting pre-determined flavor profiles. They’re eccentric, beautiful coffees – the wild child of coffees, purchased to be who it is: sparkles and going crazy with tasting notes.  Single origins are roasted to highlight that.

Alternatively, a blend is a coffee comprised of more than one single-origin coffee.  For Verve, there are plenty of benefits to blends, including that they are easier to have available year-round, they’re built for balance, and they are coffees that are sourced to fill a pre-determined flavor profile for consistency.

Verve Seabright is a house blend, and they know what they want it to taste like – chocolate body, ripe cherry, marzipan, and a clean cup.  These characteristics are predetermined and something they’ve developed, and so they buy coffees to fit into this framework in order to make the coffee taste a certain way in the end result.

Seabright House Blend 12 oz Bag

Photo from Verve Coffee Roasters