In the past, many baristas opted for coffee blends because of their complexity, and due to how well they paired with milk for cappuccinos and lattes. But single origin and single estate coffee beans have taken off in recent years. One of the reasons is that single estate coffee beans are easier to trace. The origin of single origin coffee beans is easier to figure out by taste; the flavors reflect a certain area of the world. This helps the barista to be able to pick out different coffee beans in blends.
Specialty coffee cafes also have been more innovative in recent times in how they brew coffee. This requires stronger bean flavors. Single origin coffee generally tastes better on its own without any milk or sugar. It is ideal for slow drip or pour over methods, which are getting more popular.
Espresso remains the major application where a coffee blend can still do better than a single origin coffee. Espresso must combine several things – acidity without going overboard, sweetness and crema. A single origin can produce a fantastic espresso, but it will lack in some key areas. An espresso blend is tough to beat with its balance of sweetness, crema, body and acidity.
But for many other coffee applications, single origin or single estate is the way to go for the most unique flavors. Many argue that the single origin coffee offers a superior experience for the coffee drinker. This is because of the better communication between farmers and roasters, as well as a higher level of pride by everyone that is involved in the single estate or origin coffee bean supply chain. More coffee roasters today are paying visits to the farms they are buying beans from, so they can personally help to cup the coffee beans. They do this also for the exchange of information to improve the coffee quality.
While a good blend is hard to beat for espresso (with milk, at least), once you try some good single estate coffee beans, you may find yourself not opting for your usual cream and sugar to enjoy the full bodied flavor of single estate coffee. Many coffee experts say the best way to drink single origin or estate coffee is to do a pour over or use a French press. Be sure to ask the barista what their favorite way is to make the specific coffee that you want.