What’s the difference between Single-Origin Coffee and Single-Estate Coffee?

Single origin coffee and single estate coffee are both terms used to describe specific types of coffee, but they refer to slightly different things:

Single-Origin coffee refers to coffee that comes from a specific geographic origin, such as a particular country or region within a country. This means that all the beans in the bag come from the same geographic place, and they are often roasted to highlight the unique flavor characteristics of that origin. Single origin coffees can be blends of beans from different farms or estates within the same region, so long as they all share the same origin.

By contrast, single estate coffee refers to coffee which comes from a single farm or estate, rather than a specific geographic region. This means that all of the beans in the bag come from the same farm, and they are often roasted to highlight the unique flavor characteristics of that particular farm. Single estate coffees can be considered a subset of single origin coffees, as they come from a specific origin, but they are also more specific in that they come from a single source, estate, and farm.

So what? Why does that matter? Well, it matters a great deal. Imagine you are choosing a home to buy in a specific region of the country, or “origin” if you will. Now imagine your realtor saying, “these homes all come from the same origin, so just pick whichever one you want because they’re more or less the same.” You would probably fire that realtor and hire another. Buying coffee is a less consequential decision for you than buying a house, but no less important for the farmer who has chosen to practice farming ethics, responsibility and sustainability. She doesn’t want to be lumped in with the farmer down the road who treats his workers, his soil, and his community poorly. This is why the distinction between Single Origin and Single Estate matters.

The coffee at one farm may be ethically sourced, environmentally friendly, sustainably grown, with excellent soil quality, irrigation protocols, composting practices, and full of happy, well-compensated workers. The farm down the road might have none of those things, or maybe just a few. Both come from a Single Origin, but not from a Single Estate.

Lucatelli uses Single Estate Specialty Grade Coffee. We know and have a personal and business relationship with the family who grows our coffee. The farm, or fazenda in Portuguese, is called Fazenda Bom Jesus and Fazenda Sao Lucas, in the Alta Mogiana region of Brazil, and owned by the same family. We know very well how excellently Flavia and Gabriel treat their employees, and how much they invest in their community. We know they do their own composting. They practice growing techiques which maximize the sustainability of their environment. We know they are Rainforest Alliance and UTZ Sustainability certified, and have been since 2008.

So choose a coffee company that knows their source, right down into the soil, and isn’t afraid if you know too. Choose Single Estate. Choose Lucatelli. It matters.

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