Most people will know the terms ‘Single Origin Coffee’, or maybe ‘Single Estate / Farm Coffee’, but more recently you may have heard ‘Microlot Coffee’ a lot more. These are far more than coffee marketing terms, and can often directly correlate to the provenance, level of transparency and quality of the coffee. Read on to learn more about microlots or check out our first Discovery Coffee if you’d like to taste one!
SINGLE ORIGIN OR SINGLE ESTATE / FARM COFFEE
First, we thought it would best to clarify Single Origin / Estate / Farm coffee. Essentially, all these terms can mean the same thing. As speciality roasters we source coffee at farm (smallholder or estate size) or group of farms (co-operatives) for larger volumes. All of these could be described as single origin coffee - they all come from one origin, or equally they might be described as a single estate or farm as this is the level we are sourcing from.
Someone recently described our Ranmore Espresso as a single origin coffee. Although technically this isn't quite correct (it’s actually a blend of three origins), there is no difference in the quality or characteristics of the coffee since we know where each of the three single origin coffees that make up the blend come from. Each are from small farms (Guatemala, Brazil) or cooperatives (Peru), but blended together the three origins complement each other to create a great espresso flavour profile.
A great analogy for microlot coffee is an apple orchard. If your orchard produces great tasting cox apples but you notice one section that produces either higher quality or different tasting cox apples - perhaps sweeter or juicier - then you might want to give it a bit more attention and sell them separately to the others. It’s the same for coffee microlots. These are special lots of coffee, selected for their high quality and unique flavour profiles, and usually grown in limited quantities and picked and processed entirely separately to the rest of the farm's lots.
SO WHICH IS BEST?
Microlots can produce exceptional tasting coffees as there is often a lot more effort and attention required to producing a coffee that will either have unusual flavour profiles or be of particularly high quality. However, I would say that how we source at Chimney Fire is more related to how we want to use the beans. For example, a microlot coffee wouldn’t work for our extremely popular house blend since we require more volume (& therefore more consistent sourcing). On the other hand, introducing a microlot seemed to make perfect sense for our first Discovery Coffee!