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Single-origin story

The truth is in the beans.

Dear Hipster:

You’ve mentioned single-origin espresso a few times in your answers. What does that mean? (Tell your friends to whom you just read my letter to stop snickering.)

— Jess

It means you only get your coffee at Starbucks.

No, not really. But ’Bucks has dabbled in single-origin fever of late. For the discerning hipster, an unqualified shot of espresso no longer suffices, and single-origin beans are the only truth you need to know when ordering. You can think of “single-origin” coffee (or chocolate, or other commodities) as having something like an AOC (appellation d’origine contrôlée), the well-known French standard for agricultural products, whereby geographical origins are certified and guaranteed with a government stamp of approval. AOC control is serious business in France, but “single-origin” occupies a broader range of meaning than it sounds. It could refer to coffee from one country, a region of a country, a single farm, or any number of those things. The belief, among new-wave coffee roasters in the U.S. (and other parts of the world to a much lesser degree) is that coffee beans grown and harvested under specific geographic and climatological circumstances will exhibit a kind of terroir, a specific character that reflects the time and place of their provenance.

There’s truth in that, so you can nod approvingly when your favorite barista urges you to look for the “rich twigs-and-berries flavor, with hints of Pine Sol, tapioca pudding, and marmoset” in your cup of Balinese kopi luwak.

Great trivia: the phrase “single-origin” originally referred to an evolutionary theory about the common ancestor of humankind, but using it for coffee is much more widely applicable, don’t you think?

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Dear Hipster:

You’ve mentioned single-origin espresso a few times in your answers. What does that mean? (Tell your friends to whom you just read my letter to stop snickering.)

— Jess

It means you only get your coffee at Starbucks.

No, not really. But ’Bucks has dabbled in single-origin fever of late. For the discerning hipster, an unqualified shot of espresso no longer suffices, and single-origin beans are the only truth you need to know when ordering. You can think of “single-origin” coffee (or chocolate, or other commodities) as having something like an AOC (appellation d’origine contrôlée), the well-known French standard for agricultural products, whereby geographical origins are certified and guaranteed with a government stamp of approval. AOC control is serious business in France, but “single-origin” occupies a broader range of meaning than it sounds. It could refer to coffee from one country, a region of a country, a single farm, or any number of those things. The belief, among new-wave coffee roasters in the U.S. (and other parts of the world to a much lesser degree) is that coffee beans grown and harvested under specific geographic and climatological circumstances will exhibit a kind of terroir, a specific character that reflects the time and place of their provenance.

There’s truth in that, so you can nod approvingly when your favorite barista urges you to look for the “rich twigs-and-berries flavor, with hints of Pine Sol, tapioca pudding, and marmoset” in your cup of Balinese kopi luwak.

Great trivia: the phrase “single-origin” originally referred to an evolutionary theory about the common ancestor of humankind, but using it for coffee is much more widely applicable, don’t you think?

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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