The Trouble with Single Origin Espresso

Single varietal espresso is sometimes good, but it is not always the best way to present a coffee or enjoy an espresso. I prefer an espresso in which the acidity and brightness are balanced by a depth of body often not found in light roast single origin offerings.

And while this is true when drinking a double shot of espresso straight, it can become more important as part of a latte drink, where light roasts can lack a boldness or backbone to shine through the milk.

Roasting a good espresso to be balanced and subtle at the same time is not necessarily a one-bean-fits-all proposition.

Street 'spro in Seattle, WA

When it comes to roasting coffee beans for espresso, my philosophy is balance. The issue with many single origin espressos is that they are not roasted to be balanced, but to be extraordinary in some way. They succeed in being tart and tangy, but are left without enough body to balance out the bright notes of the coffee.

If I were to use a beer analogy, its like a pale ale that is a little hoppy but drinks smoothly, versus one that is really hoppy and sharp on the palate. That's the kind of flavor difference we are talking about with espresso too.

While I do have a few single origin coffees that make an excellent espresso shot (the Organic Ethiopia Natural Hambela, for example) usually that's a secondary consideration for me, and a bonus of the varietal! Most of the time, I roast coffee for coffee and espresso for espresso. My espresso roast profiles are formulated specifically for an espresso extraction. The result is a balanced yet nuanced cup.

If you enjoy espresso, try one of our blends especially roasted to bring out the best in your brew:

Trianon Espresso (Classic cafe favorite since 1985!) 
Organic Espresso 
Decaf Espresso 


Single Origin Espresso Isn't Always Best

1 comment

Roy R

Can you please expound on this? Do you prefer to use “light roasts” for espresso and if so, what about those of us who refuse to drink IPA beer or light roast coffee, should we stick with single origin? Since I am bothering you for information: What does it mean when you refer to “balanced”? That term is tossed around like the average person just knows what it means, I suspect more than half of coffee drinkers have no clue what that term means – count me in the masses. Is “balanced cup” subject to interpretation or is there some performance standard that can be measured and if the latter, what is that objective standard by which I can compare one cup of coffee to another?

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