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  1. #1
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    SOC (Single Origin Coffee) Just what is that REALLY mean?

    In last few days, I have heard that members using SOC.
    People uses that a lot, hoping that (intentionally or unintentionally) it will convey to people (customers) that coffee bean is higher quality than other normal Arabica beans.

    so, perhaps in this thread, we can discuss about this matter a bit?

    I found below definition of SOC from our old reliable Wikipedia.

    Single-origin coffee is coffee grown within a single known geographic origin. Sometimes, this is a single farm,[1] or a specific collection of beans from a single country.[2] The name of the coffee is then usually the place it was grown to whatever degree available. Single-origins are viewed by some as a way to get a specific taste, and some independent coffee shops have found that this gives them a way to add value over large chains.[3]
    There are no real rules or governing body enforcing the labeling of coffee.[4] A single origin coffee could be:
    Coffee entirely from one farm.
    Coffee from multiple farms in the same general area. (very common)
    Coffee from multiple farms in the same country.




    So, what do you think? just what is SOC?

  2. #2
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    Since there's no legal definition, all of the above can be, technically. And an even finer distinction is a particular lot or microlot from one farm.

    But just saying "single origin" only goes so far. If all I knew about a batch of coffee was what country it came from, I wouldn't buy it. Even a finer distinction like "Guatemala Antigua" or "Kenya AA" can refer to a wide rage of coffees.To impress me you'd better give me all the relevant info: country, region, varietals, farm (or co-op or milling station, etc), elevation, processing method, and some roasting recommendations and tasting notes too. Oh yeah, and harvest date too!

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by CucamongaDan View Post
    Since there's no legal definition, all of the above can be, technically. And an even finer distinction is a particular lot or microlot from one farm.

    But just saying "single origin" only goes so far. If all I knew about a batch of coffee was what country it came from, I wouldn't buy it. Even a finer distinction like "Guatemala Antigua" or "Kenya AA" can refer to a wide rage of coffees.To impress me you'd better give me all the relevant info: country, region, varietals, farm (or co-op or milling station, etc), elevation, processing method, and some roasting recommendations and tasting notes too. Oh yeah, and harvest date too!
    I certainly enjoy looking at the descriptions and factoids of what I'm buying and always look at them but I have never seen any that say when the bean was harvested. Do you have an example of a site that gives the harvest date?

    I usually don't pay attention to SOC, FTO etc...., I think it's all just marketing.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Duffyjr View Post
    I certainly enjoy looking at the descriptions and factoids of what I'm buying and always look at them but I have never seen any that say when the bean was harvested. Do you have an example of a site that gives the harvest date?

    I usually don't pay attention to SOC, FTO etc...., I think it's all just marketing.
    normally on coffee bag (like one pound or 12oz coffee bag), it is uncommon to write the harvest date. (but they "should" put the roasted date). the printed harvest year comes on exportation burlap bag. as example, when I sold green beans to taiwan last year, we print 2016/2017 harvest on the burlap bag. the reason we put 2016/2017 is that the real harvest begins from Nov 2016 and finishes end March 2017. so when you sell the beans in 2017, by law, we have to put 2016/2017 harvest.

    SOC & FTO are purely for marketing at this time. But they shouldn't be using 99% for marketing.... that is a shame.
    Last edited by ensoluna; 02-06-2018 at 06:31 AM.

  5. #5
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    Yeah sorry I should clarify. First of all I'm only buying green coffee for home roasting, so I'm glad I don't have to worry about finding roast dates on what I purchase! I try to use my home roasts up in a week.

    I do see harvest year in the descriptions commonly.

    The sellers I buy from most (Sweet Maria, Burman, Happy Mug) all specify "arrival date", which is the harvest date plus however many months it took to get to the U.S. Which used to be quite a lot of months for certain destinations; streamlining the shipping process has helped some origins get a greater hold into the specialty market.

    I buy from Bodhi Leaf a lot too and he simply specifies "Harvest: Current" in all his descriptions. It all has seemed to be so.

    I had some Amazon money and looked at some coffees from Lavanta that sounded good but didn't have arrival date. So I asked in the question section, and they answered quickly that it had been November for one and December the other. So I bought, and the Malawi Mzuzu and Flores Kopmodo I got from them are pretty good! They are certainly seeming fresh anyway!
    Last edited by CucamongaDan; 02-06-2018 at 06:46 PM.

  6. #6
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    SOC. this term is used to signal higher quality, but they are not necessarily well understood by consumers.

    for example, wine industry, single vineyard refers to a certain block of a vineyard or the entire vineyard where all the grape is grown. whether the vineyard is planted with one or several varieties, the promise of a single vineyard wine is that the unique character of that location and that vintage will transfer through... IN YOUR GLASS.

    However, very very unfortunately, in our coffee industry, Single Origin is being used 99.999% as marketing scheme or marketing "scam".
    as you can see from wiki definition, if SOC can be from a single farm and multiple farms in a single COUNTRY, what is the point calling it SOC?

    actually, there are people who buys a shitty bad coffee from a single farm at very low pricing and advertise it as SOC, hoping that they will get some more money for it. If you ask me, we really need a lot stronger regulation, conditions..etc to define SOC.

    ONE OF THE MOST COMMON WAYS TO EXPERIENCE SOC IS BY ORDERING "POUR OVER" AT A COFFEE SHOP.

    If the coffee is really good SOC, it makes sense to sit (not guzzling caffeine via the hole of a plastic lid) and savor tasting an Ethiopian or Guatemalan from a ceramic mug.

  7. #7
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    coffee labeled "Single Origin Coffee" can command a higher price than "regular Joe" types of coffee.
    And more likely, consumers will pay bit of higher price, hoping that SOC will give you something better.

    But the problem is the dictionary style definition of Single Origin Coffee.
    The range is extreme at this time. In some case, the term can be applied to "an entire country". (it is our Guatemalan, SOC. Wow....) or
    it can refer to one variety of coffee picked on a small farm located in Cuilco, Huehuetenango, Guatemala with certain levels of rain, growing conditions and even level of fruit maturation which contribute to a unique product, expressive of time and place. (of course, I prefer this, rather than entire country. But it is also bit extreme..).

    I guess that it is akin to the concept of "terroir" in wine. With the right method of processing, storing, and roasting, the coffee's taste profile can be indicative of what it was grown and how it was produced & processed.

    If you do not mind me asking, what your definition of SOC be?

  8. #8
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    Normally, the cafes in USA, including many specialty cafes, I hardly see anyone ordering "pour over" which takes longer waiting time and more expensive than normal coffees, such as regular house brew and all other espresso based drinks, such as latte, cappuccino...etc. (honestly, even for me, I get more disappointed at most of Pour overs. I do not mind waiting or paying a couple of dollars more, however, 9 out of 10 times, I do not get the real good SOC experience at all. (probably, they are using bad SOC beans and sometimes those baristas do not know what they are doing....)

    And probably for those who want a consistent taste profile prefer blended dark roasts, with more traditionally recognizable flavor that combine predictable with milk in espresso based drinks.

    It is uncommon for the coffee used in espresso to be offered as SOC.
    Because in espresso preparation, as the grinds are subjected to more ...lets say "extreme conditions". 9 times the atmospheric pressure, only half a min brewing time. So, when SOC is used for espresso (again, good SOC, not most of the shitty ones), in espresso preparation, basically the flavor profile can be amplified to the point where it is out of balance completely. As example, the refined bright citrus notes in SOC filtered coffee can become overly lemony sensation in an espresso.

    it IS the safe route to use dark roasted "espresso blend" (which is kind of responsible for people to believe that espresso beans are different than filtered beans). Anyway, there are some cafes that uses good SOC beans for espresso and if your favorite cafe can produce a good single origin espresso, that is a great sign that the barista is paying close attention. (however, so far, I could not find one around my house...about 15 miles radius )

  9. #9
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    So, what does SOC mean for a coffee drinker?

    SOC beans are specialty coffee beans and picked by hand (not with huge machines that Brazil uses to pick the cherries), usually in small farms.
    When you buy the coffee off a shelf, you will likely notice that the label may not state single origin, but they should still be fairly easy to identify.

    The bag will list the country, and probably, most likely, the region and farm or even processing method (which is very important in my opinion due to drastic flavor changes).

    As for pricing, generally starts at $17 for a 12 oz bag and it can go up to mid 20th.
    These offerings are a byproduct of coffee's 3rd wave which is in part a movement to recognize the value of the farms and linkage between a coffee's heritages and the cupping flavors.

    Personally, I am not promoting these companies, but if you go and check the websites of Intelligentsia, Stumptown and Blue Bottle, you will notice that they are mostly offering single origin coffees.

  10. #10
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    I have been writing this for some time now. and I hope that most enlightened coffee drinkers know the difference between a SOC and a blend.

    or do we????

    I do not remember when, but some time ago, Starbucks added an Ethiopian coffee to their offerings, billed very curiously as a "SINGLE ORIGIN BLEND".


    Single Origin Blend??? what is that mean? (I do not even know :+( well... I kind of know, but what I am thinking would be somewhat similar to what Starbucks was thinking... I do not think so)

    Coffee is an industry, rather very very complex one. Has coffee industry got its story straight on how specific they are trying to be when they advertise a coffee as coming from a single origin?
    Does a sophisticated coffee drinker think that they are being clever and selecting coffees whose terroir they believe they know and prefer,.....really know how precisely they have been homed in????

    As of now, the answer (which should be rooted in the quest for transparency) is ironically more confusing and opaque than you and I might think...

    SOC (Single Origin Coffee)  Just what is that REALLY mean?-1.jpgSOC (Single Origin Coffee)  Just what is that REALLY mean?-2.jpgSOC (Single Origin Coffee)  Just what is that REALLY mean?-5.jpg

 

 
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