What does "origin" mean on the back of the bag?
Origin is where the coffee is grown. Now let's get into some details about where coffee is grown.
Coffee is grown around the world along the equator in what is called "the coffee belt". It exists in between the latitudes 25 degrees North and 30 degrees South. Coffee needs mild temperatures, rich soil, and higher humidity. Coffee is picky, it wants an area with a rainy season, but also needs a dry season too. (This not only plays an important part in where coffee is being grown right now, but also needs to be remembered when looking at what world climates will look like in 15 years.)
There is a long list of countries that produce coffee, so I am not going to write them all here.
Each country’s climate, soil, and coffee varieties all contribute to the coffees unique base of flavor. Each country also has its own tools and tricks of processing the coffee that have become the norm in the area, due to either government intervention or access to resources. (some countries mandating all coffee coming out of their specific country be washed process)
An example of geographic area playing a roll in processing would be the use of natural processing of coffee. This processing method is going to use significantly less water than washed process so producers in certain areas without access to an excess of clean water might stick to natural processing.
A good example of a growing area coming up with its own tools and tricks would be African raised drying beds. Thought to have originated in Ethiopia, these were a simple, cheap solution to drying coffee evenly and quickly after processing and has quickly spread to the rest of the coffee world.
As you probably caught on by the other posts, story matters with each of the things on the back of the bag. And each coffee growing country has deep histories and roots with coffee. And those can be both terrible and good. On a positive note, producers are now more connected to one another more than ever before. With this open communication we have begun to see solutions for growing coffee problems in one country, be shared and enacted in other countries, making producers jobs not only easier, but improving coffee quality for all of us.