What is a Coffee Blend?
Coffee blends have taken a backseat to current Third Wave coffee trends. These days, the talk is all about unique and exotic single origins. But even though blends don’t get the same hype, they are an equally important style of coffee.
Why do coffee shops use blends for their house espresso and drip brews? Keep reading to learn the whats, whys, and hows of coffee blending.
Coffee Blends Explained
A coffee blend is simply a mixture of more than one coffee. Usually, that means two or more coffees from different growing regions, but it can also refer to different types of coffee beans.
Blends vs. Single Origins
The most common coffee blend combines green coffee beans from two or more origins. This can mean coffee grown in different countries, but it can just as quickly be coffee beans grown in different regions of the same country. In this era of micro-lot coffee, a blend can be two coffees from different producers in the same region.
To learn more about what single-origin coffee is and how a blend differs, watch this video from Artisti Coffee Roasters:
Blending Coffee Before or After Roasting
You can blend coffee before or after roasting; both methods have pros and cons (1).
One advantage of blending green coffee beans before roasting is that the beans absorb each other’s flavours when heated, promoting a more cohesive blend. It also saves the roaster time and money to only roast one batch. However, if the coffee beans are of different sizes or densities, they may not roast uniformly.
Blending after roasting lets, you roast each coffee optimally to showcase its character. It’s a good choice for specialty coffee, according to Danilo Lodi, WBC-certified judge.
If you’re focused on offering high-end specialty coffee, you might consider taking more time to add more value to a post-blended coffee.
Post-blending produces a more consistent coffee, as fewer beans will be under or over-roasted.
Why Blend Coffee
People used coffee blends to mask stale or low-quality beans in the past, giving them a poor reputation compared to single-origin coffees. But that is no longer true. Roasters now source some of the best coffees we’ve tried for blends and combine them thoughtfully, producing something a single-origin can’t match. Blends aren’t better or worse than single origins; they’re two different coffee types to enjoy.
Roasters frequently blend coffees to create a balanced flavour profile, with different origins used to provide specific taste characteristics. A bright, fruity, and acidic coffee from Ethiopia might be overpowering. Still, it can be paired with a rich and earthy coffee from Indonesia for a palate-pleasing brew.
Blending allows roasters to produce coffee with a consistent flavour profile year-round, even as growing regions go in and out of season.
While it is fun to sample rare and seasonal coffees, it is equally important for roasters to have a reliable product, especially for cafes.
Different Bean Types
Another kind of blend uses two coffee bean types, most often Arabica and Robusta beans. Again, the goal is balance. Robusta coffee provides a heavy body, rich crema, and earthy flavour, while the Arabica beans add sweetness and complexity.
Robusta beans have twice as much caffeine as Arabica beans, so you’ll also see this blend in coffees marketed as “extra strong.” Similarly, roasters can blend decaffeinated and caffeinated coffee to create the famous “half-caff.”
It is a common misconception that an espresso blend uses a particular coffee bean, but there is no such thing as an espresso bean. An espresso blend is just a coffee blend the roaster thinks will be deliciously brewed as espresso. Usually, this means a medium or dark roast with a heavy body, creamy mouthfeel, and traditional espresso flavours like chocolate and nuts.
The definition of a coffee blend might be simple, but crafting a good blend is an art. We are lucky to live in a time when high-quality roasters are giving coffee blends the attention they deserve.
What do you think about coffee blends? Do you love that they’re reliable and consistent? Or do you think they’re boring compared with the excitement of a single origin? Let us know in the comments!
Mocha Java blend is the world’s oldest coffee blend. Initially, it paired the sweet, fruity coffees exported from Mocha, Yemen, with the dark and earthy coffees of Java, Indonesia. The Mocha Java blend is still popular, but Ethiopian beans are now often substituted for a Yemeni coffee.
Breakfast blend is typically a light or medium roast with a light body and mild flavour, though it has no strict definition. Roasters and coffee shops design these blends to be easy-drinking for early mornings.
Yes, you can make a coffee blend by buying two different coffees and mixing them before grinding. It’s fun to experiment with flavours, but remember that roasters doing this for a living have a lot of experience. So don’t be surprised if some of your experiments go awry!
- Merchant, J. (2021, August 19). Is it better to pre-blend or post-blend coffee? Retrieved from https://www.mtpak.coffee/2021/08/pre-blend-or-post-blend-roasted-coffee/