Monthly Archives: May 2012

Coffee Blends – The Why and The How

Last week, I wrote about Three Region Blend, and promised a discussion in a future post that would go into further detail about the purpose of blending coffee – why do it? What’s the point?

There are two major reasons that I know of –

The first is to provide balance. You might mix a coffee with a high acidity with one with a lower one and a heavier body to balance each other out. Some examples of coffees blended together to provide that sort of balance are House Blend, and Pike Place Roast – there is no overwhelming feature in either of them – both are a well balanced cup of coffee.

The second is for flavor – find two flavors that mix well – berries and citrus, berries and chocolate, cocoa and spices, for example, and combine them together. Some examples of this type of blend are Tribute Blend, where cherry, floral and herbal flavors combine together to create what I consider to be the best cup of coffee I’ve ever had, and Three Region Blend (covered last post), which has herbal, floral and cocoa notes that combine very nicely together to create an excellent cup of coffee.

In addition to considerations of why we blend coffee, there are also two ways that coffee can be blended – pre-roast, and post-roast. There are advantages to each, but pre-roast is more common.

Pre-Roast Blends are blends that are sorted together while the beans are still green, and then roasted together for optimal flavor. As mentioned in the Roasty Sweet post, each bean has an optimal roast specification, the particular roasting time that will bring out the best flavors from this bean. In pre-roast blends, the beans are typically close enough in terms of this optimal roasting time, and the roasting time is determined by the flavor that has been chosen as the dominant one. Three Region Blend is a Pre-Roast Blend.

Post-Roast Blends are beans that are blended after they are roasted (surprise!). The logic for blending after roasting is pretty much what you would guess – the beans chosen for the blend have optimal roast times that are too far apart. If they were to be blended while green and then roasted, the risk is that one bean would overdevelop, or that the other would not develop at all, and the flavor would suffer. So instead, each bean is roasted to it’s optimal specification, and blended together after. The best example of a post-roast blend is Tribute Blend.

So that is, in brief, my post about blending coffee.

Have questions? Is there a topic that you want to know about? Let me know in the comments!

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Posted by on May 18, 2012 in Uncategorized


Spotlight On – Three Region Blend (2012)

I think it might be interesting, in addition to looking at all the different terminology that we use when we talk about coffee, to take a look at some of the different coffees that I work with regularly, and talk about them.

I figured I’d start with Three Region Blend (2012), as it is a seasonal blend that arrived on shelves today.

Don't mind the terrible grammar at the bottom there.

Three Region Blend is, by virtue of its name, a blended coffee. It is the first example of Starbucks taking coffee beans grown in all three of the major growing regions, and combining them into one coffee. In this case, the beans were grown in Latin America, Africa, and Papua New Guinea. I’ll talk more about blends and their purpose in a later post (complete with the poster I made yesterday).

When I made this poster, I tried to keep my own thoughts on the taste out of it. I am not always around when my co-workers taste the coffees, and in the case of blends, different things stand out to different people, sometimes even changing with each tasting.

As an example – I have set this as our coffee for tasting two weeks in a row, as I feel that it is important to make sure that everyone has an opportunity to taste it and talk about it with their peers and our customers. When I led a tasting last Monday, I noticed a lot of citrus and acidity. However, when I led a tasting this week, I smelled the floral and herbal notes mentioned in the description, and tasted some of the cocoa notes. In this tasting, the body stood out for sure as well.

I encourage you to seek out and try this coffee yourself, and let me know what stands out to you. Do you like it? Do you hate it? Why?

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Posted by on May 1, 2012 in Uncategorized