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!