The Basics of Coffee Blending

The Basics of Coffee Blending

Posted by Meera Nair on

Creating coffee blends is a skill that roasters have developed over the years. It comes from an in-depth understanding of coffee origins, the flavour wheel, and the chemistry behind how cup profile is formed through various processing, roasting, and brewing methods.

That’s why a good coffee roaster will be able to tell you the difference between a good blend and one that is bound to fail the taste test.

If you’ve ever wondered how coffee blends are created, and what makes one better than another, keep reading to know the basics of coffee blends.

Why Create Coffee Blends?

When single origins enjoy a sizable market, and from the point of view of the coffee company, fetch a premium, why create coffee blends at all?

For starters, coffee blends are prized because of their consistent and balanced profile. Each aspect of the profile is intended to complement the other and create a unified whole so that your overall drinking experience is a pleasant one.

With blends, you know that each bag of coffee would taste the same if nothing else changes in your brewing process. The same can’t be said for single origins.

why create coffee blends

Coffee roasters also have insight as to what kind of coffee works in a certain market. Accordingly, by creating blends that would suit the taste preferences of their target audience, they can cater to different segments of the market.

An example of this would be that some European countries prefer milk-based coffees. In such a scenario, roasters may want to create a blend that ultimately has lesser acidity, has nutty-chocolatey notes, or is a dark roast where the bitterness gets balanced with milk. 

It may not always be possible to find a single origin that checks all the boxes and remains consistent, so creating a blend is the ideal option.

How is Coffee Blended?

The first step to creating a coffee blend is to understand which coffees to use. This can be done by assessing the objective/ goal of creating the blend. Roasters often use a process called cupping to individually sample various single origins and then identify which 2 or 3 would make for a great coffee blend. 

The next phase is also a crucial one where they decide the percentage of each coffee to be used for the blend. This is so that each factor that the roaster wants to highlight in the final product comes through perfectly. 

After several iterations or going back and forth to tweak the blend recipe, the roaster decides on the perfect ratio.

Once the preliminary details are set, it's time to roast the coffee. Roasters may choose to pre-blend or post-blend the beans. 

What this means is that, if the roaster is choosing a Colombian single origin and a Brazilian single origin, they can either mix the two green beans and then roast the whole batch together or roast each green bean separately and then blend them together. 

how do roasters create blends

With pre-blending, there is a possibility that some beans may not be developed properly because every single origin has specific characteristics and is likely to react in a certain way to the heat. 

Post-blending often gives better results as each bean is roasted to its best potential before being blended. Think of it as nurturing individual students separately in a manner that suits them best so that when they are working on a team project, they each contribute towards securing a great result.

What Roasters Consider When Crafting Blends

We have a dedicated post about how roasters identify sensory profile in coffee. These approaches play an important role even in the case of blends. 

The three foremost aspects that roasters consider when crafting blends are the aroma, taste, and feel (texture) of the coffee. 

By using one single origin as the base coffee and introducing 1-2 other coffees as accents, roasters can produce a blend that is in line with their (and their customers’) expectations.

They strive to ensure that each coffee within the blend is roasted to the degree where it achieves the best flavour extraction.

Ultimately, blends are crafted to fill a gap that single origins can’t. Whether one is better than the other is entirely a subjective matter.

We highly recommend that you get yourself both single origins and blends to discover just how interesting the world of coffee is.

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