What Is Blended Coffee?

What Is Blended Coffee?

Posted by Mark Bentham, The Coffee Man on 26th Mar 2019

Blended coffee is 2 or more coffee varieties blended together. You can blend coffees from the same region, or coffees from different growing regions. Coffee can be blended Pre-Roast, meaning the beans are blended and then roasted, or Post-Roast, meaning the coffee is roasted then blended.

Blending coffee is a fine art that marries coffee beans from different origins to enhance the best qualities of each bean. We like to choose coffees that complement each other.

For example, we like to blend a delicate flavoured coffee with a coffee that shows a high citrus acidity. Also a light bodied bean to one with smooth chocolate notes and a full, velvety mouth feel.

At Kimberley Coffee Company, we blend or beautiful green beans by hand to a well-tested mix,  then roast to the second crack.

Why would you blend different varieties of coffee together?

Well, as per the above example, it means you can combine and compliment flavours and aromas to create a more complex and interesting coffee brew. It enables you to add more body to a simple, clean single origin. We can make a coffee deep and rich but also with a citrus acidity. By blending single origin coffee, you can tailor the batch of coffee beans to precisely match your preferences by choosing coffees that complement and enhance each other.

There are three major reasons that coffee roasters might create coffee blends: to reduce costs, to provide a consistent cup profile and to create unique, signature style coffees, such as our BroomeCourthouse Blend or the award winning Mintaka blend.

Economically, blending coffees makes sense for large commercial roasters, who frequently combine cheaper coffees with more expensive specialty beans to reduce the cost of their offerings. Consistency is also of particular importance to large roasters and distributors. Customers like and expect a brand of coffee to taste the same from one cup to the next. Since qualities like body and flavour can differ markedly between farms, regions and even harvests from the same farms, one way the bigger commercial coffee companies ensure consistent flavour is to blend coffees from several different regions in order to minimise the differences among them. The result, if the blend is not carefully researched, is a bland (though they’ll call it balanced) cup of coffee with no predominant flavour notes.

While consistency may be one of the factors considered when specialty and artisan or boutique roasters blend coffees as well, their main goal in blending is to create a specific flavour profile. This is where the true artistry of coffee blending lies—in discovering and melding the unique qualities of two or more coffees to create a new coffee that is more than the sum of its parts.

Small batch, boutique roasters like Kimberley Coffee Company aren’t the only ones experimenting with signature coffee blends these days. As more and more coffee aficionados delve into coffee cupping and roasting their own coffees at home it’s becoming common for them to try their hands at creating their own coffee blends.

If you’re into your home roasting and interested in creating your own signature coffee blends, you’ll need a basic understanding of coffee flavours and cup qualities as well as an intimate knowledge of your own likes and preferences in coffee. Different roasts, regions, and methods of preparation lead to uncountable permutations of the simple cup of coffee.

Where does a blended coffee work best?

Blended coffees are often best used in coffee makers or espresso machines. This blended variety of coffee works really well with milk making it the preferred choice for espresso based drinks such as lattes or cappuccinos. Our Mintaka Organic blend is absolutely our star child of milk based coffees. We are proud to have won many awards for this organic blend.

Unlike its nuanced, single origin bean cousins, blended coffees tend to have a rounded, harmonious taste. Espresso machines will magnify the flavours of the coffee by forcing hot water through fine grounds at high pressures. This results in a bolder flavour extraction which is perfect for blends.

The New Wave of Blended Coffee

If you look back through history, you can see how blended coffee has sometimes been given
a negative connotation. Coffee has always been desirable wherever it was introduced, but when shipping and growing the beans was a major endeavour, it was actually a luxurious commodity.

Coffees were blended originally as a means to reduce costs (by mixing a fine roast with something not quite as palatable), and blends were also the best way to hedge bets against failing weather or “lost” shipments – by not relying on a single source, things were safer in uncertain times. In addition to these logistical measures, coffees were often blended as a necessity, such as with poor regions, or distant colonies with sporadic commerce. In Vietnam, for example, coffee was scarce, so the finished brew was heavily mixed with milk and sugar to mask any unfavourable tastes.

Naturally, all of this blending as a matter of cost or scarcity meant that the process earned a bad reputation. All of this has changed, however, with the rise of the new wave coffee movement.

While many modern coffee lovers still feel that a single origin coffee can produce the most consistent and flavourful cup, there's also much to be said of exploring modern boutique blends. With a growing focus on the “seed-to-cup” concept comes improvements in quality across the board. Blending coffee is no longer a matter of saving money, but an exploration of flavour chemistry. Today's roasters are using their experience and talents to combine fine single origin coffees into complex, unique blends that offer all of the decadence and quality of their base parts while adding “something extra” for us to enjoy.

While 'single origin' is the current biggest coffee trend, thanks to passionate roasters and the ability for diversification of flavours (check out our star single origin, the La Jacoba), blends could very well become the new standard of coffee excellence, and are a joy to experiment with because of the nicely balanced flavours.

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