Coffee Blends: Flavor Profiles in Harmony

Hi! My name is Arne. Having spent years working as a barista I'm now on a mission to bring more good coffee to the people. To that end, my team and I provide you with a broad knowledge base on the subject of coffee.

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I’ll wager that your chosen coffee roaster offers a signature house blend, a breakfast blend and maybe a mocha java blend. Yet, what is the method behind selecting and harmonizing these coffee blends? As a coffee market connoisseur, I often want a perfect coffee blend in my mug!

I’ll wager that your chosen coffee roaster offers a signature house blend, a breakfast blend and maybe a mocha java blend. Yet, what is the method behind selecting and harmonizing these coffee blends? As a coffee market connoisseur, I often want a perfect coffee blend in my mug!

Learning about coffee beans grown in specific regions and their flavor profiles is key. Equally important is knowing which varieties of beans highlight or complement each other. Ultimately, a perfect coffee blend does not overdo one type of coffee bean or cause two notes to battle one another.

Let’s explore coffee blends vs single origin coffees to whet your palate. Will you join me in trying out some new blends?

Overview: Coffee Blends Explained

Coffee blending is a way to create consistent results within a balanced and desirable flavor profile. So, what characterizes a specialty coffee blend? Coffee bean flavor profiles involve a range of subtle notes, from light and fruity to dark and robust. Coffee blends may vary from a bright breakfast blend to a rich, chocolatey holiday blend.

Roasting Fresh Coffee Beans By Hand

Remarkably, blended coffee made its debut in the 17th Century. This was the mocha java blend: an enchanting harmony of chocolatey Indonesian Java and bright Arabian mocha. Back in the day, European merchants frequented a port city in Yemen called Mokha, or Mocha. Thus, the first coffee blend was born!

Italian espresso is another primo example of a blended coffee. Hailing from the 19th Century, espresso became a staple after World War II, when quality green coffee was scarce. Old coffee was transformed into espresso using high-pressure extraction methods. And presto – low quality beans turned into a specialty coffee blend!

Incidentally, coffee blends are often refined over time. A fastidious roaster may perfect their espresso blend over the span of many years. Coffee blending is a professional art, resulting in establishing a desired flavor profile. After all, I want assurance that my coffee will deliver a consistent quality of brew, each and every time!

What to Look For in a Specialty Blend

Ethiopian Green

First and foremost, I need to know my roaster’s practices. Is there transparent information provided, regarding cultivation conditions, roast date (non-expired coffee) and quality control? Once the roaster has established my trust, I am ready to try their signature blend.

When a roaster creates their own blends, each may contain 2-4 types of coffee beans in proven proportions. These coffee beans are either sourced from different regions or different countries.

Dual-origin coffee, such as the beloved mocha java, is popularly found in a 50/50 ratio of Yemeni coffee and Indonesian coffee. Still, there are always exceptions.

An example of a more complex coffee blend is 50% Brazilian Arabica beans, 25% Guatemalan Arabica beans and 25% Ethiopian coffee beans.

A successful coffee blend delivers a consistent flavor profile to coffee drinkers. The appeal behind coffee blends is simply this: the blends prove to be flavorful and balanced, the coffee roasts are dependable and they produce a delicious cup.

Why Do Roasters Blend Coffee?

Roasters love coffee blends because they offer a consistent quality of brew for their coffee shops. Every coffee roaster crafts a signature blend to produce a delicious result. Coffee roasters usually offer house blends – which are essentially just the popular blends that people order the most!

“Cupping” is a technique whereby professionals appraise a coffee’s qualities and characteristics. In this way, a roaster determines how different coffee notes will harmonize in coffee blends. The objective here is to offer balance and consistency.

Coffee roasters create blends to achieve a proven balance of flavor and richness throughout the year. In contrast, results from single origin coffee beans are more variable and seasonal.

To follow are a few reasons why roasters seek to achieve a consistent specialty coffee blend.

Benefits of Buying Coffee Blends

Handfilter Barista Arne

Most coffee drinkers know if they prefer their coffee blend to be a light, medium or dark roast. This may vary with the season or the time of day. My advice? Go to your local roaster and try their signature blends: house espresso, breakfast blends and various blend recipes. This is the way to determine which blend you want to brew at home.

It matters whether your intended brew method is espresso, French press or pour-over. Many coffee drinkers like to talk to a barista about their intended brew at home. Your barista can assist you in dialing in which blend will offer the most consistent results.

Now to let you in on some of my personal favorite coffee blends. A tried and true coffee to offer guests is a Mayan blend. Being that the Mayan civilization once spanned from Mexico to Honduras, this is one comprehensive coffee! Characteristics of this signature blend are notes of chocolate with floral undertones and a smooth finish.

Feeling more adventurous? As you might imagine, an African blend containing Ethiopian and Central African coffees offers an entirely different flavor profile. Notes of golden raisin, blueberry jam and lemon zest are contained within this medium roast blend. Spanning a massive continent, this coffee can’t be considered a “single origin blend.”

Coffee Blends vs Single Origin Coffee

Unripe coffee cherries

Simply put, a single origin coffee label is based on location: Ethiopia, Tanzania, Brazil or Kenya coffee, to name a handful. Nevertheless, one region can offer a stunning range of flavor profiles. Case in point: Ethiopian coffee from the Yirgacheffe region is hailed for its fruity and floral notes of tart apple and fragrant jasmine.

Ideally, a farmer will cultivate several coffee varieties in order to safeguard their crop against weather, disease or pests. A more specific definition of single origin coffees is a variety of coffee beans produced on a single farm, or terroir. Sustainable agricultural practices encourage a variety of beans on the same producing farm.

Single origin beans may hail from different farms in the same producing region. To illustrate, a single origin Indonesian Sumatra is often sourced from microlots in the same volcanic region, known as the terroir. Its complex and full flavor profile allows it to stand alone as a stellar single origin coffee.

In general, many Central American beans make excellent single source espressos. Whereas most South American coffee beans are better off in a balanced blend. A successful blend might consist of a variety of South American beans. Or perhaps a blend with African, Asian and Arabian coffee achieves the desired flavor profile.

Coffee blends hail from a combination of different regions or countries. A balanced synergy of global flavor profiles is found in a blend of various beans. Conversely, single origin coffees hail from the same country or region and rely solely upon their own merits.

A Note on Espresso Blends

Espresso Glas mit Bohnen

Costa Rican, Salvadoran and Guatemalan beans make stellar single origin espressos. 

While there’s no such thing as an espresso bean or roast (as they are just coffee beans), there is such a thing as an espresso blend.

By the same token, an espresso blend is simply a coffee blend roasted to work especially well in an espresso machine! You heard me right. Espresso beans are the same as regular coffee beans, optimized for an espresso drink!

Espresso is a highly complex beverage which is often diluted with water or milk in coffee shops. Accordingly, roasters strive to balance the flavors of an espresso blend for versatility. An espresso blend ideally stands on its own as a black coffee. Yet it will also be positively impacted by the addition of milk for a cappuccino or water for an americano.

Did you ever dream that an espresso blend could contain notes of chocolate, praline and caramel all at once? The next logical step is to brew your own espresso at home. Come, let us geek out on the best beans for automatic espresso machines. The subtleties in beans optimized for espresso blends are vast.

Final Thoughts

Ready to venture out into the vast and flavorful world of coffee blends? Beyond your basic breakfast blend, your first mocha java from your local roaster is sure to bowl you over with flavor! Sample a cup of history with enchanting coffee blends hailing back across centuries.

Conversely, a single origin coffee used to prepare espresso may delight you! Sure, it might not taste as balanced as a blend, but it’s almost guaranteed to be extraordinary. Anyway, I’m pretty confident you are now enlightened in any regional distinctions you’ll read on a coffee label.

With that said, it is important to note that coffee beans display inherent flavor profiles, such as the caramel sweetness of El Salvadoran coffee. Natural flavors are different from an artificial caramel flavor additive. Please don’t forget to read all sourcing information, ingredients and roasting dates on your coffee blends!

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this article. What’s your favorite coffee blend? I look forward to your comments!

Coffee Blends FAQ

A coffee blend usually consists of 2-4 types of coffee beans, sourced either from different regions in the same country or different countries, in order to achieve a balance in flavor.

This varies based on the complexity of each bean. A mocha java consists of Yemeni coffee and Indonesian beans. Whereas a Mayan blend consists of Honduran, Guatemalan and Mexican coffee beans.

The four types of coffee are Arabica, Robusta, Excelsa and Liberica.

Yes! When you formulate your coffee blend, start with equal ratios of each coffee bean. If any flavor is competing with the others, tweak as needed to achieve a balance of flavor.

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Arne Preuss

Hi! My name is Arne. Having spent years working as a barista I'm now on a mission to bring more good coffee to the people. To that end, my team and I provide you with a broad knowledge base on the subject of coffee.

More about Arne Preuss

Hi! My name is Arne. Having spent years working as a barista I'm now on a mission to bring more good coffee to the people. To that end, my team and I provide you with a broad knowledge base on the subject of coffee.

More about Arne Preuss

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