We all know that a great single origin coffee is a treat but there is a lot to celebrate in a perfectly balanced blend. While all roasters strive to skillfully guide each bean to its highest degree of balance and complexity, blending requires a thorough mastery of a) each bean’s natural dominant, secondary, and tertiary qualities and b) an understanding of how these qualities interact with qualities in other beans. In many ways, roasting is like being a master chef — to optimize your ingredients, you need to understand which elements are best represented solo and which shine when mixed.
Often, our most beloved coffees, such as espresso, are blends. Blends, in addition to allowing the roaster to create one-of-a-kind, memorable coffees, allow for year-round consistency. Unlike single origin coffees, which are typically harvested in small, limited batches, blends allow you to use a combination of high-quality, shade grown arabica ‘staples’ such as a Brazilian, a Colombian Excelso, or a Guatemalan. Blends typically contain between 3 – 5 coffees and can be blended either pre-roast or post-roast. In pre-roast blending, all beans are roasted to a uniform shade; in post-roast blends, different beans are often roasted to different shades. Additionally, roasts can involve more than one coffee of origin such as an African and a Central or two different roasts of the same coffee, say a Vienna roasted Colombian Campesina blended with a full-city roasted Colombian Campesina.
At Mills/QB, we treat blending as an art and strive to capture the very best elements of our favorite coffees in unique ways. If you want to try some blends, here are some favorites to get you started!
Mills 1860 Blend: Pre-roast blend with beans from Central America (El Salvadoran or Guatemalan to provide rich, complex citrus tones and a marvelous aroma), Colombia (creates excellent body and textural richness), and Brazil (acts as a bridge that unites the tonal and textural characteristics of the Central and the Colombian). Powerful, crisp apple overtones, hints of lemon, and a strong, smooth base make this a perfect anytime coffee.
Seattle Express: Post-roast blend with beans from Colombia (provides a rich aroma), Kenya (the most dominant bean, adds a lively, crisp brightness), and Peru (adds sweet overtones and acidic balance). With strong overtones of dark chocolate, blackberry, and a full-bodied merlot and undertones of charred oak, bitter cocoa, and pepper, this blend will have you coming back for more!
Espresso Joe: Pre-roast blend with beans from Brazil (provides solid base notes, a creamy texture, and crema), Colombia (creates a rich texture and deep aroma), Kenya (infuses the cup with a crisp brightness), Peru (offers sweet overtones and acidic balance), and Sumatra (the most dominant bean, adds earthiness, power, depth, and spice). This rich, dark, and flavorful espresso is complex with deep burgundy wine, dried cherries, and charred oak tones and a creamy, maple-syrup texture.
Do you like to create your own, at-home blend? If so, we would love to hear what your favorite combinations are! Wishing you a great week!