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Blended Coffee vs Single Origin

For many coffee drinkers when we go down the store aisle to get our coffee supply for our daily fix, we’re assaulted by at least a couple dozen different brands with all their blend variations. Often we’re confused by labels that proclaim, “Fair Trade”, “Organic”, “Single Origin” etc.  So if we’re in a hurry we just grab one of the old standbys we grew up with. 

However, if we take the time to explore the differences we can open a whole new doorway to the world of coffee taste and flavor we didn’t know was there.   Why bother, you ask?   Well, as a roaster and having been in love with coffee forever… I want to educate our customers on a better taste experience they can have with just a little experimenting.  Another reason is that while in the VFW the other day, one of our members came in and asked if we had instant coffee in our offerings.  After wiping the look of disgust off my face, I asked why the heck was he drinking instant when there are so many good coffees out there to drink?  His reply made sense in a way.  He liked coffee and wanted his fix in the morning, but so many of the cafeteria style coffees he had tried always tasted the same. So why waste time brewing coffee and waiting when he could just boil some water quickly and pour in some instant.  In his experience with so many blah coffees, it wasn’t worth his time anymore.  LoL.   So my micro mission is to get him to experience some good coffee, Smokin Gun of course!

So how do they make all these coffees, let’s take a look:

When creating a blended coffee, the roaster takes the best qualities of several different coffees and makes a coffee that can meet the taste profile and expectations of his customers.  That coffee can have so many different flavor profiles it is often a surprise to many conventional coffee drinkers. Many of us grew up drinking coffee produced for the masses. Made to be purchased fairly cheap, brewed quickly and drank hot so as not to notice the taste of cheap beans as long as we get our morning shot of caffeine.  

Some coffee drinkers prefer a bolder, more expressive coffee, especially if that’s what they’ve grown up drinking.  Deep dark flavors, strong body, but ensuring that the flavor will last throughout is the key to making a good coffee. Building a blend that fits the profile for your customers only makes sense for both the roaster and the coffee shops that serve that customer base.   

A medium roast blend can fit the profile for those who don’t prefer such a bold, strong start and finish.  These coffees when properly roasted can provide a great flavor and have enough body throughout, yet leave a crisp clean finish without drying out your mouth.   

The key to any blend made is to ensure that the coffee tastes as good from the start to the finish.  That includes even when the brew has cooled.  The coffee should taste as good at the finish as at the start.  If not;  they were older beans, too much Robusta, or a lower grading coffee has been snuck into the blend to lower the per pound cost to increase profit margin. 

The roaster/creator of the blend also has to take into account how the coffee will be made as well.  Whether it is made with a drip machine, a k-pod or a pour over, the coffee has to maintain its flavor, body and finish.  This takes some extensive testing by brewing with all the aforementioned brew methods to get the ratios correct.

Single origin coffees have their place as well.  A single origin can have the complexity of blends but may not fit everyone’s taste profile.  The taste profiles can fit what a certain coffee purist might look for, but if you haven’t tried single origins before you might just pour it down the sink.  It’s been for me at least, to taste the full flavor of a single origin with a pour over style of making coffee.  With the proper grind size, using a pour over style can bring out all the flavors of a single origin and open up a whole new world of coffee drinking.  Most single origins should be a medium roast if you are new to trying these styles of coffees. Light roasts can make you think you’re drinking grass if you don’t have your brewing methods perfected yet. 

Origin of the coffee plays a big role in the whole single origin theme as well:

 African coffees  are grown at higher altitudes with longer growing seasons.  These coffees tend to have a more - fruity and wine taste notes and are a thinner bodied coffee on the tongue similar to what tea would be like. Think clean, crisp, citrus flavors with higher acidity. 

South American coffees excluding Brazil,  generally have smoother, richer flavors. Chocolate, nutty with a buttery note is the hallmark here.  Lower acidity and a base for many blends.  Brazilian coffee is a lowland coffee that is great for me at a medium dark roast to get that nutty flavor. Very low acidity.

Central American coffees make for a balanced cup, medium acidity with chocolate and caramel notes. Many coffees from this region are grown at high altitudes and have that sweetness and full ruit flavor that are noted in African coffees. 

Pacific coffees can be very diverse but are known for their earthiness with flavor notes of spice, dark chocolate, almond and plum. We love coffees from this region as they roast well and have great flavor from medium to dark roast. 

So thanks for reading today and don’t hesitate to try some new coffees in your tasting journey.  You might be surprised at what you discover.  Next time we’ll talk about brew methods and how to get the most flavor out of your brew. 

De Opresso Liber  - one cup at a time.