Blending Coffee. I had an interesting experience at a coffee cafe

My spousal-unit and I took off a few days and went up to Napa and did some exploring.

I have a coffee travel kit that I take with me on these (and Business) trips and have an Aeropress and other components in the “Coffee Duffel”.

I realized part way through that I may not have packed enough coffee and as we were walking around St. Helena, we came across a Coffee shop that boasted coffee roasting.

We went in and I was looking at their chalk board listing of coffees and some of thier blends. I started talking to one of the guys behind the counter and asked him about his blends. they had a few on the counter, but none that I was particularily interested in. Most of them were on the darker side. He told me that they have 118 blends and handed me a “book” with a listing of all of the different blends that they sell. I handed it back to him immediatly. I was not going to look at descriptions of 118 blends.

I chose one of the blends that they had on their chalk board. He then pulled out HIS blend book and then started going to different hoppers and pulling out and weighing the beans into a bowl. It was then I realized what they were doing. They had a dozen or so single origin coffees roasted to different levels that they keep on hand and they build their “blends” as needed. An interesting concept. I personally doubt if I could tell the difference between 118 blends, But it got me thinking. (oh no, not again)

I realized that I could do the same thing for my home coffee pantry and include blend recipes when I send out coffee to friends and family based upon the beans that I send them.
I sometimes make some blends for my friends and get good reviews from them. This self blending might be a way for them to take some ownership of their coffee experience.

The guy behind the counter asked me if I wanted whole bean. I told him “No, ground, half way between drip and espresso”
He ground it “half way between espresso and espresso” LOL

Anyways: an interesting idea.

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I have been playing around with blends. I have two. Only 116 to go.


118 blend recipe book??? :astonished:

However their method seems sound. I had been thinking of blending and blending post-roast was the approach I had been thinking about to better control the cup profile. But alas… never got to it!

I cannot be certain about this but I think some of the big coffee 3rd wave roasters do post-roast blend as I can see the different colored beans. Not sure if it is Philz or Counter Culture that does it post roast.

But @billc you didn’t tell us how the cup was :slight_smile:

The cup was darker than I normally prefer. It was supposed to be chocolatley and sweet and wasn’t.
I couldn’t see exaclty what he was blending but the majority was Guatamalan, with some Mexican beans and some Suamtran, and something else (I couldn’t see)

It was drinkable, but not remarkable.

I really couldn’t taste the chocolate.

Another interesting thing that I have noted over the years is that different coffee roasting houses are typically either dark or a mix of light, medium, and dark. This house was definitaly on the darker side.

Coffe roasters and restaurants really need to figure out what the customer wants and not try to persuade them that they are coffee heathens.

At the end of the day, the best coffee is the coffee that you like to drink. The best wine is the wine that you like to drink.

I blend mine from seperate bags just prior to grinding. If I tried to blend a large amount together it would drive me crazy. Are the beans in the right percentage. I think at least some blenders blend by cupping & put a spoon of this & a spoon of that until they get the taste they want & then blend the percentages. I would like to learn cupping but I would have to attend a class for hands on in order to satisfy myself. I other thing Does someone sell small batches of roasted beans at different roast levels to test roast analyzers. I thought I once saw some but have been unable to find them.

If you go to Onyx coffee labs, they have a lot of the Agtron Vaues for their coffees.

I ordered some minimal amounts of their coffees when I was calibrating my DIY roast analyzer.

Thanks Bill. That will help. I used an Ethiopian roast of yours as a basis for my 800g roasts. A little tweaking but I was surprised how close the events were for two different coffees. I now have confidence for larger roasts which seemed easieer that the smaller roasts. Again thanks.

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@billc I agree that most of the time when I buy beans to try there is a tendency to be on the dark side - I think there is a few things at play here (my theory): in some cases it hides defects and then there is the factor that the majority of people drink coffee with loads of sugar (or the fake sugar) and cream/dairy/…milk products - the only way to still taste “coffee” is a dark roast unfortunately.

It’s too bad it didn’t meet expectations for the price you paid.

@rtuttlejr that’s how I “blend” mine when I have 3 to 5 types of beans left and none would make a full cup so I just toss them into my grinder :laughing: I didn’t have a method to this other than use it up. Some day when I have more time I will be more methodical about it. And once you roast 800g or even 1kg you will find you don’t want to go back to 500g or less batches. :slight_smile:

Happy Roasting!

I saw a comment somewhere that this roaster would store the beans he was going to blend pre roast together for a period of time so that the water content would equalize. Sorry but I don’t remember the exact details.

I think that this is the most efficient way to develop blends.

Start with good single origin roasts and then brew and blend the liquid until you get the flavor profile that you want, then document the percentages.

I agree. I read somewhere that 80% or more of Strabucks coffee drinks sold have some sort of milk and sweetener in it.

Even George Howell said in one of his videos that when he is travelling he will sometimes buy coffee in airports and add milk and cream.

I especially agree with the thought of some companies over-roast to hide defects.

I think that another factor is that historically most of the households that we grew up in brewed dark Robusta coffee. (Folgers) and that dark roast smell and flavor is what we associate with our mental memory of coffee.

It took me a long time to train myself to like lighter roasts.