The Power of the Coffee Blend: Use it Wisely

To date most of my amateur cupping has been single-origin coffees.  This is because it was suggested to me, and it’s naturally easier to evaluate a coffee’s taste and mouth-feel profile when you are only tasting one type of bean.  Cupping single-origins also helps you to better understand the overall strengths, differences and nuances of the world’s major coffee-growing regions.

In fact, I’d read how coffee blends sometimes contain inferior Robusta beans as “filler” to give a blend extra kick, heft and body.  But the tactic is regarded as a cheap trick and is kinda frowned upon by the coffee elite.  From that article, I think I got the idea that “all blending is bad.”  Quite the contrary, apparently!  Researching this post, I came across another article, which described coffee blending as an art that “optimizes the body, aroma, and flavors of single-origins in order to create new tastes.”

I searched my own experiences, and realized I already knew a great example of this – it’s my father’s signature blend: he likes to brew a pot of coffee using three scoops of a bold, strong coffee with one scoop of cherry-chocolate flavored coffee.  Every time I taste it, it kind of stops me in my tracks; it’s really good.  And, every once in a while, when I need an extra treat to help me meet a challenge, I scale back the size of one of the scoops I put into my French press and substitute in anywhere from a half-to-a-third scoop of cherry chocolate.  Instant yum, my friends!  When I combine a full-bodied blend of Latin American and Asia Pacific coffees with a touch of the cherry chocolate, the dominant note is buttery (which I love), but then the cherry-choc hits you in a formidable dose of aftertaste.  Really Choice.

This experiment went so well, I tried another.  I mixed some single-origin Guatemalan with a single-origin Kenyan into abiscotti coffee blend.”  The Kenyan, I’ve already written about how much I loved it.  And the Guatemalan, I haven’t written about it yet, but I cupped some last week.  Both had buttery notes, which I’m discovering is a taste note I really enjoy.  Mmmm,…buttery.  The way the individual coffees interacted…it was as if they were pushing each other to be the best they could be.  Like, a chemical reaction of sorts that produced some kind of turbo-charged buttery goodness, stronger than either coffee had alone.

Alright, I thought.  If I liked the cherry-choc and bold blend combo, and I liked the Kenyan-Guatemalan mixture, then surely I’ll love a cherry chocolate-Kenyan-Guatemalan coffee blend, right?  WRONG !!   Couldn’t be more wrong, actually.  Total train wreck.  Everything just clashed, and the resulting taste was horrifically flat.

So?  Interesting lesson learned.  Behold the power of the coffee blend.  I’ll continue to try blending, but I suspect it will be hit or miss until I learn how to taste coffees more carefully.  That means….back to single-origins I go.

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