What is a coffee blend?

Understand the difference between blends and single origins

So what is a blend?

When diving into the world of coffee, you’ll come across two different terms, a lot. Those terms are ‘single origin coffee’ and ‘blend of coffee’, but what’s the real difference between the two?

Simply put, a blend of coffee is when a coffee roaster gets two different single origin coffee beans and mixes them together to create a unique blend of coffee. This will produce a flavour unique to the different single origin coffees which have been used.

Single origin coffees

As the name implies, single origin coffee beans are from one source. That doesn’t mean they’re from one country, for example Kenya, but one ‘plot’. This means that the beans grown are of the same crop, graded the same, harvested at the same time and washed together.

Why is this a good thing? Getting your beans from a single crop is a celebration within the specialty coffee community as it showcases the purest flavours and most notable profiles.

Some coffee companies will define a single origin being from a the same country. The problem with that is many different countries have different climates depending on where you are, meaning the beans will grow with differently. If we look at Brazil as an example, you could find a micro-plot in a rain forest, or on the side of a mountain with high altitude, both playing vital parts in the production of the green bean.

A blend isn’t always a good thing

Now, because our coffee roasting is centred around high quality coffee beans, we focus at the moment on single origin coffee.

Traditionally, blends have been created to mask the flavour of the beans and to produce a darker roast. The reason being is that many blends are created using a robusta coffee, which essentially is a bag filler.

To get your hands on a one kilogram bag of robuta coffee beans in the wholesale market would set you back around £1.50. So you can see how it’s used as an effective bean to increase profit margins. As the price is so cheap, it’s no wonder coffee giants tend to use robusta coffee to increase their profits. Because robusta coffee has been used at the start of the coffee-shop growth, it’s meant that palettes aren’t used to the notes found in specialty coffee. This is part of the reason why someone who hasn’t experiences high quality beans before might find the initial tasting a little odd!

Using specialty beans to create a blend

Within the specialty community, blends are often created with different high quality coffee beans to produce a unique and complex profile. This is done by tasting each of the coffees, noting their uniqueness and deciding what they would pair well with.

To create a specialty blend, you would need to decide which single origin coffees pair well together, decide the proportionality for example, 20% Kenya AA and 80% Costa Rica, roast the batch and taste using the cupping technique. Once you’re happy with the blend and proportions you’ve set, you can properly profile the coffee and keep a note of what you liked.

Cafes will often want a specialty blend creating because they want to offer something unique to their customers. It’s a good selling point however, it can become a little more expensive because the time taken to find the right blend isn’t a quick process.

Now you know the difference, it’s time to start exploring different coffees. We have seven different single origin coffees you can choose from, we’d love to hear what’s your favourite single origin.

Wholesale coffee blends

Whenever we speak to coffee shop owners who are looking to switch to specialty coffee beans, we always get asked about creating a ‘special blend’. As we’ve outlined in this article, blends of coffee aren’t always a bad thing when time has been taken to profile two different single origin coffee beans that may compliment one another. The problem here is when coffee roasters supply a generic blend but label it as a unique blend of coffee.

How can you be sure? Ask your supplier what makes up the roast they’re supplying. If a coffee roaster is supplying a special blend, they will likely be more than happy to show you the roasting process. Here at Seven Districts Coffee, we welcome and want our wholesale customers to experience what goes into roasting coffee. Looking for a supplier? Get in touch with us today!

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