Blending Coffee - Coffee Blends - How to Blend Coffee Beans

Like wine, coffee offers a variety of subtle taste differences depending on where the coffee was grown. Added to these differences, each region's beans can be roasted in a range from light to dark which gives a further taste dimension. By blending coffee beans from different regions, and in different roasts, you have an infinite choice of flavors that you can create to match your palate exactly.

If you buy from a specialist coffee supplier, you can almost certainly buy coffee beans sourced from all over the world in small quantities. This will enable you to embark on an adventure in coffee blending, over a period of perhaps several months, until you find your favorite blend.

Of course, it always pays to try your supplier's house blends for a start, as they will have been developed by experts and tested on your local market to provide a range of blends that matches the palate of the local market. You should not feel constrained to just these blends. They are, by definition, designed to appeal to the average coffee drinker, and not necessarily to your personal preferences. Explore them to see what tastes you prefer and what beans are providing what characteristics, then start refining them by mixing in other beans with desirable features.

Each coffee has strengths and weaknesses and blending is an art. By complementing the strength of one coffee with the strength of another your aim is to get the best of all worlds. You may find you need only three or four coffees, or perhaps a dozen, to attain your ideal, each in different relative quantities. As in art, perfection is subtle and elusive, which is all part of the fun and challenge of coffee blending. Once you are satisfied with your blend, the idea is that you have a mix of beans that you can easily replicate to maintain a consistent blend.

What are you looking for in combining different beans? A coffee with a good level of acidity may lack aroma. One with a good aroma may lack body. One with a good body may lack color. Your first step in learning to blend coffee is to be able to distinguish these differences for each coffee. That done, you can then work on finding combinations that complement each other and provide a blend that brings out the strength of each coffee.

A full-bodied Mysore coffee from Southern India might blend well with the distinctive aroma of Ethiopian Mocha, for example. A flavorful Colombian coffee could be strengthened with the sharper acidity and "bite" of a Kenyan coffee. A smooth and satisfying mild Costa Rican coffee may benefit from a little of the heavier mellow flavor of a dark roasted Sumatra coffee, without adding too much acidity. Any of these blends may be sweetened with the addition of some coffee from Venezuela or Haiti into the blend. You may choose to stick with Arabica beans, but should you add some Robusta beans to your blend to improve the crema you get from your espresso machine?

Seasonal and estate differences may have an effect on coffees, but regional differences are fairly consistent. The age of the beans may have a bigger effect on differences than the growing season. Accordingly your blend may perform consistently from year to year, but you may need to explore variations and refine your choices. These variations add to the blending interest.