Should you enjoy a nice blended coffee or do you feel like going with a solo bean today?
So first of all, Let’s start with the basics, what is the difference between the two?
If you have a single origin coffee that means that all of the beans in the bag have come from one specific area. For instance: Ethiopia.
A blended coffee is made by mixing coffee from from different regions together to achieve a certain flavor.
Something that I think is interesting with single origin coffee is that depending on how the roaster purchased the beans you might actually still be getting a blend in a way.
Hear me out on this.
Although you are buying the beans from the same area this doesn’t guarantee that all of these beans have come from the same farm or are the same variety.
Lots of times roasters will buy green coffee from a broker who usually gets the beans from a central station where the beans are processed for shipment.
That means all of the surrounding farms are shipping their coffee to that hub.
Not every farm has the same environmental conditions as the next farm, there are micro climates within a larger climate.Also, each farm may have different care giving protocols. One might fertilize or harvest in a different way than the next guy Altering the taste.
Not only that but there are different varieties of coffee as well.
Depending on how your single origin is labelled you might not actually be getting only one type of bean from one specific farm. If your coffee is just labeled Ethiopian how do you know where it came from within the country?
So, If you look at it on a farm to farm basis you kind of are getting a blend when you think you are only getting a single origin.
This is however, starting to change. Lots of roasters are beginning to develop personal relationships with certain farmers through direct trade agreements where both parties work towards the same goal: better coffee.
Most roasters are proud to tell you that they have direct trade agreements, It usually signifies a better cup of coffee for you.
The point of that was, if you want to get a TRUE single origin I think you should look for roasters with direct trade agreements with their farmers.
You may run into some purists when it comes to single origin coffees. They love single origin coffee so much that they seem to almost take it as a personal insult when you maybe think that blending isn’t such a bad thing.
They think that by blending coffee you are doing the bean an injustice! you shouldn’t ruin a coffee by mixing it with another coffee.
hey, I get it, each coffee is special. You don’t want to take away from it’s uniqueness.
To be honest I enjoy a good single origin coffee myself! However,I almost use drinking single origin coffee as a tool.
I like to drink single origin coffee to discover what each bean has to offer, really getting to know what flavors and smells this bean is bringing to the table.
By really appreciating and getting to know what each different coffee bean tastes like I think that you will then be able to tell what blends are really going to taste good. Or, make up some pretty amazing blends yourself if you feel like roasting at home.
Have you seen some of the flavors they are coming up with these days?
Dark Chocolate Pie?! REALLY!?
This isn’t just that added flavor crap,like french vanilla or hazelnut that has been made with chemicals to enhance their flavor.
These high quality blends are made by taking the best of what each bean has to offer and letting them all work together with their strengths to create a truly unique experience.
When you come across a roaster that really knows what they are doing with their blends it can lead to a really amazing cup of coffee.
Roasting to these guys is a culinary art. Almost like they are adding different spices to make that perfect dish. Or in this case, brew!
There is a debate going on within the coffee community about how to properly blend coffee. Do you mix the green beans and roast them together? Or do you mix after roasting the beans? Do you make all of the beans the same roast level?
Well, first off I want to say that if you’re not interesting in roasting coffee but still want to blend coffee you can simply mix your already brewed coffee together. Half and half or get really fancy and mix three different brewed coffees together! Thanks to Joe at Cafe Imports for that tip!
If you are interested in being an amazing home barista some of the answers to these questions might actually be really important when it comes to brewing. Joe and Dave bring up some interesting points during episode 5 of roasters school as they talk about Holiday blends.
Towards the end of the episode they begin to discuss pre-roast vs post-roast blending. I think they have a pretty valid argument, They are proponents for pre roast blending. Although the more popular method among roasters is to blend post-roast.
Lots of roasters prefer to blend their coffee after roasting because they feel that each bean has to be taken to a certain roast level to really pull out it’s best characteristics.
One thing that is not taken into account with post roast blending is grinding this coffee.
The further into a roast you go the more brittle the bean will be in the end, this can affect the grind consistency if you’re mixing coffees together that are roasted at different levels. The beans that are more brittle will break apart easier while grinding giving you a finer grind than a bean that is harder, or roasted lighter.The finer the grind the easier it is to extract the flavors, which isn’t always a good thing.This can create a clash of flavors and can be a frustrating brewing experience because you are not able to get consistent results.
So remember, a single origin might not always be a single origin, you might be getting beans from many different growing areas and farms. Use single origins as a tool to refine your flavor palate and see if you can start making some interesting blends yourself.
With blends you can get some really unique flavors if done right.
SIngle origin coffee or blended coffee, which one should you go for? Try them all! That’s the only way you’re going to find that coffee that really hits the spot. One of the reasons coffee is so enjoyable is because of all of the exploring you get to do.
I’m sure you’re going to have some really bad single origins and some really bad blends but these experiences lead you to being able to pick out what you really enjoy in a good cup of coffee.
For a list of really good roasters that give you quality coffee check this post out!