guide to coffee blends

The Definitive Guide To Coffee Blends: Everything You've Ever Wanted to Know

Take a stroll down any grocery store coffee aisle and you'll see shelves upon shelves of coffee blends.

Mocha Java blend. Light roast blend. Espresso blend.

The overwhelming tsunami of options leaves you wondering:

  • What is a coffee blend—and why are there so many options?
  • What's the real difference between this coffee blend and that coffee blend?
  • Should I buy blends or single origin beans?

Coffee blends are a balanced, flavor-filled way to start your day—every day.

But without knowledge of what a coffee blend is and what to look for, you may wind up settling for a low-grade blend with lackluster flavors. (Definitely not the coffee you need to kickstart the day.)

But, don't worry! By the end of our guide, you'll know exactly what a coffee blend is along with:

  • 5 coffee blend benefits for coffee drinkers and roasters alike
  • The difference between coffee blends, single origin coffees, and espresso blends
  • 4 things to be on the lookout for when shopping for coffee blends

Fill up your mug and let's get to it.

First, Let's Define What a Coffee Blend Is

Based on the name alone, we bet you can guess what a coffee blend is.

By definition, a coffee blend is a mixture of two or more different coffees.

These coffees can be from different countries (Mexico, Colombia, Ethiopia, Zambia) or different regions in the same country (Ethiopia Yirgacheffe, Ethiopia Sidamo Ardi, Ethiopia Guji.)

So long as the mixture of beans are all from varying locations, it's considered a coffee blend.

Now, just because you mix up a bunch of beans doesn't mean it'll taste good!

The goal is to analyze the best attributes of each coffee and blend them together precisely to create a balanced, delectable, and consistent flavor profile. The result should be a coffee blend that no single origin coffee could replicate.

However, producing a consistent specialty coffee blend takes time and constant practice to achieve. That's why roasters (like us!) are always experimenting with various blend recipes and working to ensure their blends remain flavorful all year long.

Read: Don't Buy Italian Roast Coffee Until You Read This

5 Coffee Blend Benefits For Coffee Drinkers and Roasters Alike

There are a few reasons why coffee drinkers and roasters both love coffee blends.

For Coffee Drinkers:

  1. Coffee Blends are Delicious and Consistent

For the majority of us, coffee is the start of our daily routine.

As the great Ms. Dolly Parton once sang, we tumble out of bed, stumble to the kitchen, and pour ourselves a cup of ambition 🎵

We want that first cup to wake us right up, not only with caffeine but also with lasting, brilliant flavor—every single day.

When sourced and roasted properly, coffee blends deliver a smooth, vibrant flavor over and over again without fail. This flavor consistency is what coffee drinkers love and expect from a specialty coffee blend.

  1. Brew at Home With Ease

Have you ever tried a new coffee at a cafe and fallen in love with it? But when you buy a bag and brew it at home, it just doesn't taste quite right? (Yeah, us too.)

Chances are you purchased a single origin coffee, which can take a little more attention and tinkering to brew properly.

Roasters develop coffee blends to provide a seamless, repeatable cafe-to-home experience for customers. These blends are easy to make at home, regardless of brew method.

Once you figure out your preferred brew recipe for the blend, you can brew at home with ease day in and day out.

  1. There's a Coffee Blend for Everyone

Some coffee drinkers prefer chocolatey coffees with a smooth mouthfeel, while others seek out fruity and floral coffees with crisp acidity.

The beauty of coffee blends is that there's an option for every type of coffee drinker, whether you're an adventurous coffee sipper or just want a routine cup of Joe.

Go out and try different coffee blends to see which flavors, roast levels, and coffee attributes you prefer best. Once you've found a coffee that makes your face light up and your heart swell, that's the blend for you!

Read: Light Roast vs Dark Roast Coffee: Comparing Taste, Caffeine, And Beyond

For Coffee Roasters

  1. Reliable, Consistent Options Year-Round

To offer the best coffees from around the world at their store, we coffee roasters must source beans based on location, seasonality, price point, and a boatload of other factors.

If we only offered single-origin coffees in-store, this would mean an ever-rotating selection of options for you to buy. And while the variety is appealing to some, others just want the same, luscious, and reliable cup of coffee day after day.

That's why we develop flavorful blends using specialty coffee beans you can enjoy all year long. It's a win-win for both the coffee drinker and roaster!

  1. Coffee Blends Allow Roasters to Be Creative

Remember, you can't throw a bunch of different beans together and expect it to taste good. Instead, roasters thoroughly analyze each coffee's taste and attributes and experiment with different blend ratios until they've found the perfect blend recipe.

It's not easy, but it means we can get really creative!

For instance, blending a natural Ethiopian coffee with a washed Brazillian coffee could produce a chocolatey and citric blend, while combining a Guatemalan coffee with a Zambian coffee could result in a tart apple and almond blend. There's no end in sight to what you can create when you expertly blend coffees from around the world together.

We can also tailor coffee blends to specific beverages, like cold brew or espresso. We do it by finding and combining beans with the distinct flavors and attributes we know will complement the drink, such as a milk chocolate flavor note with a medium body and mild acidity for a cold brew.

What's the Difference Between Coffee Blends vs. Single Origin Blends?

As you continue strolling down that grocery store aisle, you'll also come across single-origin coffees.

Single-origin coffees are defined as coffee from one distinct location. This could refer to coffee from one producer, farm, co-op, or region within a country.

Coffee blends use beans from multiple locations, while the beans in single-origin coffees are all from the same location.

Single-origin coffees and coffee blends are both masterfully delicious. Each is roasted to showcase the natural flavors and qualities of the beans. However, the main differences between the two are:

  • Traceability — Many coffee drinkers prefer single origin coffees as they can be traced directly back to one source. If done properly, blends can trace each coffee used back to the source, too. But, to accommodate seasonality and matching flavor profiles, the sources of a blend's coffee beans may change over time.
  • Consistency — Blends are created to provide a specific flavor profile for customers all year long. Single origin coffees cannot provide that persistent flavor year after year, due to a multitude of agricultural and roasting factors.
  • Availability Coffee blends are available to consumers throughout the year. Single origin coffees are subject to seasonality. A single origin coffee may be mind-blowing one season and then offer up mediocre flavors the next.

Coffee Blends vs. Espresso Blends

Thanks to outdated coffee and marketing practices, most coffee drinkers still believe that espresso roasts use a totally different type of coffee bean.

Spoiler Alert: They don't!

Coffee beans and espresso beans are the same thing. They are just roasted and used for different beverages. You can use the same blend or single-origin coffee to make a pour-over or espresso.

But, if you see a coffee blend labeled as an “Espresso Blend,”—including ours—it means we made the conscious decision to roast this blend to work particularly well in espresso drinks. This means that it's likely a medium to dark roast using beans that'll highlight the best attributes and flavors of the coffee when brewed through an espresso machine.

Both blends are equally delicious, just roasted with different beverages in mind!

4 Things to Look For in a Coffee Blend

When you're shopping around for coffee blends, you want to purchase a fresh blend that you'll love to drink every morning. Keep an eye out four aspects of a coffee blend—they can make or break your morning cup!

1. Roast Date

Take a look at the blend's packaging. Is there a sticker that says when it was roasted or when it'll be “Best By?”

Coffee blends taste best when brewed anywhere from 1-3 weeks after roast. After that point, the coffee starts to get stale and loses its most delicious and fresh flavors.

Opt for coffee blends that have been recently roasted for the best overall taste.

2. Flavor Profile

Coffee blends can be subtle and smooth, acidic and complex, sweet and light—the list goes on. It all depends on what the roaster wants to accomplish with the blend.

This means you'll want to choose a blend that appeals to your personal flavor preferences.

As you browse through the options at your local roaster or grocery store, be sure to read the flavor profiles and look for tasting notes that you enjoy.

Read: Coffee Tastes Bitter? Here Why, And How To Fix It

3. Whole Bean

Coffee begins to lose its flavor and freshness 30 minutes after grinding. This is why it's so important to purchase whole bean coffee blends and grind right before brewing.

Avoid pre-ground coffee blends at all costs. Otherwise, you'll be stuck with dull flavors or worse—stale coffee!

4. The Roaster's Values

Not too long ago, coffee blends had a bad reputation. This is due to certain roasters engaging in bad practices such as using up old coffee in blends and sourcing low-grade coffees.

This is why it's important to always review the roaster's values before buying a blend. Read through the blend's packaging. Does it mention anything about their transparency in sourcing and buying coffee? What about their commitment to customers and the community? Do they talk about their roasting approach?

Choose coffee blends that not only align with your taste preferences but also your values.

Next Steps: Find Your Perfect Coffee Blend

Now that you know exactly what flavors you want from a coffee blend, it's time to find the blend that makes you rush out of bed and to the coffee pot every morning. From light roasts with fruity and tart cranberry notes to dark roasts full of dark chocolate and clove flavors, there's a coffee blend out there for everyone.

Our blends are roasted precisely to highlight the tastiest flavors of each coffee. Whether you prefer light and sweet coffee blends or deep and complex roasts, we've got a freshly roasted blend for you.

Find the coffee blend that satisfies your taste buds and kickstarts your morning!

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