Great coffee can be made from a single source or from a blend of beans. Because coffee is such a unique plant, each crop can produce a different flavor. The amount of sunlight and water that coffee bean plants get can also impact the taste, even before the beans are roasted.
What’s a Coffee Blend?
A coffee blend is a combination of coffee beans from different regions. It’s the opposite of a single-origin coffee, which is generally tied to one geographic location. Coffee blends offer the chance to customize flavors to your taste, and you can vary the flavor further by roasting the beans before the blending process, or after the beans are mixed.
Customize by Region and Process
Custom blenders can be individuals roasting beans at home or commercial facilities working to build a client base. Because the method of removing the husk from the coffee bean matters, some coffee fans might like a hearty Harrar coffee with a wet-processed bean from India to smooth off the rough edges.
South American coffees have their own flavor characteristics and depending on the altitude, you can find a wide variety of flavors between Colombian and Brazilian coffee beans. Finally, even the different coffee growing regions on the islands offer the chance to make a custom blend of Hawaiian coffee.
Grind at Home
If you’re planning to buy roasted beans, mix and blend them at home, make sure that you’re careful with the grind. Very finely ground dark roast coffee can develop a nasty bite. A fine grind of a milder coffee can be a great addition to a darker, more intensely flavored bean.
Don’t overbuy. Coffee beans can produce a wide variety of flavors, but when they’re old, chances are good the flavors will always be bad. Grind the darker beans first and leave them a bit coarse, so you can easily clean out the grinder reservoir. After that, grind your lighter flavored beans in short bursts to get a finer grind without producing a lot of flour. Mix the ground beans in a small, airtight and opaque container in a cool cupboard for best, most authentic flavor.
Roast Your Own
Of all the things you can buy in bulk, green coffee beans are not a good product to stock up on. You want fresh beans that will release oil easily, and if they’re old they’ll either be too dry or the beans will be over-oxidated and the coffee will have an off, unpleasant flavor.
Get organic green beans from the grower of your choice. Try to invest in a good base bean, such as Colombian or Guatemalan bean, and blend in something a little milder, such as a bean from one of the Hawaiian islands. Keep careful track of
- the bean blend by weight if possible
- the roasting temperature
- time in the pan
If it turns out great, you’ll have the recipe. If not, you’ll be forewarned for the next roasting.
Get outside, or make sure you can fully open up windows and doors to clear away the smoke that will be produced as the beans get hot. If you can find one, use a cast-iron skillet to hold the heat and roast your beans on a grill that allows you to control the temperature. Don’t use non-stick; you need to get to at least 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
Spread the green beans evenly on the hot pan and stir constantly. Wear gloves; it’s going to get hot as well as smoky. By 6 minutes, the beans will be lightly roasted and you’ll hear the first crack of the seed. At 7-8 minutes, you’ll hear the second crack. If you want a darker roast, give it no more than one more minute and immediately pull the beans from the heat.
Transfer your roasted beans to a stainless steel colander. Keep another colander nearby, so you can transfer the beans from one to the other and free the chaff from the seeds. Do not touch the beans for 12 hours as they need to release carbon dioxide. You can also buy special containers that will block oxygen but allow the release of the carbon dioxide.
No matter your methods, coffee blends are always more interesting than a single-origin coffee. If you love the smell of coffee, roasting your own will be a real treat for your senses. Even if you can’t do your own roasting, buying and grinding your own bean blend will let you customize your coffee experience.