In a recent post I outlined my first foray into creating a roast blend, which yielded reasonable results with minimal planning. As it contained the remaining beans from a couple of previous roast batches, there was no science (nor art for that matter) put into bean selection, consideration of flavour profiles or ratios of each origin, which I expect are required to achieve a blend where the final taste is both a pleasant drinking experience and at least resembles what you set out to achieve.
In this follow up, I will do a little more research into possible ways to improve on my earlier effort. First, a little reading into better ways of blending for the home roaster, where a search will provide some interesting views on the topic, some of which I found quite helpful.
In Coffee Blending for the Home Roaster, Michael Allen Smith presents a number of options in a concise, informative post on blending for the home roaster. These include:
- Just a Pinch Blend (similar to my initial efforts above; simply what you have left)
- Checkerboard blend (for successive roast variance and tips on order of roasts)
- 3 crop roasts (advice on flavour profiles and roast levels)
- Faking freshness blend (adding newly roasted varietal to extend the life of an older batch)
- 7 Day Pre-Blending (as it sounds, here the beans a pre-blended and sit for a week which evens out the moisture content which often varies in different origins)
I highly recommend going to the original article, which explains in more detail (without being too lengthy) each of the above points and provides further background on the logistics of putting together a decent blend at home. The final point above does however touch on one of the initial questions I had myself when considering blending – that is, should this be done pre or post roast? A further word on this from Blending Basics at Sweet Maria’s:
If you have an established blend it certainly is easier to blend the coffee green and roast it together. If you are experimenting with blend ingredients and percentages you will want to pre-roast each separately so you can experiment with variations.
For my own situation, and I’m sure many home roasters are in the same boat, consistency of roasts can be a little difficult to achieve at times, so for now I will go with blending post roast. With this approach I have a greater likelihood of producing a pretty good roast on one variety of beans at a time, and will have better control through experimentation over how the final blend comes together.
Another source of information on blending is the Coffee Snobs Blending Room forum, an Australian based forum on all things coffee, where you can work through a myriad of recommendations, questions and answers on the specifics of blending. A great resource for obtaining advice on what proportions or combinations to use for the beans you have available to blend, which can be as simple or as complex as you choose.
These and other sites such as Home-Barista offer examples of blends and the rationale behind each, similar to the following from the Sweet Maria’s article referenced above:
Here’s a great starter blend for a sweeter, cleaner espresso… a sweet blend used at a street level roasterie/caffe in Rome. They use a Guatemala Antigua for the Central:
50% Brazil Dry-process
25% Colombian Wet-process
25% Guatemala or other brighter Central American
Ten blending tips for home roasters:
So, through my 12 months of home roasting experience and a little research, I would offer the following tips for anyone looking to create their own blend:
- Read a little (not a lot) on the subject – the aim is to experiment not follow a recipe
- Start where you wish to end (what is the final flavour profile you are seeking?)
- Have a variety of green beans on hand (or order based on point 4 below)
- Have some understanding of the flavour profile and characteristics of each varietal
- Know how well each varietal roasts in your own particular set up
- Consider medium roast levels to avoid one blend dominating the mix
- Begin with no more than three different bean varieties when starting out
- Use what you have read to guide initial proportions or ratios
- Blend after roasting, where there is unlimited ability to blend, taste, repeat
- Blend, taste, repeat (did a say that already?) and enjoy making your own signature blend!
That’s it! My top ten tips for setting out on your own blending journey as a home roaster. From reading around a little, I can say without a doubt there are really no wrong or right answers here, however as with anything, opinions and guidelines exist, your own experimentation ultimately provides the way. Hopefully you will come up with some fantastic blends, as will I in the course of time. If you do, I would love to hear about them in the comments below, or on Twitter.Follow @petedenison
- How to Roast Coffee at Home | The Art of Manliness (artofmanliness.com)
- What is the Roaster? My home roasting setup (dept4.net)
- Where it all begins. (formosacoffeeroaster.wordpress.com)
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