We take blends seriously around these parts. We spend a lot of time thinking about, and giving hot takes on, coffee blends. In the spirit of our blend enthusiasm, we’re excited to present two new seasonal blend recipes. For background, your blend creators have similar coffee industry expertise in creating blends for roasting companies. Caitlin, in her former life, was even roast-profiling and production-roasting new seasonal blends that went on to become best-sellers, which are still in production to this day. Charlie, as a former buyer for a high-growth retailer, used to build blends working backward from the cup, making sure supply chains were aligned to support a blend’s quality long-term
One must recognize the unique characteristics of coffees when combined. Sometimes, you find that certain coffees are tastier when blended with others, and they give what each other needs to take the profile to the next level. For example, blending a big-bodied, but mild coffee with a bright, distinctive coffee can create a blend that is greater than its individual components. We wanted to use our insider knowledge of which coffees tend to over-perform, which ones are available at a steep discount, but bring something nice to the table, and, importantly, which coffees may almost never be thought of as a pejorative “blender”, but should, in the best way.
The idea of a top-shelf blend is not new, but it is still uncommon. Caitlin and Charlie wanted one blend that would be a treat after holiday meals, impress loved ones, and scratch the “new” coffee itch as we all wait for southern hemisphere top tier coffees to arrive. We wanted another blend that would take great coffees uniquely priced to sell and make something better than the sum of its parts, that is excellent at a light or dark roast, and gives customers attributes of higher-priced coffee for less. In both cases, the coffees we included might be a little surprising, and all are worth talking about.
Both offerings are 3-bean blends designed to be blended at 1/3, 1/3, 1/3. Happy blending!
2023 Holiday Blend
When we think of the holidays, we think of warming spices, tart and sweet red fruits, sweetness, balance, and round body. In that spirit, this special blend is comprised of equal parts of two washed coffees from Papua New Guinea and Uganda, plus a single-farmer natural coffee from Ethiopia. Our blend is a very well-balanced and approachable coffee with base notes of cola and mulling spices, mid-notes of floral like bergamot and hibiscus, cherry cordial, and baked plums with cream, and top notes of cranberry and lively orange acidity. It is not too complicated, with just the right amount of complexity.
Cupper’s Delight Blend
Our intention with creating this blend was to use three coffees that may be a little long in the tooth, but still have positive flavor characteristics that are showcased well in a blend and come in at a competitive price point. The flavor profile has a nice syrupy body with some jasmine florals, stone fruit, and a little bit of sparkly lemon citrus. This blend will work nicely at varying roast levels; at a lighter roast you’ll taste more citrus and floral, and with a more developed roast, the already rounded body will increase. And because this blend is so body-driven, it will make a tasty espresso too.
The Blending Process
We started by selecting potential coffees for each blend that fit a certain requirement – either in taste or price point. Coffees were sample roasted to a medium level to caramelize sugars and maximize sweetness, while at the same time, roasted light enough to be able to taste a coffee’s subtleties and more delicate top notes.
We cupped 10 coffees on their own, writing down tasting notes, and then proceeded to test several different blend iterations on our own individually, blending the brewed coffee in cups. Once we were happy with the outcome, we shared the test blends with each other for feedback, cupped against our own blend trials, and created a kind of bracket system. We did this in a silent and focused process over the course of a couple hours. We then narrowed down the options to two favorites and had a colleague taste and weigh in on the process. Two days later, we made a pour over and batch brew of each blend and tasted again, while also sharing the brews with several colleagues and tasters at The Crown.
The winners were clear, and we are delighted to present them to you! Check out the coffees here.
Interested in more blending info? Check out Chris Kornman’s Roaster’s Practical Guide to Coffee Blending.