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What Are Coffee Blends and How Are They Made?

18 November 2020
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Have you ever sipped on a cup of coffee made from 100% Arabica and wished that it had just a little more flavour and richness to it? Do you love the full-bodied aftertaste of Liberica coffee but miss the citrus acidity of a Kenyan coffee?

You are not the first to feel that way. That is why coffee roasters and commercial enterprises have come up with the perfect solution – and that solution is no other than coffee blends.

What is a coffee blend?

Just as its name suggests, coffee blends are made from combining two or more single origin coffee beans to create a unique blend.

This is different from single origin coffee, where the beans are sourced from a single location, usually a country, region, or farm.

How are they made?

two bags of coffee beans placed in front of a coffee machine
Simple coffee blends such as the De’Longhi Kimbo Classic Coffee Beans are made from a combination of Arabica and Robusta coffee beans. Photo from De’Longhi.

To create the perfect blend, roasters will need to decide which single origin coffee pair well together, and decide the proportion of each.

Simple blends are made from mixing two of the world’s most common coffee beans – the Arabica and Robusta. With the Arabica having a smooth caramel aftertaste and the Robusta having a strong flavour, blending these beans gives a unique balance of each. This is a straightforward way of adding complexity and maximising different roasting techniques.

Ready to get your first bag of coffee blends? Here’s a good place to start.

A coffee blend is not finalised until the four elements of coffee – taste, aroma, flavour, and body – are perfected for the end consumer.

Flavour Profile

strawberries and blueberries placed around a cup of cappucino
Blended coffee is best consumed with milk, making it the preferred choice for espresso drinks such as lattes and cappuccinos. Photo from De’Longhi.

A coffee blend is a way to create unique flavour combinations and taste profiles. Common flavour profiles include chocolate, caramel, nuts, and honey. The resulting brew is often heavy-bodied with a lasting and robust aftertaste.

One of the main advantages of coffee blends is that it is not as overpowering as single origins. As a result, they are ideal as a base for your traditional espresso-based drinks such as lattes and cappuccinos.

Why do roasters make coffee blends?

Coffee blends are done for a multitude of reasons. The combinations and ratios of creating a coffee blend are limitless – not forgetting the darkness and lightness the roaster wishes to take the beans to.

It also creates the perfect taste profile for the coffee taste profile of a country, specific customer demands, or a bespoke brewing method. The final blend is one that suits the end-consumer’s taste preference.

Find out what is the coffee taste profile of each Asian country.

Although coffee is a daily commodity, it is a seasonal product. Climate, seasonal changes and natural disasters are just some of the various factors that affect a harvest. Coffee blends allow roasters to counter such variables by altering the ratio or switching to other single origin beans to create similar flavour profiles.

The Rising Popularity of Coffee Blends

a barista holding two drip coffee
In recent days, house blends have become a staple on most cafe menus. Photo from Joshua Melo.

Coffee blends, until recently, were known as the poorer cousin of single origin and specialty coffee. That is because consumers used to think that blends were made to “hide” the flaws of not-so-good harvests of single origin beans.

But, imagine every roaster in the world roasting the same Kenyan single origin.. That would be boring.. That is why most modern day specialty cafes offer specialty or house blends because they want to offer something unique to their customers.

As a result, the third wave’s emphasis on the farmer, as well as the impact of digitalisation in the fourth wave has changed consumers’ perception of coffee blends. In fact, it is widely appreciated these days.

First, second, third, and fourth wave of coffee? What does it mean?

With coffee roasters like this Singapore Barista Champion and Malaysia’s home-grown Mister Coffee driving coffee innovation, the growing popularity of coffee blends among the younger population is an interesting space to watch.