Latest Posts

  1. Podcast Episode #21 - Burundi Conversation with Alistair Sequeira - Part 1

    Podcast Episode #21 - Burundi Conversation with Alistair Sequeira - Part 1

    Part 1 of 2 - Talking about the coffee supply chain among other topics

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  2. Colombia: Early Harvest in Nariño

    Colombia: Early Harvest in Nariño

    Harvest in Nariño comes at a time that is somewhat in between the middle and main harvests of our other primary sources of Colombian coffee, namely Urrao and Caicedo in the north, and La Plata and Inzá down south.

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  3. Guatemala: Proyecto Xinabajul

    Guatemala: Proyecto Xinabajul

    For years we have thought about working in a more direct way with small-scale farmers in Guatemala, and in the 2013 harvest year this effort came to fruition.

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  4. Another Home Roaster Takes the Leap

    Another Home Roaster Takes the Leap

    Sweet Maria's customer jumps into his own coffee business

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  5. A Path to Food-Grade Cascara at the Helsar Micro-mill

    A Path to Food-Grade Cascara at the Helsar Micro-mill

    Cascara beverages are popping up everywhere these days.

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  6. Day after Day Job

    Day after Day Job

    Many home roasting enthusiasts dream of starting their own roasting businesses.

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  7. Fundamentals: Roasting Guatemalas and Washed Central American Coffees

    Fundamentals: Roasting Guatemalas and Washed Central American Coffees

    High grown washed Central American coffees are practically the control coffee when it comes to roasting, the coffees that roast just like they should.

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  8. Decaf Fundamentals - Updated 1/2017

    Decaf Fundamentals - Updated 1/2017

    When thinking about how to make an excellent decaffeinated coffee you have to first focus on the coffee before decaffeination.

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  9. Introducing the Quest M3s Drum Coffee Roaster

    Introducing the Quest M3s Drum Coffee Roaster

    The Quest M3s isn't necessarily bigger than our other home machines, but perhaps more closely resembles a production roasting experience.

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  10. Taste and Price: When Values Shift

    Taste and Price: When Values Shift

    I recently caught glimpse of this and found it very thought-provoking.

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  11. Day After Day Job Part 6

    Day After Day Job Part 6

    Part 6: Dream Machine- choosing a roaster.

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  12. Saying Hello to Huky

    Saying Hello to Huky

    Tom and Chris from talk about the Huky 1lb roaster.

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Cupvemberfest 2014 - Blend Intentions

Cupvemberfest 2014 - Blend Intentions

For some of us, blending coffee is a regular part of our production schedule. Whether blending for espresso, drip or full immersion it calls for some thought and strategy. It can be a challenge to use coffees that are available in stock, choose new ones, and decide how to showcase them in a blend. What do we do when coffees are no longer available for the blends that we want to produce? Should we pre-blend or post-blend? Can this blend also work for espresso? It comes down to what our intentions are with the blend and if we can succeed in fulfilling those intentions. It's not a secret that coffee blends were once--and may still be for some--a way to get rid of coffees quickly. Perhaps a coffee wasn't selling as fast as we thought and is showing age. Maybe you realized that your customer base prefers a blend to a single origin coffee they can't pronounce. While some roasters don't practice blending within their lineup, others revel in it.

One can't deny that coffees continue to improve with the quality and dynamics they can offer. This improvement in quality begs for a revisit with blending and the possibilities in creating a blend.

A warehouse full of Bay Area (and beyond) coffee roasters shared an open discussion about blending on November 14th here in Oakland. Chris Schooley and Danny Goot of Sweet Maria's/Coffee Shrub headed up the event by talking about common concerns and issues with blending. Not only was it a fun topic that doesn't get much attention, but also an excellent excuse to get us all together.

Everything was cupped blind, with the first round between two different angles of producing a blend: pre-blending vs. post-blending. Danny set out a blend that was created as a dual-purpose blend (batch or pour over and espresso). The blend consisted of 1 part Guatemala, 2 parts washed Western Ethiopia and 1 part dry-processed Southern Ethiopia. This also gave the opportunity to throw another curve ball in the mix with two different types of processing methods. Although there were differences between the two approaches, there was agreement that the two had a lot in common. The pre-blend showed heftier body, a well-rounded chocolate finish, while the post-blend was a little brighter but thinner. They were both sweet and represented the individual coffees well. This blend obviously had dynamics that could be approached in several different ways.
First round cupping set up. Pre vs. Post blending.First round cupping set up. Pre vs. Post blending.
Joe and Nicholas. Get up in there Joe!Joe and Nicholas. Get up in there Joe!
The second round of blind cupping was a lineup of 5 different blends brought by 5 different roasters. The objective here was to cup each coffee, critique, and talk about what we found in each cup. We discussed one coffee at a time and after everyone gave feedback the roaster was revealed. They spoke of their intention behind the blend and answered any questions that came up. This exercise was very helpful in inspiring new ways to approach blends and gave some fresh perspectives on blending.
The exclusive yellow cupping table.The exclusive yellow cupping table.
Round 2Round 2
Having open discussions like this is such an instrumental way to learn. We can tend to get caught up in the way we do things and often forget why we started doing them in the first place. It might also be time for a change and this kind of forum is a great way to develop different ideas.