Latest Posts

  1. Our Sourcing in Honduras

    Our Sourcing in Honduras

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  2. A Look at  Flores Manu Lalu as Espresso

    A Look at Flores Manu Lalu as Espresso

    Wet process Flores makes fantastic single origin espresso. Have a look at our cupping notes.

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  3. Behmor Espresso Roast Profile: Peru FTO Don Rigoberto

    Behmor Espresso Roast Profile: Peru FTO Don Rigoberto

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  4. Sumatra: Arabica Varieties in Aceh

    Sumatra: Arabica Varieties in Aceh

    This is a list of coffee varieties / cultivars found in Aceh and more broadly in Sumatra, Indonesia

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  5. Sumatra: Stories About Aceh, With Pictures

    Sumatra: Stories About Aceh, With Pictures

    A Sumatra travelogue in photographs, focused on Aceh area around Lake Tawar and Takengon town

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  6. Sumatra: Some Things I Have Learned About Aceh, Perhaps.

    Sumatra: Some Things I Have Learned About Aceh, Perhaps.

    Thoughts on Acehnese coffee and the trading system here, written from Banda Aceh, October 2019.

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  7. Organic Certification and Green Coffee

    Organic Certification and Green Coffee

    An inside look at Fair Trade and Organic Certifications

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  8. Not Another Fruit Cake! (and what to do about holiday blending?)

    Not Another Fruit Cake! (and what to do about holiday blending?)

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  9. Sumatran Coffee: Grading and Appearance

    Sumatran Coffee: Grading and Appearance

    The appearance of green coffee from Indonesia can be jarring, especially if you’re used to washed beans from Africa or Central America. Why, many ask, does a Grade 1 Sumatra lack uniformity of color and/or bean size?

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  10. The Return of Ethiopiques

    The Return of Ethiopiques

    Along with the slew of incoming fresh Ethiopian coffee comes the return of our always popular Ethiopiques blend.

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  11. Behmor Roast Profile: Burundi Kayanza Gahahe

    Behmor Roast Profile: Burundi Kayanza Gahahe

    Taking the "light and bright" approach to roasting Burundi Gahahe on the Behmor 1600+

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  12. Quick Guide to our Rwanda and Burundi Coffee Sale!

    Quick Guide to our Rwanda and Burundi Coffee Sale!

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Cupvemberfest 2014 - Blend Intentions

Cupvemberfest 2014 - Blend Intentions
 (12/05/14)

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.