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Suggestions for more beans

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  • Suggestions for more beans

    I would like to experiment with some blending but as I am new to this I dont have a lot of choice in beans, yet. I bought the May starter pack and the harrar and peaberry from the June poll.
    Since most of the starter pack was used in learning to roast and satisfying my coffee habit I am predominatly left with the 2 from the june poll.

    I would like to get some green beans from the site sponsers to broaden my choice and experience. So I am hoping for some guidence.

    I dont really know how to describe the taste qualities well but do know I like good coffee

    First let me say I have yet to develop the taste for short blacks. I like milk in my coffee and enjoy a cappuccino every day or two. I am tending to make and taste espresso regularly so I will probably develop a taste for it over time.

    Regarding the beans I have enjoyed all of them as individual beans but my order of preference is
    Guatemalan huehue
    PNG Sihereni
    PNG peaberry
    Panama panamaria
    Brazil mogiana

    I have several questions. Since I have good stock of the harrar and peaberry is it wise to use them as a base or should I look at a different bean to use as a base. I have read that most espresso blends use brazil as a base but the bean I have is just not my favorite a little of it adds to the blends I have tried but in quantity I find it not to my taste.

    If I can use the harrar and peaberry as the base what beans would you suggest I get to extend my blending potential and experience.

    I know I am probably asking a lot but it would be great to have explanations of what a bean might add to a blend so I can start to try to understand the changes as I taste them.

    thanks in advance for any suggestions

  • #2
    Re: Suggestions for more beans

    Hi there, David,

    Im really quite a newbie at blending espresso, too, but Ive found that tasting, tasting, tasting and tasting some more is really helpful. It looks like youre well and truly on the way to building up a great palate!

    Reading, reading, reading and reading some more also helps a bit. Here are a few links:

    Sweet Marias: is a US-based business that sells green beans. Tom seems to always have a huge range of coffees that he has personally evaluated. Go to the green beans section. The offerings are divided up under different countries. Each page has an introduction talking about the flavour profile of that countriys stuff in general terms, then he has detailed descriptions of the specific coffees that he has in stock. Tom also has an extensive archive of past reviews. Its really a very impressive collections! (Dont even think of trying to buy from them, though - Australian customs will make it impossible!) "Serving the Roasting Community with Expert Independent Reviews"

    Coffee Review: Mostly reviews of coffee commercially roasted in the US, but the odd single-origin description might be helpful.

    ... and then Im sure that there are any number of espresso blending articles out there, such as this one. I mentioned that article not because I necessarily think that the blend is great (I havent even tried it), but because its a nice insight into the thought process behind the blend.

    As for specific single origins that might help you, something like a Sumatran Mandheling is a classic and would probably add some mega-body to help your blend to give you some chocolateyness through the milk. You can roast it fairly dark.

    A nicely processed columbian of some description is another classic that youll more or less have to try at some point or other. In milk, they seem to make more of a milk chocolate flavour, in comparison with the Mandheling, if that makes sense. Alone, as a single origin espresso, they are quite single-note ... boring, really, except for a very clean finish.

    ... Im sure that others will add more suggestions and hopefully come up with better discriptions than what Ive spat out (or you could try Sweet Marias)




    • #3
      Re: Suggestions for more beans

      Base beans are just that, the base of the blend. You really dont want something that is too distinct. You want body and balance, mainly just a platform to work from. Brazilian ones as well as Colombians are common, as they arent too distinct. They will provide you with good balance and body. From there, you spice it up with origins that give you charcteristics youre looking for, such as chocolate notes, or berry/fruity notes. Some you will just add for their qualities in the cup, like mouthfeel, crema and finish.

      Recently made a blend using Cerrado, Limmu, Sumatran, and Huehue. I have to say it wasnt sharp and fruity at all. It was pleasantly earthy, chocolatey and well-balanced. I liked it as an espresso, but could easily see this one being well enjoyed with milk. Scored points for both sides...

      If you try a bean and it seems to be flat, then it might be a candidate for a base bean.

      Sometimes you may have a blend without a base, only a combination of spices. Go for a blend with Malabar, Toraja, Bugisu, and PNG. Equal quantities of each, and see if you can pick out their individual characteristics when combined (make sure you let the Malabar rest 5-6 days before the rest of the beans).


      • #4
        Re: Suggestions for more beans

        Hi David,

        In addition to the great comments from Luca and Nunu,
        I suggest you also read up on the Cupping Notes and Blending Notes posts on this forum.
        They will help you to develop your ideas, skills, etc.
        AND your taste preference is yours, what you like will be different to some others.

        As far as choices go, I think in the early stages sometimes it is better to have less choice, then there is less confusion about what to try next.

        Also the roasting process can significantly affect the flavours in your shot, for example:

        I have been experimenting with 50% decaff blends, (yes that makes an extra challenge).
        The current decaff I am using is the recently polled Yirgacheff decaff,
        and I have found that if I roast it to just before 2nd crack, I get a lemon flavour in my latte (not bitter, just the lemon flavour), which is not unexpected with this bean, however if I roast darker the lemon flavour is not noticed and current blend of 25%Columbian,25% PNG Peaberry,50% Yirg decaff, all roasted into second crack, gives a smooth latte with an earthy, chocolatey sort of flavour. (Actually the shot I pulled last night looked so impressive I nearly downed it before I steamed the milk, (and I am not normally a short black drinker) but decided to let the wife taste some as well and made the two lattes, and mine was great.

        Anyway, with what youve got,
        for what its worth I suggest something like,
        1/3 Brazil roasted no more than just into start of 2nd crack,
        1/3 PNG Peaberry roasted same or a bit darker,
        1/3 Huehue roasted to your preference (I havent had the opportunity to try this one so cant suggest roast level, but there is notes on it on this site)

        Then you can adjust the proportions, and roast levels to try and improve, or add some Harrarr perhaps.

        Anyway after all that, have fun, keep some notes of what you did, and how it tasted, unlike me....



        • #5
          Re: Suggestions for more beans

          Hi David,

          Ive just posted a list of my favourite base coffees, that may help you in your quest to create espresso blends. Hope it helps

          The post can be found here -