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KJM Blending how-to (or rather "how-done")

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  • KJM Blending how-to (or rather "how-done")

    At the Beanology event, I was asked by quite a few people how I came up with the KJM blend.  My standard response to those who asked was that Id post a thread on blends.  Rather belatedly, this is it

    Firstly: a couple of disclaimers.  I happen to like rather a lot of
    different coffees but I particularly love Ethiopian and Yemeni coffee as espressos.  Mrs KJM on the other hand, likes (or rather: liked) coffee with milk exclusively.  I was occasionally chided for my chosen SO roasts - worked well as espressos but were a bit naff in milk.  So I started to look into blending.  Which brings up disclaimer #2 - there wasnt much hard information on blends that worked.  The information that was available formed the initial basis of the blending that I experimented with.  So this basically follows in the footsteps of the accepted norms of espresso blends.  Which means there
    might be other approaches that are fabulous - but I havent explored those!  The last disclaimer is that Im not a coffee blender/roaster.  I do this as a hobby!  I dont claim any advanced knowledge over and above what many CS members have!

    Before you start

    Figure out what you want to achieve!  I wouldnt bother blending
    anything if I had an infinite supply of some of the lovely Yemeni
    beans Andy finds and had no need to use milk..

    You also need to know what youre going to blend with.  This means you have to roast the candidate beans and have a good feel for how they taste.  Andys tasting notes on the BeanBay offerings are a good starting point, but Ive found that my own perceptions differ (in small ways) from those published.  Youre going to be blending to suit your own (and your family/friends) tastes.  Roast and taste yourself.  You just have to know what each bean will bring to the blend.

    You also need to know how different roast profiles/depths affect the taste.  Mal posted some information on PNG beans once that caught my eye.  I had some of the Wahgi beans and roasted some just before second crack and some into second crack.  The shift in taste was huge.  Blending these roughly 50/50 produced a cup that had some of the best of both characteristics.  I really recommend this as a first step in exploring blending!

    The Bean Palate

    This is very personal, and this is how I see it.  Your mileage will vary!

    My beloved African beans Id describe as bright.  They add a perceived acidic note and tend to have floral, citric kinds of notes to them (depending on roast level!).

    Central American coffees tend to be sweeter.  Id even use the word caramel for some of them.  Utterly different from the Africans.

    Indonesian coffees (to me) are characterised by a lot of mouthfeel (they are just thicker!) and a real earthy note.

    South American coffees to me are smooth and somewhat bland.  The Daterra "Sweet Collections" beans are delightfully smooth and have a really buttery mouthfeel.  But to me are a bit dull (see disclaimer #1!).

    PNG coffees (to me) have a real malty character...


    You need to decide what you want in the cup before you start.  For the KJM blend - I wanted something good as an espresso and also nice with milk.  The nice with milk meant it needed enough apparent acidity to punch through the milk (African beans, Centrals).  The nice as an espresso (to me) meant I needed enough mouthfeel (Indo) and something to knock back the acidity of the African (any coffee needs African beans! - see disclaimer #1!) - so thats South Americans.

    Initial blend - 90% Daterra, 10% Ethiopian Limmu.  This was really nice.  The relatively small African component completely changes the bland (to me!) Daterra base.  The problem with this blend was that what Id call the "middle palate" was missing.

    Second blend - 70% Daterra, 10% Limmu and 20% Toraja Kalosi.  This increased the mouthfeel as an espresso hugely (as in chalk-and-cheese) and had an interesting lift in the milk based drink too.  But it was viewed as a bit acidic.

    Third blend - 40% Daterra, 10% Limmu, 20% Toraja Kalosi and 30% Nicaraguan SHB.  This was the turning point in the KJM blend - the Central American beans seemed to fill the middle palate hole nicely and the finish was long and lingering (but a bit dry - which was fixed later..).

    So thats how I did it.  I do hope this is useful to someone else in getting them going.  The KJM blend actually took about a  full year of tinkering to get to the point where I was happy with it. There is no instant gratification in this process!

    The other thing Id say is that making a blend containing just a couple of beans of each of the beans in a large bean stash is interesting...  You end up with a kind of bland non-descript "coffee".  There really seems to be some science and art to the blending process.

    Anyway - hope this is useful.


  • #2
    Re: KJM Blending how-to (or rather "how-done&quot

    Originally posted by 7071763B0 link=1327835285/0#0 date=1327835285
    Anyway - hope this is useful.

    Great post Kevin, Im sure this will enlighten anybody considering developing their own blends.
    Since trying your KJM blend last year I have roasted many variations with some great results, what impresses me is that the roasts come out so even with only the odd Ethiopian bean a little lighter, prior to trying your blend I was only doing post-roast blending, since trying  pre-roast blending a lot of my friends have commented on the great taste so I now regularly pre-blend which is a big time saver, especially when only roasting small batches!
    Thanks for sharing your blending  with fellow coffee lovers, much appreciated by all Im sure
    PS: It was a pleasure meeting you at Beanology 


    • #3
      Re: KJM Blending how-to (or rather "how-done&quot

      Originally posted by 465344444F4C404F210 link=1327835285/1#1 date=1327921597
      PS: It was a pleasure meeting you at Beanology 
      And you.  One of the problems with on-line communities is that they rarely meet physically...    The mental image you build up of your fellow CSers is somewhat - curious! 

      Originally posted by 465344444F4C404F210 link=1327835285/1#1 date=1327921597
      have commented on the great taste so I now regularly post-blend
      I assume you mean pre-blend?    That is one of the things I initially commented on in the thread on the blend.  It never ceases to amaze me that the roasts come out so even.  It also changes the taste.  I cant swear to that, but Im sure the co-roasted beans are in some way "more integrated".. 

      As a practising scientist/engineer I do find that a bit off.  I cant understand how that might come to pass, but it does seem to have a smoother taste.  Wheres Joseph Riviera when you need him!?