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Thread: Blending for Espresso

  1. #1
    Avi is offline
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2004

    Blending for Espresso

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Fellow Lovers of Coffee,

    I have an admission to make - I love coffee! And as a result I am always on the quest for new and interesting taste experiences. I find this quest best realised when blending for espresso.

    I have been home roasting for a little over a year now. In this time I have learnt a lot, and have also learnt how little I really do know about coffee. I would like to share my humble learnings with you, my fellow Coffee Snobs.

    I believe that espresso blends should have the following general characteristics:
    1. Full body
    2. Sweetness
    3. Balance & complexity
    4. Aroma
    5. A long lingering aftertaste
    6. And finally, something "distinctive"

    In addition to this list, most of us would also like to have lots of crema, if for aesthetic reasons if nothing else.

    So without further ado, Id like to share my current blending "formula". Ive broken the blending formula up into three components - The Base Bean, the Body Bean, and the Distinction Bean.

    Base Bean (35%-50%)

    I currently use the Cuban Turquino as my base bean at about 35% of the blend.

    Taste Notes: Good body, extremely sweet, very smooth and well balanced, with a nice finish. excellent crema production.
    Roast: I would recommend 2nd Crack, but no darker

    Incidentally, you can also use a Brazil dry-processed coffee (e.g. Cerrado or Santos) as a base bean. In my experience you can use Brazilians at any percentage, as they are extremely gentle, sweet coffees. I dont tend to exceed 50%, simply because the blend becomes too boring.

    Body Bean (25% - 40%)

    Indonesian or PNG coffees seem to be excellent Body Beans. My favourites are:

    Sumatra Mandheling at 25%-40%(I dont usually exceed 40%, as I find it overwhelming)

    Taste Notes: Extremely full-bodied, very aromatic and spicy, and truly superb aftertaste that goes on for ages.
    Roast: I would recommend 2nd Crack + 30 seconds, which seems to maximise body and the peculiar "spiciness" of the Mandheling. This bean can take a very dark roast.

    New Guinea Keyup at 25%-40%
    Taste Notes: Yummy! Distinct chocolate, very smooth, good body, very flavourful, excellent balance. Good crema production.
    Roast: I would recommend 2nd Crack (you could probably go darker, I am still trying to work out the best roast point for this coffee)

    Distinction Bean (10%-25%)

    A whole lot of very fine coffees could be used here.

    I am currently experimenting with the Ethiopean Limuat 20%. The Limu is roasted to 2nd Crack (I wouldnt go too much darker). It seems to work.
    Variations on this theme could include one of these beans instead of the Limu:
    - Kenya AA (10%-15%)
    - Costa Rica Tarrazu (10%-15%)
    - Nicaraguan Maragogype (10%-15%)
    - Ethiopean Harar (10%-20%)

    To put this into practice, let me now "create" a blend using the beans that this group has purchased recently:

    50% Brazil Cerrado (2nd Crack)
    35% Sumatra Mandheling (2nd Crack + 30 seconds)
    15% Ethiopean Harar (possibly around 2nd Crack, maybe a little darker, but I lack experience with this bean)

    I have never actually created this blend, so I cant say if its any good :)

    But if I had to guess the taste & flavour profile of the resulting blend, I would think that it will be sweet, full-bodied, aromatic & fragrant, a distinctive chocolate flavour, with a long lingering aftertaste.

    I should mention that I use a 240V hot-air popcorn maker (Black & Decker from K-Mart) for roasting. This may affect the roast timings Ive included above.

    My advice to newbies is - start with blends that do not comprise of more than three origins. Blends more complex than this can be hard to "decipher", when you are looking to fine-tune the blend. There are many experts out there who believe that a good espresso blend does not need to exceed three origins. I have neither the experience or palate to agree or disagree with this viewpoint.

    As a final note, I recommend "cupping" each coffee origin separately, using the target brewing technique (for espresso blending, cup with espresso). Take notes, and each time you change the roast level, re-cup the coffee to develop a deeper appreciation of the impact of this coffee on your blend.

    Of course, I am too lazy to do this most of the time. But it seems like good advice to take :)

    Please accept my apologies for this long post. I intended it to be a summary of my experiences, but it ended up being an essay :)

    If you have any comments, opinions or criticisms on this essay, please let me know. Id love to know what you think :)


  2. #2

    Re: Blending for Espresso

    Fantastic post Avi, please keep them coming.

    Im still in my blending infancy and this information is very valuable. Ill be trying some of these on my next roast (probably tomorrow).


  3. #3
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2004

    Re: Blending for Espresso

    Great post, full of stuff I could try out!!

    Thanks mate!

  4. #4
    Avi is offline
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2004

    Re: Blending for Espresso

    Hi Ed & Thomas,

    Thank you for your kind feedback, I am honoured.

    Please let me know how your experiments go, Id love to hear about it!


  5. #5
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2004

    Re: Blending for Espresso

    Very nice post Avi. Straight to the point. I liked it...... Guess what some of us are going to be doing this weekend....

    You did well Avi. :)


  6. #6

    Re: Blending for Espresso

    Please accept my apologies for this long post. I intended it to be a summary of my experiences, but it ended up being an essay
    Thank you for such a thorough discription of your Roasting experiences, we dont mind length in this forum, especially when it is so informative. :D

    Most members, including ourselves, are relatively new to home roasting. Some have more experience than others. It is a great community to learn from.

    In particular it is great to see posts on blending and tasting. We would like to develop our knowledge in these areas, and appreciate anyones posts that enable us to do this. So keep them coming guys. Blend recipes are great to share, and very helpful to us newbies to roasting.

    We havent had much time lately for experimenting ;) But hopefully, we will get to do some this weekend now that the bags are done and packed. It was great to have the help of Ed and Andy :)

  7. #7
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2004

    Re: Blending for Espresso

    Hi Avi,
    I have looked at this post on many occasions over the last couple months to try to reboot my mind as to what I Should be doing. Thanks for a really good post.

    Im looking for that perfect (OK, just enjoyable) blend that I can do green. I like to roast 300 g at a time as that is about a weeks supply for me and I have found this size roast easy to manage. While experimenting I have averaged 3 times this amount of roasting per week, but my neighbor loves it. Trying to have a blend of three coffees by roasting them separately at 100g a roast is not feasible.
    I know that Ill always be experimenting with other blends, but would like to get a nice house blend down as a standard.
    If anyone has any suggestions about something that has worked for them other than what Ive read here (I have read everything on the forum already and a couple posts by Allen Frew), especially using some recently available CS beans Id love to hear about it. I really need to know the correct portions.
    Mostly I thought Avis post was worth bringing up again anyway.
    Thanks, YT

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2005

    Re: Blending for Espresso

    I really liked reading about your experience in roasting avi. I am certainly going to try your suggestions.

    I dont know if you know about this but there is a very useful article on blending for espresso on the website. I found it to be very informative.



  9. #9
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2004

    Re: Blending for Espresso

    Behmor Coffee Roaster
    You might also like to summarise your blend a little and post it to the Blending Room part of the board.

    The only downside Ive noticed is that Ive recently edited my notes on blends but the date displayed in the list is the date of my origonal post rather than last edit.

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