Specialty coffee blending is the art of combining coffees to create a flavor profile that is consistent and balanced in the cup. Different blends are used for different qualities. Lighter body blends work well for traditional breakfasts accenting the oils in bacon and eggs creating a fuller body. Medium body blends can be great all day as all around sipping coffees. Fuller body and darker roasted blends work well after dinner with desserts (especially chocolate). One of the most important of the blends Morning Glory creates is our espresso blend. Although there has been a movement in recent years to utilize single origins in espresso brewing, it is still the "blend" that brings balance to the cup when brewed by this method. Espresso blends are typically three or more coffees from a variety of origins and sometimes a variety of roast degrees. The basic idea is to create a balance of flavors that will shine through the espresso brewing process. The coffee is brewed quickly under pressure, highlighting the strongest character of each coffee in the blend. Northern Italian style tends to be lighter in roast character and Southern Italian style is darker with more roasty notes. The important thing to understand when choosing a blend is that there is virtually no standard recipe for degree of roast, ratio, or coffee type from roaster to roaster. It truly is the abilities, experience and palate of the person creating the blends that make a blend good or not so good.
The art of blending in Specialty coffee allows the customer to experience well balanced coffees that are tailored to specific meals or time of day. On the other hand, commercial coffee blending is used to create consistency while maintaining cost and margins, regardless of overall quality. There is also a third form of blending coffees that all consumers should be wary of. Many roasters, big and small fall into the trap of blending high profile coffees in order to use an origin name. We have all seen coffees labeled "Kona Blend", "Kona Style", "Jamaican Blend" or "Jamaican Style". These products do not represent the coffees they are advertising. In the case of "blends," the actual ratio of the named coffee is often very low creating a product that in no way resembles the origin or its characteristics. In fact, there are laws in Japan that prohibit such blends or place minimums on how much of the named coffee is actually in the blend. The Coffee industry in Hawaii continue to struggle with truth in labeling laws concerning the percentage of Kona District and other Hawaiian coffees present in blends. the Hawaiian Coffee Association and other Hawaiian Island farmers continue work on this issue however, the consumer must always check the label carefully if they are expecting 100% Hawaiian coffee.
If a brand uses the term "style" on its label it is a guarantee that there is absolutely none of the named coffee in the bag. These coffees are created to mimic an origin such as Jamaican Blue Mountain (Blue Mountain Style) and capitalize on the name to market the product. The product may palatable but this type of marketing scheme dilutes the authenticity of the named origin and in no way represents the actual quality and value of the named coffee.
In closing, be sure to enjoy your local roasters signature blends for what they are; handcrafted, well balanced coffees that marry the best attributes of the origins they are working with. Avoid commercial blends that are maintaining costs over quality and avoid any coffees that mislabel or use an origin as a marketing ploy.
The truth is in the cup.