The North American specialty coffee market has shown a tremendous amount of development over the last 20 years or so. In recent years, we’ve seen an explosion in the number of artisan roasters, many of which are quite small. These craft roasters have been instrumental in moving roasting styles beyond the once ubiquitous “dark roast” and also in expanding the consumption of higher quality beans.
Blending, however, remains one area where the industry has lagged. So many roasters work assiduously to develop their coffee roasting skills and also their green coffee buying skills. Many spend too little time, though, learning how to blend. They wrongly assume that blending plays no role in specialty coffee. What they fail to grasp, however, is that blending is particularly important for espresso as no single bean can provide the attributes sought in a great espresso.
By mastering blending, a roaster will understand how to preserve the positive attributes of the blend’s beans while also eliminating their less desirable attributes. They’ll also grasp that the key to a great espresso blend is not just using high-quality beans but also knowing WHICH high-quality beans to use. A skilled blender will often select beans that they would never serve as drip coffee. When done well, the resulting espresso blend will be far superior to any single bean. The whole, in other words, will be greater than the sum of its parts.
Below are some articles we’ve written on blending:
Blending for Italian Espresso- Part I (Published in Roast Magazine)
Blending for Italian Espresso- Part II (Published in Roast Magazine)
Busting One Robusta Myth (Blog Post)
Cupping and Espresso: One Lesson Learned (Blog Post)
Improving the Crema and Mouthfeel of Your Espresso Blend (from our monthly newsletter)