There are two definitions of ‘coffee blend’ that are generally understood around the world.
The first one is a coffee drink that’s blended with something else, usually a flavour or different ingredient. For example, this could be a ‘French Vanilla’ coffee (coffee with cream and vanilla flavour), a simple latte (coffee with foamed milk), or a rainbow unicorn marshmallow frappuccino (coffee with… who knows?)
The second is one you’ll more often hear around coffee connoisseurs and bean enthusiasts (that’s us). It refers to a mixture of two or more different types of coffee beans from different places. It’s the opposite to ’single-origin’ coffee.
It might not just be from different countries, but could even be from different provinces or farms – flavours vary so much, you really can get that specific. You might even find a blend of two different varieties from the same farm, but from different altitudes of the sloping hillside.
Blending is quite common in the world of coffee, and you’ll find that many of the pre-ground coffees you find on supermarket shelves are blends. This is usually done for flavour reasons, but it can also be a case of economics and business strategy.
Flavour, then, is an important part of blending. ‘Complexity’ in coffee is often a good thing; it means you can get an immediate hit of flavour as soon as you taste it, but then a few moments later you could experience subtler notes of flavours, maybe citrus or floral notes that take a moment to shine through.
You can certainly experience this with single origin varieties, but a blend can provoke a special kind of flavour alchemy by bringing different varieties together. With blends, you can achieve flavour profiles that just aren’t possible with single origins. And it goes without saying that artificially flavouring coffee just doesn’t achieve the same effect.
It’s also something that can be done for brewing reasons other than flavour. For example, in the café world, it’s fairly common to blend Arabica and Robusta beans together for espresso drinks. While Arabica is generally seen as the higher quality type of coffee (all our Neighbourhood coffee is 100% Arabica), high-quality Robusta beans can often be found in traditional Italian style espresso blends, bringing more of a body to the taste, and a nicer foam head (known as the crema).
In fact, we’ve got a few espresso blends in the shop that we’re rather proud of.
Espresso Yourself is our award-winning modern take on an all-time classic. While the blend changes throughout the year to take advantage of the changing global coffee growing seasons, the philosophy is the same: a balance of deep, chocolatey goodness with a fruity bitter hit on top. It’s currently sourced from the Brazilian Gerezim Estate and a number of farms in Huila Saladoblanco, Colombia.
You’ve Got A Blend In Me is another award-winner and a more complex, adventurous espresso blend that’s perfect as an afternoon reviver. It’s a blend of Ethiopian Yirgacheffe and Brazilian Gerezim Estate varieties, starting with a fruity blackberry & liquorice hit, with spicy, cocoa undertones to follow. Definitely one to savour with each sip.