To blend or not to blend?

Our current Dutch Champion Zjevaun Lemar Janga is working hard on his WBC presentation in Melbourne. Contrary to the former champs Coen van Sprang and Yakup Aydin, Zjevaun is thinking of using a blend. But what are the pros and cons? And, what will WBC judges think of blends. Trained Professionals as they are, they should judge every coffee, blend or not, without any prejudice.

The British indie Coffee bar Eighpointnine (they start shipping coffees next month to the Continent) is a strong supporter of blends.  What do you think? We’d love to know what’s in your cup and why?

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A lot of people like to tell you that single origin or single source coffee is the best coffee. Whilst this may be true for some people it surely isn’t for everybody given each person has a unique sense of taste asdiscovered by Arthur L. Fox, a scientist working for DuPont, way back in 1931.

But that aside, have you ever wondered why that espresso from the coffee shop on the high street tastes completely different from the one you bought last week from your local cafe? It’s just coffee right? Coffee flavours differ from country to country, from plantation to plantation and even right down to the plants the bean comes from – so it’s likely that in a week you’ll sample coffee from numerous locations around the world - with no jetlag!

For those less geeky, let’s get some definitions out of the way before we give you our thoughts on why it’s better to buy coffee blends versus single origin coffee. So some definitions…

  • single origin - basically what it says on the tin. Coffee that comes from just one plantation or country, e.g. Brazil, Guatemala, Kenya etc…(MVDJ- SINGLE ORIGIN = COUNTRY, SINGLE ESTATE = PLANTATION)
  • coffee blends - when two or more types of coffee are combined from different regions/countries/plantations.

We think asking someone whether they prefer coffee made from a single-origin bean or a blend is similar to asking whether they prefer a church hymn or an aria. Both have their time and place, but they’re definitely very different styles of music. Perhaps you’d like to think of it as the difference between a blended vs single malt whiskey, if you are that way inclined!

If you have read this far then you are probably pretty interested in coffee, maybe you are the type who knows what is in your cup: “I’m drinking Brazilian Minas Geraisat the moment darling” That’s nice if that coffee gives you everything you want, but wouldn’t it be better still if you were able to really personalise your cup to your individual tastebuds. You can be creative and really experiment with a blend, it gives you that flexibility to tailor the flavour so instead you can tell your fellow coffee geeks: “I’m sipping a rich, sweet seductive blend of Colombian Bucaramanga coffee with a dash ofBrazilian and Costa Rican beans to add some crispness. Better right?

So, back to the main topic, why buy a coffee blend? Here’s the 4 reasons we promised:

  1. Firstly we think a blend produces a better and more well rounded coffee, by introducing other coffee origins to boost weaker areas of the base coffee so that the mixture of flavours, aromas and textures complement each other.
  2. Like wine, the best coffee’s are often blends. Most of the best coffee shops (and Starbucks) use blends to ensure their customer’s are happy and on the wine front it is a similar story as luxury traveller describes rather nicely in its great profile of Champagne: “Each cellar master creates a unique blend, or cuvee from as many as 70 different base wines - the specific style of each producer. For this reason, every champagne is a unique creation”
  3. Some things taste better together than on their own– strawberries and cream, chocolate and chilli, bananas and toffee. Your coffee blend is no different, certain pairings just go so well. We have our favourites but the beauty of a service likeeightpointnine is you can try your own.
  4. And finally, isn’t single origin a bit boring? And who wants to be known as the person who drinks boring coffee?

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