Coffee Blending Strategies

Have you ever noticed that on the supermarket shelves most of what you can buy are coffee blends? If single origin estate coffees are so fabulous, why would you want a blend? There are many reasons for creating blends, but the two main ones are to make a blend that tastes better than any of its parts individually (the whole is greater than the sum of the parts) or for large roasters to save money by “watering down” the expensive coffee with cheaper, inferior beans.

Assuming you are the coffee connoisseur that is looking for excellence in quality, let me explain the art of blending by using a perfume analogy. When perfumers (affectionately called a “Nez” or Nose) design a fragrance, they generally think of the scent as having three notes, a high, middle, and low.

  • The high note is made of fragrances that are the first impression. They are bright and assertive scents, like citrus and ginger, but evaporate quickly.
  • Then the middle notes shine, which are more mellow and create the “heart” of the perfume, such as rose or lavender.
  • Lastly, as the middle gradually fades, the low notes show through, like a musk or plant resin. These are what bring depth and solidness to the perfume, and act as fixatives to cause the entire fragrance to last longer.
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