Most coffee sold for home brewing or in coffee shops is actually a coffee blend. This means that two or more types of coffee beans or roasts were used in making the coffee. Coffee beans may be blended before or after roasting, but it’s usually preferable to roast the beans together, unless there’s a specific reason not to (for instance, large variations in the size or density of the beans).
One hundred percent Arabica beans create a superior cup of coffee on their own and are best left unblended. However, blending beans in other cases is often preferable to roasting and packaging a single type of bean. When done well, coffee blends can be balanced and aromatic with a well-rounded flavor.
Why Blend Coffee Beans?
Coffee merchants create coffee blends for a variety of reasons. First is the ever-popular “signature” blend. Most coffee shops and manufacturers have their own blend that they’ve developed over the years. Loyal customers are familiar with the nuances of the blend, and know they can only get their favorite blend at a particular coffee shop.
Another reason to blend is for consistency of flavor. Some coffee manufacturers create blends using a variety of roasts, so that if one roast becomes suddenly unavailable, it can be quietly replaced without a glaring difference in taste.
Finally, many blends are created to help keep costs reasonable. While a cup of 100 percent Arabica coffee is delicious, it’s also rare–and therefore, expensive. Many coffee houses create blends using a mixture of Arabica and Robusta beans to bring down the cost, while still maintaining some of the flavor of the high-quality Arabica beans.
Common Blends of Coffee
Many regular coffee drinkers have their own favorite blend. Some blends are common across a number of coffee shops and manufacturers. For example, a very popular coffee blend is mocha java, a combination of Indonesian java and Yemen mocha. Espresso blends typically mix Robusta beans into the higher-quality Arabica beans to increase body and add sharpness.