Why we still need coffee blend?

When we purchase coffee bean, we usually see “Blend” (Japanese “ブレンド”, Chinese “調和or 配方“ stated in the package. As its literal meaning, this bag of bean contains coffee from different countries by percentage, and before the “third wave” trending shifts our attention more and more on single origin coffee, we mostly purchased and consumed blended coffee. However, after years of development on the third wave coffee concept, many people only put their eyes on the package that stated single origin coffee or consider blended coffee is lower grade. I could not agree with that and let me explain the significance of blended coffee:

- Create a certain type of flavour. Most of cafes and roasteries will have their House Blend. This coffee blend represents the ideal or preferred flavours in their mind, but in most cases, they can’t find all their flavour on one single origin, then they will usually create their blend. This process is time consuming and contain lots of trial and error, so if you haven’t tried the house blend of your favourite cafes, do so.

- To find stability under unstable environment. As a café owner, you want to offer at least one stable coffee option so the customers who like this flavour can enjoy it all year round. But as you all know, coffee is an agricultural product and the harvest of agricultural product is always unstable. Production reduces, bean’s flavour different than last year due to soil, age of coffee trees and effects from microclimate. These can be happened on every origin and country. In this case, it is important to have a blended coffee. For example, your house blend contains 40% Ethiopian Yirgacheffe, 30% Kenya Kirinyaga, and 30% Columbia Huila, but this year you cannot get coffee from Huila due to coffee plant disease, you change Huila to coffee from Tolima region. Let’s say the flavour different is 30%, but in this blend, Columbia just contains 30%, so the total change will only be 9%. But imagine you relies on single origin.

- Cost control. There are both good and bad on this. Blue Mountain coffee, famous on its balanced flavour, limited production and expensive price. A 200g roasted Blue Mountain is usually selling at $50. Meanwhile, we can see some “Blue Mountain Blend” selling 200g for $20. “Blue Mountain Blend” in fact is some roasteries use around 20% of Blue Mountain coffee bean and fill the rest with Columbian and Brazilian coffee that has similar flavours. Good thing is, if the roaster’s technique is good, the flavour of this type of blend can be 60% - 70% similar to real Blue Mountain coffee, and you can enjoy it in a comparatively low price. However, if the roastery doesn’t tell you is a blend and sell you as real Blue Mountain price, then that is the bad thing.