Do you love coffee, but feel like it's becoming the proverbial “daily grind”? There's nothing like the taste of true gourmet brew but the same brew morning after morning can get a little monotonous. One way to solve the problem is simply to try different flavors and brews of coffee. Another solution is to vary the way you prepare it; for example, by using a French press instead of a drip pot. But there's different solution that requires only a little creativity on your part: you can try making your own coffee blends.
This might be just the thing you need to put a little variety into your coffee routine.
Tips for Making Your Own Coffee Blends
If you are a spontaneous person or don’t have time for any advance planning, you can start by blending any two or three different types of coffee you happen to have at home already. This will basically just help get your feet wet and allow increase the discernment of your palate. This is a “win-some lose-some” approach as there's no guarantee that what you have in your cupboard will make for a good match. But alas, there's still plenty of value in the process.
Tip: We recommend mixing single origin coffees as opposed to other blends. Using single origin coffees (coffee sourced from the same farm) are better for more than just one reason. First, they are often higher quality beans than blends. Second, it will be easier to make adjustments when you use only a single type of coffee as opposed to a blend.
I've had good luck recently blending a medium-ground French roast with a pulverized coffee from northeast Burma. The dark French roast provides some bite, while the medium-dark roast of the Burmese coffee is mellower; the two balance out very nicely. The drawback of the spontaneous method is that it depends on the “luck of the draw”: whatever coffees you happen have on hand at any given moment may or may not complement each other. With a little planning in advance, you can select two or more coffees that complement each other, resulting in a better blend.
Making your Own Coffee Blends by Roast
There are different ways to choose which beans to blend. One way is to mix two different roasts. Mix a light or medium New England or American roast coffee, for example, with a darker, French or Italian roast. This will give you the acidity of a light roast plus the pleasant, light oil and smoky taste of a darker roast.
As you may already know, light roasted coffees express more of the coffee beans natural flavors. With light roasts you often get to enjoy the subtle nuances of the coffee bean whether it's a refined fruitiness or complex notes of chocolate and nuts. Darker roasted beans on the other hand deliver the punch of a bold strong coffee and typically mask the coffee beans natural flavors. Medium roasts offers the best of both of these worlds.
Recommended Coffees for Making Your Own Blends:
Making your Own Coffee Blends by Geographic Region
Another tip for making your own coffee blends is to pick beans from two or three different geographic or climatic regions. For those who don't know, the climates in which a coffee plant is grown has a huge impact on the flavor of the coffee bean it yields. For example, African coffees are typically more floral and fruity than other coffees. In contrast, coffee grown in Asian countries are known to for their earthiness and heavy body. Having said this, a perennially favorite approach is to blend one coffee from Africa (Ethiopia or Yemen) with another from Indonesia (like Sulawesi or Sumatra) in what is known as a Mocha-Java blend. Out of the Grey Coffee offers amazingly good coffee and as we mention frequently, have yet to try anything we haven't liked. Try, for example, mixing Ethiopian Harar with a Sumatran coffee. That will give you the rich, fruity taste of the Harar plus the full-bodied earthiness of the Sumatra. Or try mixing a Central American bean with one from Brazil or Colombia, giving you a mix of Central American flavor and South American body.
Tip: As you mix and match your beans, you can also use this handy coffee infographic to see the characteristics of different types of beans and brewing methods.
As a side note, some store-bought blends mix in beans that are generally considered to be “not the best” quality. Making your own coffee blends at home gives you the option of including only premium beans and creating a coffee experience suited to your tastes. You can really have some fun experimenting with different flavors. And for those looking to get acquainted with the subtleties of flavor, this is a great way to refine your taste buds and identify the perfect combination for you.
The possibilities are endless; whatever you decide to blend, experiment, have fun, and most of all enjoy the process! If you have any great combinations you'd like to share with us, we'd love to hear about them in the comments.