I’ve been thinking about filter blends recently and what place they have in our end of the industry. The focus on single origins, micro lots, and not on blends would suggest that in a few years time the filter blend might be quite rare. I can’t decide how I feel about this, and whether I actually believe it could happen. Obviously at a basic consumer level, a blend will always be an attractive all rounder especially for the not so sure coffee buyer.  However if we then consider how much we’re enjoying our single estate coffees and cup of excellence lots recently it would seem wholly unnecessary to want to twiddle with them in an attempt to create a blend.  Do we feel a blend will better display a coffees character or is it more that in a blend it can play unique roll that perhaps no other coffee could fill. This talk could be borrowed from espresso blending literature yet I think filter is so different that it needs individual consideration. Does a blend have something to offer a single origin never will?

I remember loving two blends Intelligentsia had over the summer, the Summer Solctice and the Red Sea Blend. The Summer Solctice was particularly good and I remember especially loving the balance of profiles in the cup. It was one of the few coffees that I will always remember from that summer. So now I’m wondering have any of you ever tasted a coffee that worked better in a filter blend than by itself? Do the same rules of blending for espresso apply for filter?

Its interesting to see how many filter blends Intelligentsia are offering, and Stumptown, and more locally, Hasbean.

I just don’t see myself buying many blends over single estate coffees and thus questioning the role they’ll play in time to come.



6 thoughts on “blends

  1. (the following is not about espresso)

    Blends are one of the most effective ways for a roaster to augment coffee’s that are under-performing and need the help of another ingredient to bring it to life, balance, hide its flaws, or fill in the gaps.

    Not to say that blends are ‘bad’ coffee, but I believe there are many greens that simply call out to be paired, and don’t stand up to say much on their own – or lost it.

    blends are also very marketable as they put a ‘custom’ spin on roasting – with names that can be trade marked.


  2. Do you think you’re alone in that opinion or would you expect that is also a premise for roasters? Have you ever seen a blend comprised of all high end, fully unique, wonderful by themselves, coffees?

    I hadn’t thought of the marketing angle.

    thanks for your words

  3. I personally think that filter blends are a way of me expressing some awesome coffee blends I’ve stumbled across that just fall over in the espresso machine. I LOVE singe origins and I’m a little obsessive but I also enjoy blends and its not a bad thing.

    I also think the blend is a way of making speciality coffee accessible to people who just don’t get single origins. Slowly slowly catchy monkey 

    Glad you mentioned us in the blog didn’t realise you had moved, thought you had been quite for a while  Looks great

  4. “I also think the blend is a way of making speciality coffee accessible to people who just don’t get single origins.”

    I had customers the other week with cash in hand ready to buy a pound of whole beans, and they just could not wrap their brains around the idea that we only had one blend, the “House Blen”. They were not looking for “flavored” coffee, they knew enough to want whole bean “specialty”, but could not bring themselves to drink something that only comes from Huehuetenango, or Handuras, or some place they have never heard of. In their mind, it can only be good when blended.

    On the other hand, a woman from France came in a specified she would only drink Brazillian coffee. She has never had OUR Brazillinan, she has never heard of the farm or the region, but won’t have it from anywhere else. In her mind, it can only be good from that origin.

    The palate of coffee experience for most people is monochromatic. They will only take tiny steps outside of the comfort zone. If blends bring them into the fold, then we should mix it up. Catch them off guard with a 90%/10% blend and they may begin to wonder if that 90% would be great all on it’s own. I offered to blend to order for the couple with the fist full of dallars. I am not sure what they thought of that, but I imagine it is more exciting to see someone weigh it out than to buy it prepackaged.

  5. I’m with Phil. I think Single Origins and microlots are what the top end roasters are moving towards. It’s like trying to stop a train.
    Especially for drip coffees and the likes.

    I would enjoy a high grade mix of a two or three bean blend of primo stuff if it were labelled with contents/origins but especially in espresso, few people have the guts to do that.

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