6 steps to develop unique coffee blends

Coffee expert and Cavite State University professor Dr. Ruel M. Mojica discussed the six steps to develop a unique coffee blend during a webinar on 28 April 2022 hosted by the DA-BAR. 

“Coffee blending is the process of mixing different coffees to improve its sensory attributes (acidity, aroma, body, flavor, and aftertaste),” said Dr. Mojica. 

Blending reduces the cost of coffee products while ensuring the consistency of the taste or cup quality, thereby creating your own unique blend and brand. 

To start, choose your preferred varieties.  

The Philippines is among the few countries that can produce all four commercially viable coffee varieties — Arabica, Liberica, Excelsa, and Robusta. Each of these varieties comes with their own set of advantages and disadvantages. Dr. Mojica advised to scrutinize each coffee variety and identify its supply availability to help you choose the best bet. 

If you will be outsourcing your green coffee beans, keep in mind that good quality ones should be homogenous, fairly uniform in size, and have a moisture content of not more than 13% which is ideal for roasting. It should be free from molds, live insects, and foreign odor. 

Next step, decide the type of blend — blending before or after roasting. 

Blending before roasting is used for the consistency of the product. It produces a blend that has a unique flavor. Compared to the next type, this is a more economical choice because you only need to roast once. 

Blending after roasting means that each coffee variety is roasted separately with different time and temperature. This will cost you more since roasting will be done for each variety. However, the flavor will be optimized using this method. 

Next step, decide on the degree of roast — light, medium, medium-dark, or dark. 

Light or cinnamon roast is light brown with a light body and no oil on the surface of the beans. It has a more acidic taste but higher antioxidant composition. Internal temperature should reach 180°-205°C.  At or around 205°C, the beans crack or expand in size. 

Medium or American roast is medium brown with more body than light roast. It also has no oil on the bean surface. Internal temperature should reach 210°-220°C between the end of the first crack and just before the beginning of the second crack. 

Medium-dark or Vienna roast has a richer, darker color with some oil beginning to show on the surface of the beans. Internal temperature should reach 225°-230°C in the beginning or middle of the second crack. 

Dark or espresso roast is dark brown or sometimes black with a sheen of oil on the surface. It has less acidic taste, slightly less caffeine, and shorter shelf life. Internal temperature should reach 240°C at about the end of the second crack or beyond. 

For this step, Dr. Mojica emphasized the importance of knowing your roasting equipment well because the combination of time and temperature is crucial in this part of the process. He recommended using one with an option to control the temperature and time. 

Next step, create your own unique coffee blend. 

Decide on the quantity of the product that you want to produce, then on the combination of variety and degrees of roast. It can be the same-, two-, or three-crops blend. 

“Start with a base coffee that you like. Think about what you would add to make it ‘better’ and choose a second coffee that has those qualities. If you are daring, choose a third coffee and possibly a fourth. Beyond that, most experts agree that you will start canceling out the benefits of blending,” said Dr. Mojica. 

Next step, evaluate your coffee through cupping. 

Coffee cupping is the professional practice of observing the tastes and aromas of brewed coffee but it can be done informally by anyone. Following the Specialty Coffee Association of America Cupping System, evaluate your coffee based on the following sensory attributes: acidity, body, aroma, and flavor. 

Last step, choose the blend with the highest score on cupping and produce it. (### Rena S. Hermoso)