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Blending start tips?
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David23
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David23
Joined: 27 Nov 2008
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Posted Sun Aug 19, 2012, 5:50pm
Subject: Blending start tips?
 

I've been roasting a few of Sweet Maria's espresso blends for a while now, and decided it was time to begin roasting my own blends for espresso.  I sourced green beans from a very helpful, but far away supplier, and am now begining my journey into more personal roasting. The trouble is, I am a bit lost right at the beginning.  With help from my bean supplier, I purchased some Ethiopian Yirgacheffe, Sumatra Manheling, El Salvador San Francisco Natural, Brazil Bob-o-link, and also smaller amounts of  Guatemalan Hunapu and Sumatra Peaberry. I thought I would start with a blend of the Ethiopian, Sumatra Manheling, at 50/50, then half of those amounts of the El Salvador and Brazil, making a blend of all 4. Thoughts on this blend as a start? We like brighter, fruity, sweeter and bold enough for capps.  

I have a Behmor, with no data logging, and rely on using the set programs in the Behmor just to try and simplify what appears to be very complicated.   In the past I roast on program P1 or P3, and usually hit "cool" as first crack tapers off or ends completely, but before 2nd crack. Seem reasonable?  Can I roast any of these beans together, or need I roast each of the 4 beans individually, then blend them together?  

Ok, that's where I am now.  I'm anxious for tips that will help me make reasonable progress towards our desired end of getting good, interesting espresso blends at home.  I know data logging etc. is really the only way to definitively repeat roasts, but I don't know anything about the equipment needed or process to use it.  I'd prefer to work on basics now, rather than get too wrapped up in technology. Thanks in advance for any guidance.
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rarebear
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rarebear
Joined: 13 Dec 2009
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Location: Rex. Georgia USA
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Posted Mon Aug 20, 2012, 6:29am
Subject: Re: Blending start tips?
 

You roast beans separately..
You may have better luck roasting for pour overs than for an espresso..
Its an real art to do that but roasting for a vac-pot is pretty easy..
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GVDub
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Posted Mon Aug 20, 2012, 7:33am
Subject: Re: Blending start tips?
 

My strategy has always been to start by learning the individual beans, roasting small batches to different degrees and cupping for flavor, to determine which roast level treats which beans the best. Think of what flavor profile you want the blend to have. Do you want a comfort blend, with strong cocoa and caramel notes? A more 3rd Wave espresso that brings brightness and fruit more to the fore?

Start with blends of just two beans and learn how the flavors complement each other. Sometimes it's in a good way, sometimes not so much. Vary proportions and roast degrees to learn how those things affect the final taste. Then start adding other beans.

Also, take a single origin, roast to different degrees and blend those (a melange blend). This way, you can create a blend that maximizes the taste experience of everything that bean has to offer. If it has great fruit at a lower roast, but a really deep chocolate note when roasted to FC+, you can get both qualities in a single cup if you do a melange.

Thom Owen has some good basic blending info in the coffee library on SM's website. After several years of experimentation, I came up with a blend of 40% Brazillian natural process, 40% Central (generally, for me, Guatemalan), and 20% Sumatran that I found quite nice. Reading Thom's blending piece, I realized I'd stumbled on one of the classic espresso blends. Nice to have validation, but also a little peeved to realize that I could have just found and followed that recipe somewhat earlier, sparing myself some, shall we say, less than delectable blends alont the way.

I've been experimenting recently with adding just a little bit (no more than 10-12%) of quality robusta to my espresso blend. Makes it a very traditional Italian-style, although I don't roast quite that dark other than taking the robusta to somewhere in the land between FC+ and Vienna, and adds a little extra richness and crema without being enough for the less desireable robusta flavor characteristics to kick in.

Of course, another approach is to grab handfulls of beans at random, throw 'em in the drum, roast to 2nd crack, and see what you get. As you might expect, repeatability becomes difficult at that point, but there are happy accidents.
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genecounts
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Posted Mon Aug 20, 2012, 7:35am
Subject: Re: Blending start tips?
 

Actually roasting for espresso, drip, french press, etc., is easy.  Just keep meticulous notes.  Full City roast is the same whether for drip or espresso.  FC+, vienna, etc, likewise.

Just go to Tom's roasting levels on Sweet Marias and try to meet his parameters as you roast.  I have logs on over 1000 roasts.  I currently enjoy Tom's Liquid Amber blend and have joined http://www.greencoffeebuyingclub.com/  to get some variety to do some of my own blends.

If you go to GCBC check out BoldJava's new offering specifically for blends.  Hint, it is found in Sweet Marias Liquid Amber.
Good luck!
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genecounts
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Joined: 21 Jan 2010
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Location: virginia
Expertise: I live coffee

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Posted Mon Aug 20, 2012, 9:24am
Subject: Re: Blending start tips?
 

Great stuff there from GVDUB.  That helps to understand blending basics.

Just ordered 10# of Robusta and 3# Monsooned Malabar from GCBC.  Someone that really knows blends speculates that Thom Owen has a 15% mixture of Robusta and unknown ratio of Monsooned Malabar in SM Liquid Amber.  I take my roasts on that one just past second crack a few snaps.  Talk about smoke!

I have been shipping fresh roasts to Afghanistan.  My son tells me one of the favorites is SM Liquid Amber 10 days post roast(takes exactly 10 days from roast to his hands.  Perfect..   With 18 hour days, 7 days per week, the extra caffeine makes them perk up.  His prob is trying to find the one grinder at 4AM in his unit as it floats around.

I plan to start out with 5-8% Robusta to get started.

Thanks to GVDUB, BoldJava, Thom Owen, and many et al.
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GVDub
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Posted Mon Aug 20, 2012, 9:56am
Subject: Re: Blending start tips?
 

A couple more thoughts:

Find the right base coffee - A good base is going to be something that's well-rounded and smooth, though it might be a little bland, but still tasty when pulled as a single-origin espresso. You want something that you can add flavor to with beans that might be too aggressive in some flavor qualities to stand alone, but adding those notes to the base will make an interesting shot.

Think about balance the same way you do in cooking. After all, coffee is cooking. If you're a creative cook, you think about the way flavors blend in a recipe. Same thing applies to coffee - a little note of something, say a heavily fruited African, might add just the brightness and cut the heaviness of a big-bodied Brazilian to make a balanced blend with personality.

Being a musician, I tend to think in musical terms when blending. Attack, decay, sustain and release, Bass, Middle, Treble, etc. I think of Sumatrans and the like as bass notes, bright, high-altitude Centrals and Africans as treble, and Brazilians and Costa Ricans as Mids, then try and blend for harmony and a nice taste envelope. The analogy might be different for other people, depending on their background, but, in the end, it's all about balance, at least for my palate.
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David23
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David23
Joined: 27 Nov 2008
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Posted Mon Aug 20, 2012, 12:36pm
Subject: Re: Blending start tips?
 

GVDub Said:

A couple more thoughts:

Find the right base coffee - A good base is going to be something that's well-rounded and smooth, though it might be a little bland, but still tasty when pulled as a single-origin espresso. You want something that you can add flavor to with beans that might be too aggressive in some flavor qualities to stand alone, but adding those notes to the base will make an interesting shot.

Think about balance the same way you do in cooking. After all, coffee is cooking. If you're a creative cook, you think about the way flavors blend in a recipe. Same thing applies to coffee - a little note of something, say a heavily fruited African, might add just the brightness and cut the heaviness of a big-bodied Brazilian to make a balanced blend with personality.

Being a musician, I tend to think in musical terms when blending. Attack, decay, sustain and release, Bass, Middle, Treble, etc. I think of Sumatrans and the like as bass notes, bright, high-altitude Centrals and Africans as treble, and Brazilians and Costa Ricans as Mids, then try and blend for harmony and a nice taste envelope. The analogy might be different for other people, depending on their background, but, in the end, it's all about balance, at least for my palate.

Posted August 20, 2012 link

Thanks everyone, this is all very helpful (and encouraging).  GVDUB's post above in particular helps me more clearly understand the concept of the blending process. I'll be starting right away.
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rarebear
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rarebear
Joined: 13 Dec 2009
Posts: 213
Location: Rex. Georgia USA
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Fiorenzata Bricoletta
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Posted Mon Aug 20, 2012, 11:22pm
Subject: Re: Blending start tips?
 

Most Espresso blends are mainly Brazilian I read some place..
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GVDub
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Joined: 25 Jan 2008
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Location: Los Angeles, CA
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Espresso: Londinium I, Arrarex...
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Roaster: Behmor 1600
Posted Tue Aug 21, 2012, 7:02pm
Subject: Re: Blending start tips?
 

rarebear Said:

Most Espresso blends are mainly Brazilian I read some place..

Posted August 20, 2012 link

That used to be true, but roasters who are catering more to the 3rd Wave shops are stepping beyond a lot of the older traditions in blending. A lot of modern espresso blends are brighter, roasted lighter, and less dependent on commodity Brazilian, at least when it comes to many of the roasters who sponsor CG. You're more likely to find blends that give the Brazilian coffees a miss altogether, chasing a lighter, fruitier flavor profile.
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farmroast
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farmroast
Joined: 13 Jul 2006
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Location: Amherst MA.
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Posted Tue Aug 21, 2012, 8:05pm
Subject: Re: Blending start tips?
 

You could roast a light c-c+ DP Ethiopian(fruit, a fc+ Sumatran, A just into a couple snaps of 2nd PN Brazil, and a FC-FC+ Central. Keep them separate and measure and blend per cup/shot adjust.
Use the Brazil and/or Sumatra sa base
Centrals mids.
Ethiopia fruits citrus highs

 
Ed Bourgeois... LMWDP #167
please visit my blog
http://coffee-roasting.blogspot.com/
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