To Melange or Not
"I only drink Singe Origin," a coffee enthusiast recently shared. It was obvious that this was important to them. I can enjoy a S.O. Indonesian espresso myself. 'Blending Basics' article quotes, "A high quality Arabica coffee should be able to stand alone; it should have good clean flavor, good aromatics, body and aftertaste." I agree. Although single origins can be "sought after" by coffee drinkers, is a Mélange wrong? No, I just think different.
Mélange, derived from French word 'meler' meaning to mix or used as a noun to mean a medley, is what coffee experts refer to the blending of coffee beans. Blending beans allows one to achieve and outcome that they could not obtain when roasting a single origin bean.
Different origin beans carry within them different characteristics such as aroma that not all beans share. Although this is not exhaustive list, here a few determiners.
- Soil content
- Global Origin
- Bean Processing
- Bean type, Arabica vs. Robusta
Arabica is generally grown in higher altitudes while Robusta lower with far more rainfall. Robusta has 2X the concentration of caffeine and Chlorogenic Acids (CGA) compared to Arabica. However, Arabica beans have 60% more lipids and almost 2X more sucrose than Robusta. Lastly Arabica is self-pollinating which means the plant will have fewer mutations and fewer variations throughout its life cycle as compared to Robusta. These will play a role in the roasting process of the bean.
Here is a great reason to blend beans. Suppose you wanted a coffee with citrus or fruit undertones found in Central and South American beans but also wanted a chocolaty or nutty flavor, which is found in an Indonesian bean or earthy tone of an Ethiopian, you couldn’t achieve this with a single origin bean.
Roasting temperature is another factor to consider when blending and roasting. For example, if you wanted to combine beans and desired a hint of dark roast without “killing” the aroma and taste of the other beans, you would roast that bean separately from the others then blend beans. Although we usually do not roast our beans FULL CITY (aka dark) because we feel it loses much of its true aroma and flavor, here's an idea for a blend that has dark roast flavors, good body, and an acidy snap to it:
40% Colombian, Nicaraguan or Brazilian roasted Full City to preserve body
30% Mexican (or other mild Central American) roasted French for sharp, carbony flavors.
30% Kenya Estate roasted City for bright acidy snap (var. bright Costa Rican or other Central American)
One of my personal favorite roasts we carry is Old Town – It is a unique blend of Sumatra, Kenya, Columbian and Coast Rica. Roasted medium. Yes, MEDIUM. Typically, most of our blends are a two bean blend. On occasion, we will blend three beans but we don't go beyond a four.
The Bottom Line
“Melanging” isn’t a bad idea just different, like a bean. When combining beans, the uniqueness of one origin mixing with the unique traits of another can make for a delicious brew. To see our current offerings Visit our store .
Special thanks to Coffeebeanblog, Sweet Maria's and Coffeechemistry for research materials.