Roasting 101: All about Coffee Blends

Curious how to create your own coffee blends? RNY’s Joe Borg & Mike Romagnino are here to share how to plan and incorporate your own blends with your offerings!

Creating Custom Coffee Blends

Creating custom blends can give roasting companies the opportunity to be creative in developing their own blend recipes and flavor profiles. Blends can actually offer different characteristics based on the different roasting levels and bean ratios. Generally, some blends will stay consistent on coffee menus by switching out green components while other blends are based on seasonality.

When it comes to constructing and roasting coffee blends, you have the option of pre-blending or post-blending coffee. Pre-blending consists of constructing a green coffee recipe of different components, blending them together and roasting a batch. Alternatively, post-blending is roasting the green coffee components that make up a recipe individually and blending the roasted coffee together. There are benefits to pre-blending and post-blending, but a lot of it comes down to preference and workflow.

Pre-Blending vs. Post-Blending

Pre-blending gives you integration of flavor profiles being roasted together with a consistent roast level and development. Moreover, there is better color uniformity and consistency when brewing. Traditionally, you will have a longer duration and development time when roasting blends as opposed to single origin offerings. It may take roasting multiple trial batches to dial in your flavor profile. You will need to find the right roast level and development time that works best for your blend recipe.

On the other hand, post-blending gives you the ability to alter/change a recipe by adjusting component percentages or eliminating a component entirely. Coffees can be sold as single origin offerings or blended as needed based on volume and orders. Since coffees are roasted separately and most likely at different roast levels, there will be less color uniformity. You may also encounter variables when brewing. Additionally, some roasters may use the same coffee, roasted to different levels, and then blended to achieve a different flavor profile.

Roasting blends will give you the flexibility to blend away lower quality green coffee. Simultaneously, you’ll be blending away a roasted batch that did not meet profile and price targets. These practices are common with many coffee roasting companies.

Important Blending Practices to Note

It is important to cup and brew all of your blends. You will want to make sure your blends are performing on the cupping table with the desired flavor profile and stays consistent as you transition through different green components. Batch brews will offer you an additional opportunity to evaluate your blend recipe and have a similar experience as your customer base.

Reviewing cost analysis is very important. You may have a wholesale customer seeking a specific flavor profile or blend at a specific price. Knowing how to quickly calculate what your green cost is for your blend will enable you to be nimble when making decisions on what to buy and for which accounts to maintain profitability. Here is a worksheet that could help you determine what your blend would cost depending on the individual coffees and the percentages you decide you want to use:

Royal New York Coffee Blend Costing Sheet

Tip: create a spreadsheet and plug in your formulas to allow you to access quick results. This is our recommended formula: Multiply your green coffee cost by the percentage you decide you want to use in your blend and that is your cost for that specific coffee in your blend. Next, make sure your total % is equal to 100. Lastly, add the cost of the blend totals. That dollar value will equal the total cost of your green blend pending your percentage totals for each coffee.

Common Coffee Blends

Certainly there are many kinds of blends to choose from as you begin your coffee blending journey. Therefore, below are a few common blends to get you started! Also included are examples of coffees to use in each blend from Royal New York’s offerings.

House Blends/Breakfast Blends

House blends are typically medium to full medium roast profiles and can be pre or post-roasted. They commonly consist of Central and South American coffees. These coffees are usually on the medium side of the scale of acidity and complexity. This creates an easy-going flavor profile that a majority of consumers can enjoy all day.

Featured Offerings from Royal New York:

RNY # 52592 El Salvador SHG Finca La Esperanza

RNY # 53768 Guatemala SHB Lake Atitlan Finca Santo Tomas

RNY # 49383 Costa Rica SHB Tarrazo La Pastora

Dark Roast

RNY # 51344 Sumatra Samosir Island Wet Hull Triple Picked

Dark roasts will most likely use a lower acidity and a bigger bodied coffee as the main component. All things considered, Indonesian coffees work very well to take on heat for darker roasting. We recommend blending with a SHG or SHB higher altitude grown Central/South American with medium range acidity and sweetness. Subsequently, these would mellow out the possible harshness or earthiness that you sometimes get with an Indonesian coffee. As these combinations could also help your blend cost since Indonesians tend to carry a premium, blend them with a lower cost Central/South American coffee. This will balance out the cost structure of your dark roast blend.

Featured Offerings from Royal New York:

RNY # 51344 Sumatra Samosir Island Wet Hull Triple Picked

RNY # 53835 Honduras SHG Cerro Azul

RNY # 53920 Organic Mexico SHG EP Chiapas Fair Trade

Espresso Blends

Crema, balance, and drinkability are important factors within an espresso. Undoubtedly, we can argue how sweet or acidic we want our espresso to be because there are many ways to come up with your own components to create a unique espresso blend! Successful and consistently favored blends are ones with strong chocolate notes. Furthermore, there tends to be a preference for those with nutty flavors on the back end that maintain good body and a strong crema. These components allow the espresso to work well by itself but will also stand up to your milk and plant-based alternatives! For example, Brazil’s are great to balance the blend and push some nuttiness through the espresso. Then, couple these with a Central American or South American to increase the sweetness and a small percentage of Indian Monsoon or even India Cherry Robusta to boost the crema.

Featured Offerings from Royal New York:

RNY # 53823 Mexico HG Chiapas

RNY # 51107 Colombia Supremo

RNY # 53210 India Cherry Robusta

Holiday Coffee Blends

RNY # 53588 Ethiopia Natural Anaerobic Gera GR1

Finally, it’s never too early to plan out your holiday coffee! With the summer here and the fruity coffees from Ethiopia/Central America in abundance, why not look ahead and secure what you’re looking for? We have seen great success with a natural Ethiopian coffee blended with an Indonesian coffee to create a fruit forward/chocolate bomb. Think blueberry/strawberry covered chocolate in a cup with unique processes such as anaerobic fermentation. Likewise, you can even look at adding in some spice/cinnamon flavors to your blend to increase the uniqueness!

Featured Offerings from Royal New York:

RNY # 50867 Sulawesi Toraja Sapana Minaga

RNY # 54752 Organic Java Taman Dadar

RNY # 53588 Ethiopia Natural Anaerobic GERA GR1

Blending coffees gives you endless abilities to create a coffee that is unique to you and your brand, whether it’s based upon a flavor profile, roast profile, rotating older inventory or cost benefits. Have fun with it! If you need advice, ask your trader. We are here to help and have endless resources to get you where you need to be!