Ep #5 – Holiday Blends

Home  |  Ep #5 – Holiday Blends
25K 207 12

<Dave> That’s a good deal.
<Joe> Yeah.
<Dave> And she doesn’t think I’m crazy. Think about that for a minute Right, Nicky–oh did I go to Target for you? Remember you asked me to get you something target with–Hi, Dave Borton, Mill City Roasters in Minneapolis, Minnesota along with Joe Marrocco, Cafe Imports, also in Minneapolis.
<Dave> Yeah!Today we’re looking at holiday blends, everybody’s favorite about this time of year those of you that are doing farmers markets, small wholesale, some of you have major accounts where there’s a big demand for holiday blends, so Joe is gonna take it over.We’re going to take the whole broad subject to blends today and break it down into manageable bites, or i should say manageable sips,
<Joe> Oh.. well played.
<Dave> So Joe let stalk about blends and I’ll interrupt you whenever you don’t want to be interrupted.
<Dave> Ok, perfect.Yes, I literally, just an hour before this moment– an hour ago shall i say, got an email asking me my advice on holiday blends. It is a hot topic this time of year. It’s very important topic because you want to have the blend nailed down, in your bag, and on that counter by the time holiday purchasing comes around. And that’s generally around the first of November. So you’ve got a few weeks left here to dig in and get it done.
<Dave> So up here often you’ll see themes around winter, even more so than holiday.
<Joe> And holidays are a time for families to gather together, you’ve got Thanksgiving, of course Christmas, and Hanukkah, and all of the other holidays that come over the winter season starting with Thanksgiving. So having a blend that is appropriate for what ever holidays in your region is really important. And one of the things that we do with family is we get nostalgic and we revisit the old days. We try to stay away from things that are maybe a little bit more out there or topics of discussion,so to speak, that could be a little bit touchy, touching though.
<Dave> Okay.
<Joe> By the way, who are you voting for in this–So things that we don’t want to talk about, and it’s kind of the same thing,with the holiday blend. We want to keep those holiday blends warm and we want to keep them nostalgic and maybe even a little bit on the safer side. I would argue for us coffee nerds holiday blends can be something, maybe a little bit on the boring side, but when you can take your your exciting coffee experiences and just kind of sneak them into a holiday blend, that’s also a nostalgic and warm it’s a win for you and for your family and visitors.
<Dave> And just before we went on the air Nick was talking about, what kind of blend do we have ready to go?and I went, “whawuwuwawa” and it put me on the mental trip. We’ve got two really good coffees from Joe. There’s an Ethiopian yirgacheffe in there with gorgeous deep fruits that would be complemented– would complement a Brazil base that you’ve got a yellow bourbon. So I’m going to play with that next week just because Nick coaxed it out of me. Maybe, “Borton’s Best Bear Blend,” or something like that.
<Joe> I like it. I like the fact that you’re taking a very exciting and interesting coffee and blending it with the another coffee that’s really more nostalgic and warm and comfortable, so that comfort coffee being the Brazil,and that coffee that’s kind of being more out there being that Ethiopia, and as you are thinking about putting your blends together, whether it’s a holiday blend or regular blend, I always encourage you to think about what it is that you’retrying to invoke. And since you’re trying to invoke both emotion and a culinaryaspect, think about what kind of culinary dish or item may be something that you could blend toward. So as you say that something that popped in my head,fruitcake, fruitcake blend. You know, its got your fruit its got your nuts, and it’s something that people associate with that that part of the year. May not be the best association, but it’s something that also adds a smile to people’s faces and gets them to focus on all of those years in the past. So having something that is broad enough to kind of invite everybody in but also exciting enough to show that you are coffee professional and that you want to bring something different to the table, is really important.
<Dave> Joe, if we could, lets back up about why we would blend? You’ve talked about nostalgia, you’ve talked about complimenting a particular dish or a culinary delight that you’d prepare. I’m not big into blends, ok? I could see it at the retail level or at the wholesale level that you need to put that out there at Christmastime but let’s talk about the purposes of blending because I am strictly a single origin kind of guy. You’ve got both the roasting and a Baratza barista. I just put in a free plug for Baratza. i was reading the thread and their new grinder, the Baratza Sette. You’ve got that background, both as a roaster and as a barista. Commercially, why are you blending?
<Joe> There are a lot of reasons to blend. The most practical reasons to blend is so that you can take affordable coffees and turn them into something more valuable than what you had to start. So a lot of times coffee’s that may have been single origin coffee or single origin offerings might be getting a little tired, so by adding a little bit of roast depth to them and obscuring them a bit by other coffees that are kind of similar, you can add a whole new life to those coffees. Of course, then you don’t want to alter the brand of the coffee that you had as a high-end coffee for when it comes around next year. You don’t want people thinking that it’s tired and dark roasted so you obscure it by changing the name to a blend name. That’s one reason to blend. Another reason to blend, in my opinion, is that some coffees tastes better in association with other coffees. So it may be the case that there’s a particular flavor that you’re trying to shoot for and it’s more easily achieved by gathering different coffees that have different attributes and putting them together. Almost like a recipe for any other culinary thing.
<Dave> That’s hard. I think one of the things that beginners often assume is it’s just not taking the nubs of what you’ve got leftover. Blending is a difficult task.
<Joe> It is, it is a difficult task. It’s a fun task because it gets even more culinary than just simply taking a coffee and trying to find where best tastes. A great way to start which we have shown on this program before is simply take your coffees that are brewed, your separate coffees, and then blend certain amounts of the extractions together and see how they complement each other and how they work together in chorus and then you can add you know one part, one part, one part of three different coffees and then if you like that and think it needs a little bit more of another then one part, one part, two parts, until you come up with your blend and then try that as a roasted product try blending the roasting coffee together and see if it extracts the same way, and if you like that try blending the green coffee together roasted to a certain degree and see if that works, as well.
<Dave> That video that Joe’s referring to is available to you on YouTube, Ellen Frank of Auburn, Iowa, the little green truck roaster, helped us with that one so look for it on our video. Joe, I’m sorry. I interrupted you before relative to–are there other reasons to blend? Nostalgia, holiday…a coffee begins to get a little bit long in the tooth. It’s not that it’s bad, it’s not that it’s past crop, but you can give it some zip by blending it. Are there other reasons for blending?I think that there are probably hundreds of reasons for blending, and there will be a lot of reasons that you may come up with on your own. One of the reasons that I blend is because sometimes I prefer blend, Dave.
<Dave> Really?
<Joe> Yeah.
<Dave> Give me an example.
<Joe> I like to taste a coffee that’s really unique and another coffee that’s really unique and put them together and see what they do together, how they play with each other. Some of my favorite coffee experiences have been blends.
<Dave> How about that.And when I blend, I’ll always have a pound, excuse me, a pound of Brazil.I mean that’s my go-to for a blended and so i’ll put that right on the cusp of second crack, staying out of second crack,and use that for the base notes, is that a good way to start?
<Joe> Sure, yeah, Brazil is a great place to start and there’s a lot of historical value in starting with Brazil. Most of the blends that exist around the world have either a whole lot of Brazil or a whole lot of Columbia in them, and then other coffees kind of come along to complement those coffees. There are exceptions to that, of course, during the holidays in particular, we see a lot of Kona blends, a lot of Jamaica blends, island blends. There are some historical reasons for this, of course a lot of people travel on holidays and they go to tropical regions such as Jamaica or the Caribbean Bob yeah bob marley mon load the bob marley blend that’s right Yes, so you can do those historic place ends. But you know, of course, Conar to make a coffee is–generally we’re looking at it 82 80–let’s just be very optimistic and say 85 86. Coffee, simple coffees but very expensive, so generally I see when people are blending with them they’ll try to use some historical context of what other coffees they’reconnecting with. So for instance a lot of the coffee’s that are in Hawaii came originally from Guatemala, so a lot of people will take a little bit of Kona and blended with Guatemala. they’ll call that they’re gonna blend, whereas Jamaica we have a lot of the blue mountain style Tikka coffees growing all throughout Papua New Guinea, and places like that so a lot of times I’ll see Jamaican coffee is paired with Papua New Guinea coffees so that they match really nicely. Of course, you can go a different direction altogether. Some Hawaiian coffees can’t be exquisite. There are some maui coffees out there, some Kagu coffees that are really rare and natural process tour of mocha variety, you know some different strange things out there that you can find that I would stray away from blending with because they just should be by themselves.
<Dave> Sure, the Maui mocha from Maui-grown coffee, Cece there doing a wonderful job. And how she’s brought up the mocha coffee there, and Lorie Obra down in Ka’uphenomenal typica and bourbon coffees, which I’d hate to blend away.
<Joe> Yes. Ok, so there may be opportunities over the holidays that you do have some single-origin coffees, but I would recommend that those single-origin coffees be something that are new and out there and different. For instance, the Yemen coffee would be a great holiday coffee.
<Dave> Red mark AA,It’s got a lot of floral oils in it, one layer on top of another on top of another.So you blend with some of that?
<Joe> No, I keep that as a single origin coffee.
<Dave> Amen, Amen, thank you. I was about to walk off the set.
<Joe> Yeah so, holidays are also time for those, those expensive coffees that are also invoking nostalgia, and there are also welcoming. I would maybe stray away from serving my extended family Ethiopia Yirgacheffe washed as a single origin coffee because it’s just so out there. It’s so bright and intensely different. I may keep that one to myself for the pour-over in my hotel room before heading over.
<Dave> So you’re being kind, and you’re sparing them the experiences of having an exquisite coffee as you scoff it up yourself.
<Joe> Well it depends. You may want to start with that blend and then see where the night leads.
<Dave> Ok good. Very good, very good.Nick any questions coming in from the field so far?
<Nick> No.
<Dave> Ok, so Joe let’s talk about naming. To me,it’s the most fascinating part of merchandising or retailing, that catching marketing–not tagline– but the title of your blends.
<Joe> Absolutely.
<Dave> And how do you tackle that?
<Joe> There are a lot of different ways that you can tackle that the first thing, that I would recommend to us today, in the United States, in particular, is inclusion. So saying something is just like, like I wouldn’t call something the baby Jesus blend, I probably wouldn’t call something the 12 candles blend or something like that. I would maybe keep it more inclusive, to something to do with the holidays that brings people in, instead of keeps people out. I do celebrate Christmas myself and I do think that having a blend that invokes my personal holiday, persuasion or flavors is appropriate. But, packaging that in a way, and offering that in a way that brings more people in I think is important. Thinking about names, such as fruitcake, like we just said–
<Dave> I’m not calling any blend fruitcake blend.
<Joe> You can get it from me next week it’ll be a web store– no– or something of that nature where you are taking some of the flavor experience that may be included and also invoking it to the, to the holidays. So for instance, something like think about like a fireplace, think about the the coziness of a home think, about snow all of the other things that you may want to invoke. I’ve seen some holiday blends that are very bright and exciting and they have been put into white packaging and they’ve, they’ve invoked feelings of just being out fresh, clean air. I’ve seen others that are more like green packaging and invoke a walk through an evergreen forests. Other still that are in dark deep rich packaging that invoke feelings of different styles of cookery, like desserts and cakes and fireplaces and roasted walnuts and hazelnuts, and things like that.
<Dave>Yeah, even as you begin to talk at the very beginning about nostalgia, and I was beginning to think of holidays around kid time. I mean it just generates, from me, in emotionally warmth and family home hearth, those kinds of things and I don’t think my experience is unique and so those are the kinds of themes that I would work around because in an anxious period of history people will go back to clamoring for those kinds of, lets just called a branding for a minute, that invoke at a safer time, a more inclusive, family kind of setting.
<Joe> Yeah, comfort. Another, this particular flavor calls with blend itself. So if for instance, If you are– like you use the term fruitcake that would definitely invoke a reaction.If somebody likes fruitcake they’re going to go for it. If they don’t like fruitcake, they’re not going to go for it so having something on the artistic side,can also stray people away from your from your blend. It could also lead to a broken promise.
<Nick> Youtube’s lagging again.
<Joe> Uh oh.
<Nick> Just got to give it a second.
<Joe> What you think something’s happened?
<Nick> No, like just.
<Joe> I like it.
<Dave> Yeah and we probably just left lost our Moscow feed, and so all of our viewers in Russia tune back in next week forbroad cast.
<Joe> We love you guys.
<Dave> Joe, did you get any question sent in to you in advance about it? I was going to continue one thing, real quick–
<Dave> I’m sorry.
<Joe> No, you’re good. It”s the internets fault. When you do put flavor calls into the name, like roasted hazelnut, for instance, for a lot of people that are not familiar with coffee in the way that you are, they may think that that’s a flavored coffee. They may think that somehow hazelnut has been put into the coffee itself. So by also straying away from flavor calls in the name of your blend, you are not making somebody anticipate something that’s not going to be there. You want to always set up expectations that you can meet and surpass.
<Dave> Ok, and so you’d be making those calls and the finish taste of that blend that you’re trying to deliver?
<Joe> Yes, and flavor calls would be maybe in the description line, and maybe not incorporated other than in an emotive way in the actual flavor.
<Dave> So you wouldn’t call it German chocolate cake blend?
<Joe> Correct.
<Dave> Ok, I would maybe call it a German Christmas, with notes of German chocolate cake.
<Dave> Very good. Ok I get it.
<Joe> Or a German holiday.
<Dave> I missed that the first time around.
<Joe> Cool, alright. Well, i do have a couple of questions that were emailed to me since our last event and they both came on the same day, actually. One from Will Stents, who recently watched the third video and has a lot of great things to say. Thank you for those praises, and says here, “you mentioned that not getting rid of enough water early on can mess up with the reactions of the coffee, basically as it’s going through it’s roasting process. How can you dehydrate the coffee effectively so that you actually have those reactions that are desired?
<Joe> So, if you are heating the coffee too quickly—water is very reactive, and water is a conduit for energy. So as that water starts to pull energy into the coffee seed the first layers of moisture wick out, they all of a sudden will start evaporating even before boiling point. There’s evaporative action when there is hot air flowing across the coffee. So by stifling that air you can hold the moisture in the seed long enough for the moisture to do its job and bring heat into the core of the seed, and then open up that airflow and allow for the moisture to work out evenly. If you have too much air flow early the outside moisture will wick out, but you’ll hold onto moisture in the core and it will be under too much pressure for too long and it will prevent the mail lard and caramelization reactions from happening.
<Dave> Joe, you used to roast commercially. How big of a kilo was that roaster?
<Joe> Our largeone was 70 kilo.
<Dave> So you’re working on a 70 kilo roaster. What did you shoot fordrying time, because that’s what his question is about? What’s an appropriatedrying time? Something that’s too short or something that’s too long? What do yougo after?
<Joe> Usually, about six minutes.
<Dave> Okay.
<Joe> General rule of thumb.
<Dave> Alright, and thenthe 1k–I’m usually working right around five-thirty.
<Joe> If you’re roastingwith a very small amount of coffee that drying time will go down quite a bit.
<Dave> Ok, that’s helpful because you out there have just a variety machine,all the way from 500 grams up to 70 kilos and Steve always says it, Joe always says it, every physical roaster is unique and so don’t take stuff we say as Commandments. These are general guidelines, so depending on your size,five and a half to six minutes to appropriately dry that coffee.
<Joe> That’s right. Now, Will goes on to say that he’s roasting on an air roaster and so it’s very difficult to control the temperature and the fans speed. What I would recommend on an air roaster, if you do have control is during the earlier part of the roast to have higher temperature with a lower fan speed. If you are roasting on something like a Loring, for instance, my recommendation would be to get that temperature in that Loring higher, and to keep it at a lower setting in that very first part of the roast two,two-and-a-half minutes or so and then you can bump it so that you do have some absorption before all that movement of air starts wicking that moisture away.
<Dave> If I understood correctly you said lower setting. I think you were referring to air flow there .
<Joe> Lower air flow,
<Dave> Yes.
<Joe> Higher temperature. If can have those two things disconnected.
<Dave> And Joe,I’ve never roasted on a commercial air roaster, Sivetz the big-name there?
<Joe> Yeah, Sivetz is the big one.
<Dave> And how big of an open-air roaster is out there?
<Joe> Oh man, I’ve heard of 500-pound air roasters.
<Dave> Oh my gosh.
<Joe> Yeah, they’re very large. Air roasting,so, convection is a more efficient means of heating. However, that efficiency will, in specialty coffee, skip over the maillard reaction because it will force moisture to be held in the middle of the coffee in the center and then by the time you get to the temperature where that coffee can release the moisture,you’re already well on your way through the temperature stages that maillard reaction will happen. So it can flatten out the flavor of your coffee.
<Dave> Maybe that would be a good topic us for us to pursue some time, is air roaster and even though ours are all drum roaster lineup, we’ve got folks that tune in and it would be a good peripheral knowledge for those of us working on drum roasters.
<Joe> For sure, absolutely.
<Dave> I hope that helps, Will. Well, if it doesn’t Nick is taking questions online in case we didn’t get that tightly enough for you.
<Joe> I have another question here by Rob Wood. This one’s a little bit more toward a marketing thing which we were talking about a bit earlier. He also has some wonderful things to say about the videos. Thank you for watching, and thank you for your question.
<Dave> And the emails. You guys are wonderful in responding to the feedback that we get.
<Joe> So, Rob is right now working on a home roaster and is considering moving into becoming a wholesale roaster, possibly leaving it even moving into some retail space. This is a fantastic endeavor,I encourage you to do so. I think it’s a lot of fun, I think it’s about very gratifying, but his question is, since I understand a little bit about coffee market and have some experience here, do I have any advice on market segment,wholesale, retail, retail coffee shop, etc.? this is my advice on whether or not you should start and where you should start, and this is going to be maybe a little bit touchy-feely. Start where you’re passionate. Are you passionate about roasting? Are you passionate about retail? What is it that’s driving your desire to get involved in coffee? Is your desire to be alone and focus on quality and spend a lot of time on a meditative, repetitive process? You should roast. Is your focus on being involved in your community, having a financial impact in your direct community, and touching base with several people on a daily basis? You should go into retail. Have a partner or two. I recommend having two partners if you can somehow have one person on your team that’s focused on the quality of the coffee, one person on your team that’s focused on the money, the finance and another person on your team that’s focused on the market in the public face if you can do all three that’s fantastic but I’ve never met somebody that’s perfect in all three of those, so having a team of people that have their individual jobs and they’re what we call, “aces in their places” will help you just expand and grow in such a fast way. So get a group of people together, and do what you’re good at and enjoy. If you start getting into roasting because you enjoy the camaraderie on an online roasting forum your business is going to take you away from the part of that job that you enjoy. If you enjoy roasting because of the catharsis of sitting at that machine and the meditative process, you will be an exceptional roaster.
<Dave> The zen of it. And Rob, I really like your question. So many of our customers are graduating from home roasting into a one can, a 2k and I try to hammer at home: do a business plan, do a business plan, do a business plan. And I love the way you responded to Rob, is that do some thinking, some emotive thinking around why you’re doing this even before you create that business plan, so that you have some idea. The one group that we see the most of here are the people that are involved in their communities and they understand that local is big, that local touch. “Roasted by Joe Marocco of Martins villeon such-and-such a date,” because people know Joe and they know his farmers market, they know the beauty shops, they know the diner’s where this is being served. So Joe’s is figure out what that passion is and go after it, and build your business plan, for heaven’s sake, around that passion. But, I have to stress here,have a business plan.
<Joe> Absolutely.
<Dave> Do some thinking around budgeting, do somethinking around creativity, do some thinking around–is it going to be wholesale? Is it going to be shops? Is itgoing to be farmers market? Have some critical thinking and planning as you gointo this.
<Joe> That’s right. Nick, do we have any questions?
<Nick> Oh we’ve got a few.
<Joe> Yes. Do you have a microphone?
<Dave> Or, we shall repeat questions.
<Nick> I’ve formulated this one. What is the more important:quality of green or roasting skill, or even presentation?
<Joe> What is more important: quality of green,roasting skill, or presentation?
<Dave> Yes.
<Joe> The primary thing of importance– these flow together. If you have the quality of green in place, then you have a lot of bandwidth at which you can approach that coffee. You can roast it several different ways and have it tastes awesome, and you can package it even more ways and have it look awesome, and be presented awesome.However, if you have a fantastic coffee and you burn it, it’s still going to taste as if you had not had a fantastic coffee. If you have a fantastically roasted coffee that was fantastic as green and put it into a bag that is crappy or into a cup that is dirty then it’s not gonna it’s not going to live up to its potential. So all of these things have to be in place. If you don’t start with excellent green, no matter what kind of roasting you do you’re not going to get that much out of that coffee. If you start with ground beef you’re never going to have a filet mignon. If you start with good fillet you may still have room to mess it up but it at least you have the potential there. So start with potential, protect that potential, and packaged in a way that shows what you did.
<Dave> Very good. Good question, thank you.
<Nick> What else do we have? This is kind of open-ended question–
<Joe> Wehave an open-ended question.
<Nick> Is there any blend that will still tastes like coffee?
<Joe> Is there any blend that will still taste like coffee?That is a fantastic question for several reasons. We talk a lot in specialty coffee about the nuance of coffee and we are very hyper focused on all of the nuance around coffee. But in reality most people that are drinking coffee are tasting more of what we would call “coffee’s flavor.” That nostalgic or consistent flavor characteristics that we call coffee. So, you are going to altera small amount of their perception in the way that you blend and in the way that you roast. Not nearly as much as it’s going to alter your hyper-focused,geeky expression. It’s kind of like, well for me personally I taste coffees all the time, and if you if you’re tasting coffee intensely all the time that coffee flavor starts to kind of go into the background, and you start looking through it. All of the other things that are in the coffee.However, if you can pull back and look at it the way that you used to before you knew about coffee, that’s kind of where people, in general, are approaching coffee. Do you have anything to add to that?
<Dave> No, but as I listen to you talk, that El Salvador, I think we’re sold out on it,Nick. That Joe presented us, that pacamara. Oh my gosh, I had a roasted pound ofthat home this week and I pay attention to coffee every time I sip it, but I sipthat and it’s like the quintessential Central American cup of coffee and Isaid straight up. So we gotta talk afterwards to see which customer didn’tfollow through on their order and you’re going to put Mill City at the top for getting some more of that.But, there is that crispness, there is that, “ah, right a cup of coffee right there.”Fantastic coffee.
<Joe> Yeah but, if it starts to taste too far outside of the realm ofcoffee then coffee drinkers aren’t really gonna like it. You’re going to, you know, appeal more toa tea drinker or to a soda drinker or something else.
<Dave> And then the other part of that is you’ve worked in retail, that’s an ideal time to have an interchange of ideas with the customer.What are you after? Oh, I usually drink Sumatra. Okay is it the dark roast that you enjoy or is it the Sumatran? And so you use that as an opportunity to educate your customer so you can please their palette.
<Joe> Absolutely, coffee should always be a conversation.
<Dave> And it’s always about a happy cup.
<Joe> Yes, that’s right.I think that about does it for us. Do have any more questions?
<Nick> I’m going to combine two questions, one is from Austin who won Focus,yay Austin. Next is from Rob Gardener. Could you talk a little bit more about pre-blending versus post blending with different roast levels?
<Joe> Yes, so the question is coming from Rob and Austin. Austin, by the way, we say congrats on your on your big win. And the question is about pre blending vs post blending and then you’ll have to remind me of the second part of that once I get through this train of thought. I am a proponent of pre-roast blending. I know that this is coming at a great social costs to me within the third wave because most people think that if you want to express the individual characteristics of an individual coffee then how can you do that if you’re roasting it to some other weird level. And then you take these different coffees you put them all together and you’re not roasting any one of them to the optimum level for each individual coffee in a pre-roast blend. I say that’s not true.And here’s why: if you take those three coffees and roast them individually so that each one expresses their own individual characteristics loudly, first of all the goal is really not to have a blend. The goal is to have unique characteristics that are standing out and I would say generally those do not come together in a very harmonious way. There’s usually some kind of clash there.One of them is overpowering the other. One of the reasons for that is because when you put those through the grinder,altogether you get very different particle size distribution your–
<Dave> Becauseof the depth of roast that you’ve done.
<Joe> Yes, that’s right. Ok your darker roast is more brittle, your middle roast is a little less brittle and not quite asbrittle, and then your lightest roast is not that brittle at all. So as those grinder burrs come together and they’re breaking that coffee up your darkest roast gets pulverized into very small particles. By having been roasted darker those bittering flavors are going to be more soluble than that light roast coffee is sweetness, and so you’re going to bury that light roast you’re going to have larger particles so water won’t be able to penetrate it as well. Whereas your darker roasts you’re going to have smaller particles, so water can easily penetrate it and dissolve those bittering flavors. And now, all of a sudden, you have to take your light roast and add more and add more so that it comes through the cup more cleanly but,what that does is it sets up a barista for error. So then one blend–or one brew is going to be extracted in one way and another brew is going to be extracted in another way and there’s not consistency from one batch another and this is this especially expressed in espresso. Try to say that three times fast.
<Dave> Pardon me, what’d you say?
<Joe> So if you are using an espresso machine in an espresso grinder that particle distribution is even more important.I mean if you’re going to take three different coffees roast them three different ways and then blend them why not take three different coffees, roasted them three different ways and then grind them and blend them. Or why not take three different coffees, roast them three different ways, grind them, and brew them and blend the brews. That’s actually the way that you would do the best job of extraction, grind particle size, roast level and characteristic. While you can simplify that by taking those three coffees putting them together prior to roasting. And what happens is all of those coffees together act as a mass and they all together absorb energy from the roaster and displace that energy against each other so that they’re all roasting at relatively the same temperature and time in roast degree, so that when you get them out, and you can check my work on this, you can go to Row tap or a grind distribution machine that has several different screens you can take your ground coffee you can put it into that and, you know, shake it up and the grinds fall through You’ll have different particles at different layers. And you can draw a bell curve of a roast.So you can see if this grind particle size, most of my granulates are within this part of the bell curve, less of them are over here, less over here. So you can draw this curve. If you do that with a post roast blend or blend of roasted coffees you will get humps on that curve which shows that you’re not going to get an even extraction.
<Dave> So you proposed, go ahead, so what’s– I know where you’re going with the propsal. I wanna discuss that once you hit it.
<Joe> So I propose taking the green coffee and blending it together in the appropriate amounts that you want and then roasting it. And there are other reasons for this. I think aesthetically it’s better, I think that it is better as a– what some people call a melange– your target is to have a flavor of a blend and this gives you the flavor of a blend, and that blend will be more consistent through a grinder, easier to extract, and also instead of spending time roasting three or four coffees, you spend your time roasting at once. So on the production floor, just going through a regular production day,post-roast blending does not make a lot of sense. Pre-roast blending you can put them together have them in the roaster have a better product, have it easier,faster, all of your, all of your i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed.
<Dave> Joe is my witness. I did not buy this theory. Before we did the blending video, I pre-roasted and blended and I was after the roast characteristics here and the fruits here.And I went ahead and did what Joe suggested and it was a better coffee. It was a better coffee when I pre-blended it prior to roasting than when i had my segments and roasted them separately. It really surprised me and so I make that public confession.
<Joe> Why thank you. Yeah, when you pre-roast blend you eliminate certain flavor characteristics of under and over extraction in your final product. When you post roast blend, you will get some over extracted flavors from that roast that is more brittle, as you’re trying to achieve flavor out of that roast that is the least brittle. At the same time I would like to admonish, this will eliminate certain types of coffees from your blends. It is advisable to not use a gigantic pacamara 18 and above with a tiny maui mocha that’s 11 screen size and below. You want to have a general sense of screen size, I would recommend keeping those screen size within about three to four screen sizes apart, maybe five.
<Dave> So, let’s say you’ve got a uniform screen size and I want to use a Brazilian and an Ethiopian, well here we charge that Ethiopian about 400 degrees and I charge that Brazil natural probably at 380. So if I’m pre blending and then roasting, do I want to fall on the side say 385? How do you determine your charge temperature when you got different density coffees?
<Joe> What I would recommend you do is take those different density coffees, blend them together, and do a density check.
<Dave> Okay.
<Joe> I bet what you’ll find is 1 plus 1 equals 2, or 1 plus 1 averages out to be one, so or 1 plus 2 averages out to be 1.5. So what you’ll do is you’ll get that density reading, that density reading will be split between the two density readings so you could just do the math. However, you know, the math might get fuzzy if you’re doing 10% to 90% or something like that or if you have multiple coffees. So as you’re doing your density reading you could probably skip that and think about, okay where is it going to be in the middle? And I would recommend that your drop temp be somewhere in between where those individual coffees would have fallen.
<Dave> Very good. Uh Joe, I noticed two guests just walked in do you think they might have any questions about blends today?
<Joe> Oh, good question. put them on the spot.
<Dave> Yeah they’re both saying they’ve got one question they’re dying to ask about blends. Some new friends visiting both Joe and us here from Missouri, right? From the fine state of Missouri, the show me state.
<Joe> Best state.
<Dave> The Missouri Tigers, how’d those Cardinals through this year?
<Joe> Oh, they did excellent. They were edged out at the end of the season which is much too are disgust in St. Louis, because we’re soused to them winning.
<Dave> Edged out, by how many games back? Edged?
<Joe> Right.
<Dave> Nick, any more questions? We’ll call it a wrap. Dave Borton from Mill City Roasters in Minneapolis, sending all of your early holiday wishes. Joe excellent session as always from you.
<Joe> Why thank you, sir.
<Dave> And we’ll see you next month. Call it a wrap.
<Joe> Alright, let’s wrap it up.


Addicted to coffee at a young age, Nick has turned his caffeinated attention towards coffee roasting education. Behind the scenes, Nick produces, directs, and edits all video series for Mill City Roasters.