Coffee Roast Levels

How To Make Your Own Coffee Blends at Home

Coffee Roast Levels

When blending your coffee at home you need to ensure 3 key characteristics: good body, the right balance of bitter, acidity (not the sourness of an unripe fruit but the pleasant sourness of, for example, a perfectly ripe orange) and sweet; and not least, lots of aromas.

An excellent Brazilian Natural Santos makes a great base for a blend, producing good body thanks to high presence of soluble solids, along with a little sweetness and perfect bitterness – if the roast isn’t too dark(beware). Chocolate and Caramel are the most prevalent aromas. You can also have a good Indian natural bean as your base, similar to the Brazilian with a light spicy note but less sweetness

When buying, be afraid of the dark, because over roasting produces excessive bitterness that masks coffee’s best aromas, throwing off the very balance you are seeking when buying a blend.

For the right amount of sweetness, I like a washed Costa Rica Tarrazu and West Valley and beans from other high quality Central America coffee growing areas in Guatemala, El Salvador, Panama and beyond. Many high-quality coffees from these regions will provide proper sweetness, with a pleasant, wine like acidity and wonderful fruit and toasted bread notes.

For acidity look to East Africa. Washed coffees from Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Malawi are maybe the most complex and fully aromatic coffees in the world. For a blend you might want to look for one that has a washed Ethiopia Sidamo, adding perfect sourness, along with great floral notes like jasmine and orange flowers and strong fruit aromas and flavors.

Drip Coffee Blends

Blending is about the right ingredients in the right proportions. Try this formula to start:

  • 50% Natural Brazil or Similar
  • 25% Washed Central America
  • 25% Washed East Africa

This one has good body, chocolate undertones with and medium acidity:

  • 50% Colombia
  • 25% Guatemala
  • 25% Sumatra Mandheling

This one also has good body but also berry undertones and nice acidity:

  • 65% Sumatra Mandheling
  • 35% Ethiopia

Give one or all of them a try and then start experimenting, dialing up and down components to find your own, personal blend bliss point. As you get more comfortable, start substituting other beans with similar profiles, adjusting proportions to fine tune balance.

Espresso Blends

This one is very mellow with no rough edges.

  • 25% Guatemala
  • 25% Costa Rica
  • 25% Colombia
  • 25% Sumatra Mandheling

For those who like Italian espresso

  • 35% Brazil
  • 35% Sumatra
  • 20% Ethiopia
  • 10% Guatemala

This one is smokey with just a hint of sweetness

  • 60% Brazil
  • 20% Colombia
  • 20% Guatemala

Bottom Line: Before home blending do some basic research on your favorite bean’s aromatic and flavor characteristics. The more science minded might go the extra mile, looking into genotypes and growing environments. Either way, go for a variety of characteristics – the symphony effect – instead of one favorite note.

If you really get into blending, other factors worth exploring include processing methods, with dry (*”natural”) and wet (producing coffee called “washed”) the most common. Each method removes the coffee beans from the fruit that surrounds and protects it but differs in the chemical reactions and resulting characteristics they create.

Dry processing produces coffee rich in body with more soluble solutions due to sugar migration during sun drying while the wet process produces coffee with more delicate aromas owning to light fermentation in water, containing fewer solids.

Roast level is also crucial, and related: When buying be afraid of the dark, because over roasting produces excessive bitterness that masks the coffee’s best aromas, throwing off the very balance you’re seeking by blending. Look for medium to dark roasted natural coffee and light to medium roasted washed coffee.