We’ve previously explored the seasonality of coffee harvesting and how, like eating fresh produce when it’s in season, drinking coffees brewed from newly harvested beans is a more flavorful and enjoyable experience. Some coffeehouses — like thump — feature ever-changing drip coffee offerings that reflect what coffees have been recently harvested around the world. As mentioned last month, coffee blends have a different story to tell.
If you visit a coffeehouse and notice the same blend of beans being served throughout the year, the coffee roaster might use the same beans each time to create that blend (for example, a combination of Guatemalan, Indonesian and Brazilian). Those green beans might be up to a year old — the time passed since the last harvest.
Here’s a different scenario: Throughout the year, the roaster uses different, newly harvested beans in the blend and recreates a consistent flavor for the blend. For example, thump uses Stumptown Coffee Roaster’s Hair Bender Espresso Blend 365 days of the year. It’s Stumptown’s challenge to maintain a consistent flavor profile in this blend using an ever-changing selection of coffees.
Stumptown continually explores the body, complexity, acidity and flavor compatibility of their coffees. Each coffee that makes up the blend is roasted separately to develop its individual flavor profile so it will be optimally compatible with the other beans in the blend as well as to address its unique physical aspects, such as bean size, density, and moisture content (see past thumpologies on roasting). The beans are then blended together at the proper ratio to maintain that beautifully complex flavor that keeps us all coming back for more.
If you strip away the milk and flavorings and just taste the espresso, you’ll appreciate that this blend is dynamic and changing subtly and tantalizingly throughout the year because of its ever-changing “ingredients” — but it’s consistently delicious! To blend well without taking the beans to a dark roast, which effectively roasts out the flavors of the individual beans, is a true art. Three cheers for a great blend and a talented roaster!