An easy guide to choose the right coffee blend for you.
With the growing movement of third-wave coffee, coffee blends are finally starting to shake their long holding stigma. It’s no longer a way for (bad) coffee roasters to sneak low-quality coffee into the mix for the sake of stretching profit margins or moving out stale inventory. Verve Coffee Roasters is sourcing and roasting only the highest quality. We’re flipping the script of what a coffee blend can be. It’s a common question for new drinkers, who are looking to learn more about coffee, to wonder which is better...a coffee blend or single origin coffee? The real answer isn’t choosing one over the other, it’s about which coffee suits your taste preferences? Enter our handy coffee blend guide. Whether you are just starting out in the world of coffee or are looking to dive back into a new coffee after being on a single origin tip, we got you. Follow along with this helpful guide to learn the differences between Verve Coffee Roasters’ coffee blend options and how third-wave coffee is changing the way we think about blends overall.
Coffee Blending Explained
It’s pretty self-explanatory but a coffee blend is a coffee that is sourced from two or more producers. The main goal is to create a consistent flavor profile time after time while navigating the changing availability, and flavors developed by varied weather or soil conditions. They can be created from several different countries too, merging together coffee from Ethiopia with Colombia along with a dash of Honduras, for example. Blending is truly an art form with almost endless combinations to experiment with. Coffee roasters also create blends to develop signature coffee offerings, like our top-selling blend, Streetlevel, combining balanced notes of ripe stone fruit with maple syrup sweetness to create our take on the perfect shot of espresso.
Blending coffee is not a new trend, it’s been happening since the eighteenth century. The world’s oldest recorded coffee blend is Mocha-Java. It was a blend made with coffee from Mocha, a place in the Arabian peninsula (now in the Republic of Yemen) with Java, a former Dutch colony (now part of Indonesia). Mocha-Java was the world’s most popular (and original) for centuries, merging together coffee grown on opposite sides of the world. It also kick-started a coffee principle based on combining opposite flavor profiles to develop a well-rounded cup. Working off of the fruity acidity of the dry-processed Mocha helped to give a little more zip to the deeper, smoother profile of Java. Coffee blending’s core value is about finding synergy.
VERVE COFFEE BLEND BREAKDOWN
Verve Coffee Roasters has blend options for days. With 7 different coffee blends to choose from, it becomes an interesting hunt of which coffee blend is right for me? Read below for a deep dive into each flavor profile, along with some food pairings and behind the cup info to help you make an informed decision.
TASTING NOTES: Stonefruit · Marmalade · Maple Syrup
PAIRS WELL WITH: Apple, brie and arugula panini
OVERVIEW: Streetlevel espresso combines the golden amber sweetness of maple syrup with juicy stone fruit at peak ripeness. You’ll taste additional hints of freshly candied citrus peel with touches of bright acidity.
BEHIND THE CUP: Did you know we almost named the company Streetlevel? It remained a top contender but eventually found its permanent home as one of our best-selling coffee blends. The second-semester Streetlevel is comprised of two special coffees from the outskirts of historic Antigua, Guatemala. The first half was hand-selected by our green coffee team after cupping many “day-lots” from Finca Candelaria. This late-harvest stone fruit-forward blends expertly with the second half of our best-selling coffee blend from the Los Santos project. Sourced from a variety of small-holder farmers, the Los Santos project combines coffee cherries from the San José Poaquil municipality. The hillside region produces vibrant, citrus-fruit flavors that perfectly round out this top-seller.
TASTING NOTES: Chocolate · Blueberry Pie · Velvety
PAIRS WELL WITH: Banana pancakes
OVERVIEW: Sermon is a heavier bodied coffee blend that puts a new spin on a classic. It expertly merges the sweet and tart essence of fresh blueberries with silky dark chocolate flavors. We’re always looking for a consistent balance of sugar, and acid combination. You’ll be left with an ultra-smooth mouthfeel sip after sip.
BEHIND THE CUP: This coffee is comprised of three major contributors from Central America, South America, and East Africa. The first, Fazenda Primavera in Brazil, highlights a naturally-processed Catuai that contributes the baking chocolate flavors along with the hefty body Sermon is known for. Southern Ethiopia’s Aricha Factory complements the base with another naturally processed heirloom-variety. Their particular sun-dried process helps to maximize the ripe fruit complexities of this coffee. Finishing out the coffee blend is ABIDES in Colombia. Their Catuai lot amps up the milk chocolate flavors along with citrus acidities notes the region is known for.
OVERVIEW: The 1950 is made up of two seasonally rotating coffees. Each is selected to highlight the excellence of Ethiopian coffee. You’ll instantly notice a dense, candy-like sweetness with a complex spice background. Our 1950 is able to effortlessly move from filter to espresso as well as being enjoyed with, or without milk.
BEHIND THE CUP: It’s our homage to the birthplace of coffee; Ethiopia. This unique coffee blend celebrates the diverse flavor profiles of the region while highlighting Ethiopia. We’re bringing together the contributions of thousands of smallholder producers to manifest a true community-built coffee. The contributions to The 1950 coffee rotate seasonally to ensure peak quality. Currently, it’s comprised of coffee from Ambela and Gora Kone washing stations. Situated in the Binitu Ambela district, Ambela’s coffee is washed with river water before fermenting for 36-48 hours, then dried on raised beds. Their coffee lends the hallmark notes of stone fruit and jasmine to this blend. On the other side, near the Nensebo river, Gora Kone’s coffee is fermented fully submerged in fresh Gerenbicho river water before moving on to also dry on raised beds. Gora Kone rounds out the structure and aromatic spice qualities.
TASTING NOTES: S’Mores · Dark Chocolate · Caramelized
PAIRS WELL WITH: Crème brulée
OVERVIEW: If you enjoy a darker roast coffee blend, Buena Vista might be the one for you. As one of the darker roasts on our blend menu, Buena Vista is characterized by its deep structure and full body. The extended roast coupled with Latin American roots helps to develop a velvety dark chocolate with caramelized sweetness. You can count on Buena Vista to always brews a smooth and consistent cup no matter which brewing method you prefer. If you’re into the darker side, seeking out rich flavor profiles, look no further.
BEHIND THE CUP: When sourcing for this blend, we’re always looking for high quality, dense coffee that will be able to handle the longer times while still maintaining an even roast. The coffee arrives at our roastery in the form of dried green coffee, waiting to be transformed via roasting to pull out their unique and seasonal characteristics. The roasting team must keep the blend profile consistent, so adapting to agriculture variability from crop-to-crop is key.
OVERVIEW: Seabright is a classically sweet and universally loved blend. Extra love and care went into developing our namesake, making sure to deliver balance, body and complex sweetness. We strived for a balanced acidity with a fudge-like body paired with sweet toasted coconut aromas. Our year-round coffee blend is perfect in any situation; at home, office or cafe brewing.
BEHIND THE CUP: Seabright is extra close to our hearts. It’s a heartfelt reminder of the extension of our home to yours. Seabright marks the opening in September 2012 of our headquarters in the Seabright neighborhood of Santa Cruz, California. It’s the hub of all things coffee sourcing, roasting, and operations. The coffee sourced for this blend feature small-holder farmers in the Andean foothills.
OVERVIEW: Calling all dark chocolate lovers! Bronson French Roast is made especially for you. We’re hitting on all the creamy dark chocolate notes with raw sugar sweetness. This is the darkest coffee blend we offer.
BEHIND THE CUP: Another nod to our home turf, Verve Coffee Roasters is headquartered on Bronson Street in the Seabright neighborhood of Santa Cruz, California. Our coffee roasting team works off a fleet of vintage, German-built Probat roasters to offer you daily roasted coffee blends. Bronson French Roast is our darkest profile, capitalizing on caramelization to achieve a dark sugar sweetness capable of only high-grown specialty coffees.
OVERVIEW: Vancouver Swiss Water® Decaf is made up of rich Colombian and Brazilian coffees. Our signature decaf coffee blend produces a dessert-like cup with candied almond flavor with a chocolatey background. This decaffeinated coffee can hold its own as an espresso while easily switching to a filter brewing method. Enjoy this decaf coffee blend with, or without milk.
BEHIND THE CUP: While many of us enjoy the rejuvenating qualities of coffee there are some times when we want to enjoy a cup minus the buzz. We always felt that traditional decaffeinated coffees took a backseat in the flavor department. Conventional processing isn’t able to put the flavor first, and often isn’t able to highlight the complexities of decaf coffee. When developing our signature decaf coffee, we tapped an innovative partner, Swiss Water®, to expertly remove the caffeine while maintaining the full flavor integrity. Located a short trip outside beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia, our green coffee undergoes a 100% chemical-free processing using water to remove caffeine without removing any flavor. With a dash of loving attention along with close monitoring of temperature and time, the finished coffee is 99.9% caffeine-free.
PRODUCER: Various Producers
COUNTRY: Latin America
PROCESS: Swiss Water-Process
Coffee Blend FAQ
Interview with Pia Barnett, Green Coffee Coordinator at Verve Coffee Roasters
Q | Do you blend before roasting or after?
A | Verve follows a split roast or post-roast coffee blending approach, meaning we blend after roasting. Combining components before roast makes operations simpler, but it doesn’t really serve the coffee. Roasting components separately allow us to optimize the individual qualities that make the coffee special and also reduces the risk of inconsistent development. Imagine you’re making pasta, but you run out of angel hair and in a panic, you throw some fettuccine into the boiling water. Chances are, some of your pasta will be overdone and mushy, while some of it will be underdone and gummy. The same tragedy could befall your coffee blend if you combine a huge bean such as a maragogype with a smaller, denser bean such as a peaberry.
Q | Do you start the blend creation process with the desired flavor profile in mind?
A | Sometimes, yes. A good example is Sermon, one of our best-selling coffee blends. We always want Sermon to be structured and dessert-like, with identifiable notes of blueberry and cocoa. To achieve this, we slot in coffees from Brazil, Ethiopia, and Colombia
Q | What does a blend achieve that a single origin cannot?
A | In a word, consistency. Coffee is a fruit -- technically a drupe, like a cherry or a plum -- and therefore a seasonal product. Depending on its characteristics, green coffee will store well for quite a while, but some amount of perceptible change is inevitable. Really, blends are a lesson in the nature of reality -- relentlessly impermanent, and at the same time, poetically cyclical. Take as an example our flagship blend, Streetlevel. All year long, this trusty coffee blend is on offer at all of our cafes. At the same moment you’re sipping an iced Streetlevel latte in the Los Angeles sun, someone a world away is grabbing a Streetlevel cappuccino before they dash off to catch their train at Shinjuku Station. Every year, Streetlevel undergoes a transformation as the components shift from Guatemalan coffees to a Honduran-Colombian makeup. Paradoxically, this change maintains the blend’s flavor profile and identity.
Q | What origins blend best? Would you mix different regions?
A | It depends on what you’re looking for in the final product. Generally, coffees from different regions have different qualities to contribute. A natural processed coffee from Brazil will give your blend dense, jammy sweetness and structure, while a wet-processed coffee from Kenya will contribute complexity and citric high notes. We certainly do mix different regions.
Q | What are your thoughts on blending super high-quality beans?
A | Short answer, all of our coffee blend components are super high-quality. There’s a generally agreed-upon grading standard for Arabica coffee, and all of the coffee we purchase is at the tippy top of that scale. Our job is to honor the coffee, and in turn honor the human effort that went into its cultivation, production, and processing. Sometimes, individually fantastic coffees can produce a blend that’s greater than the sum of its parts. Think of any superhero team -- clearly, their individual talents are not wasted by working together.
Q | What’s the best way to brew a blend?
A | The best way to brew a coffee blend is, however you like to brew it! Each of our coffee blends is designed with versatility in mind, but they all have their individual strengths. Vancouver, our decaf coffee, makes a great shot of espresso, while The 1950, our Ethiopian coffee blend, yields a pourover with notes of peach and warm spice. Paired with steamed milk, Sermon tastes like a slice of hot blueberry pie, and Seabright shines served from a french press at the breakfast table. Just get out there and experiment!
If you’re still stuck on which coffee blend to choose, we’d be happy to help make a recommendation! Shoot us an email or give us a ring (831) 464-8141.
We believe the coffee experience is our responsibility from seed to cup. Coffee is our craft, our ritual, our passion. It drives us and inspires us. With this simple truth and responsibility we are bridging the gap from farmlevel to streetlevel.