It goes without saying that coffee is sometimes misunderstood. It’s not about purists shunning the addition of sugar, or refusing anything but a straight-up espresso. It’s about understanding coffee a little better so you know what to expect and how to get the best flavour from it. The uncomfortable truth is that many coffee drinkers aren’t getting the best from their coffee – there could be a bit more bang for your buck to be had out of it. And at the end of the day, no matter where you stand on the coffee drinker spectrum, all any of us are looking for is a proper tasty cup of coffee.
Knowing what to expect from your single origin coffees and your espresso blends is a perfect case in point. A little knowledge goes a long way here and could help you to choose, prepare and drink the kind of cup you want to be sipping.
The espresso blend
Done well, a blend is designed to deliver all-round balance. Sweetness, acidity, mouthfeel and finish all come together to give you a consistent cup of coffee that tastes delicious no matter how you’re drinking it. But a decent blend is about more than just balancing a few flavour profiles. Everything from the roasting process, to the blend ratios needs to be meticulously considered and brought together so that the resulting coffee becomes much more than just the sum of its parts.
Think of your blend as a reliable, lip-smacking, tasty all-rounder. It’s who you’ll turn to when you want a milky flat white, but it’ll still stand equally tall as a straight-up ’spro, and come through well as a filter too.
It’s worth pointing out that blends are also naturally more forgiving, and will work well in a range of different brew methods and still do you proud even if your equipment is less than perfect.
Single origin coffees
You probably already know that different coffees present different flavour profiles. Some are bright and citrusy, others earthy, rich or chocolatey. And while the blend seeks year round consistency with a reliable balance, single origins allow us to explore the exciting and unique areas of coffee.
We might have a coffee that’s got a really amazing strawberry flavour coming through, or one that’s exploding with floral notes and we don’t want to muddy that flavour with something else, but celebrate it. These are the coffees that can change from one harvest to the next, where different processes can leave you with clean, bright fresh flavours, or bold, boozy, fermented ones. It’s a snapshot of something brilliant, that may never be the same again.
Generally speaking, your single origins are best served black as any sort of milk will usually kill the exciting flavours in the coffee. This is also because a lot of them work best with a light or medium roast, making them particularly well suited to filter; French press, Aeropress,pourovers.
The bottom line
Single origin coffees are like your specials board in a restaurant. You have the reliable, tried and tested favourites on the main menu - your espresso blends - but the specials board is where you can explore seasonal ingredients in their prime. Together, they are what make coffee drinking so exciting, interesting and satisfying.