Friday, June 09, 2006

blending in by blending

i have had impure thoughts lately. meaning, today i actually considered diluting the single-origin purity of one of my coffees by, gasp, blending it with another. here's the story.

you see, it's easy to consider oneself a "purist" when the reality is one just simply may not adept at creating complex cool blends. now, this may or may not actually be true of your humble blogger; you'll never know and i'll never tell.

actually, i have been holding closely to the sage words...someone...was saying once about new roasters being stuck years later with their embarrassingly elementary house blend because they succumbed to the perceived pressure to put out a "house blend"...something that carried their name and their signature taste. so i don't blend. i just don't know enough about coffee to do so. maybe.

or maybe not.

so as i was speaking about in one of my recent posts, i have been working toward a decent espresso for a prospective client. as anyone out there who roasts knows, this can be a massive, painstaking and very time-consuming process. like, months time-consuming. (and here i'm trying in several minutes to come up with some foundational espresso blends to show to someone! the verve.)

anyways, all that mixing and matching for espresso got me thinking--again in a couple minutes' time--that i might just try to pull something together that could be interesting. something intentional but not scripted. infieldly logical but yet still a little edgy, a touch compelling, a slight bit novel. emphasis on the diminutive adjectives, there.

now, usually my "blends" consist of tossing in whatever doesn't get cupped out at the table today to have the next morning: two, three, four coffees with nothing in common and very little in harmony--let alone in symphony. my ever-loving family. if they only knew the blending imposter i am. they drink it and smile, mostly because they're half asleep when i shove the cup into their hands. God bless 'em. they just keep encouraging me.

okay, so back to the science of blending. i always hear folks talk about coffee blends like they (the blends) are some sort of cuisine: "a dash of this, a shot of that, a little pinch of the other for good measure. now stir it all around in the pot and voila! now you're cookin' with grease!" (as the old southern saying goes). if i were going to make a blend it was going to be simple stupid--two beans, fifty-fifty. that's all the smarts i have.

so what did i have in my current lineup that could be interesting? well, my little bit of smarts i do have said i'd better start with what i had already roasted the previous day that didn't get used up in the "espresso blends." here's what i had:

guatemala fraijanes

sumatra mandheling

a washed indian robusta

costa rica tarrazu

brazil cerrado

ethiopia harar

(no, i didn't combine all of those, or even think of combining all of them, for an espresso blend! shame on you for thinking so.) i first thought of using the guat as a base, since i so thoroughly enjoyed it in my cupping yesterday. but i became a bit afraid that any central/south american component i used might suffer the same fate i keep (seemingly) willing it to--to lose itself in its own perfection and become obfuscated in a blend. if i'm going to blend something i don't want one of the blended components to be inveigled by the other. otherwise, what's the point? that'd be almost like relegating one of the components to the role of the blarg they put at the very butt of the cigarette...even worse than the "good" blarg used in the rest of the cigarette. and if the blend was going to be a fifty-fifty split i'd better select something with a little more uhmph.

uhmph? well, using that descriptor meant i was going to have to use only two on that list.

can you guess which two? be continued...


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