In the world of specialty coffee there’s a large amount of importance placed on the idea of sourcing beans from a single origin. As a die-hard early adopter of this blog you probably recall in my first article I mentioned the push to treat coffee as a specialty beverage like beer and wine. Well much like how wine drinkers favour wine made of grapes from particular growing regions so to do coffee producers and certain coffee consumers. I personally can’t tell the difference and prefer to make all of my purchasing decisions based on what labels look the coolest and am hoping by using the phrase “so to do” I’ve tricked you into thinking I am very smart. People who purchase green beans can also be motivated by a desire to know exactly who they’re supporting as the coffee supply chain does face several issues of ethical sourcing and difficult traceability but those are really serious issues I would’ve struggled to follow up with a joke.
At Java Blend we aim to source several single-origin coffee’s as part of our regular menu and for our rotational featured roasts. But coffee blends are and always have been an important part of our menu. And that’s because they’re great! Roasters and cafes will blend beans of different origins or roast levels to create new flavour profiles. This lets them create signature blends or maintain a profile while certain single origin coffees are unavailable. We love a blend: it’s even in our name. I mean it’s not like we’re called (I hate this joke I hate that I thought of it and I hate that I’m about to type it out) Java Single Origin.
But what goes into a blend? Well that’s what I’m here to tell you about today! We have a new fall lineup of featured single origins launching next month but first I want to take this time to walk you through some of our most popular blends. I’m going to tell you what they’re all about and give you the inside scoop on the beans that make them up.
The Mocha Blend has been called many different things in our 80 year history. The Moca Blend, Mocha House Blend, Mocha Java, The Java Blend etc. It’s actually kind of fitting because the exact blend of beans is fairly rotational. The Mocha Blend is designed to have the smooth, nutty flavour profile of your standard medium roast while staying at an affordable price point. The sort of thing you’d enjoy at a sit-down breakfast restaurant. Fun fact: the first piece of copy I ever wrote for Java Blend was a coffee tasting notes sheet where I described the Mocha Blend as “Right On, Nice, Just Gets It.” I stand by that.
One of our two signature espresso roasts; the 38 espresso is named for the year Java Blend was launched which is A) very cute and B) a reminder of the immovable path of time’s arrow as it marches ever forward. The 38 is roasted in the style of traditional central Italian espresso which makes it a little darker than our K2 espresso. The 38 is a blend of three of our Fair Trade Organic coffees: Guatemalan Huehuetenango, Ethiopian Yirgacheffe and Sumatra Gayo which lend it sweet notes of caramel and hazelnut.
Unlike the rest of our blends, which tend to be mixed before roasting, the Fog City is a mix of coffees at two different roast levels. To be specific it’s a mix of our Colombian and Aztec. To be even more specific it’s a mix of two parts Colombian and one part Aztec. I know because every single day I have flashbacks to Sunday cafe shifts spent frantically scooping and mixing up a fresh batch because we just didn’t have enough to get through the weekend. I sometimes wake up in a cold sweat only to find I’ve been sleep scooping again. When will it end?
Which is all to say the Fog City is a harmonious mix of medium and dark coffee flavours emulating the slight intensity of the Full City roast level and making a delicious cup of drip or espresso.
I’m drinking this right now. Not just now as I’m typing these words but right now as you are reading them. Even if you’re reading this article twenty five years from now when it’s preserved in the National Archives of Canada I’ll be drinking a cup of the Aztec blend. Served as our in-house dark roast the Aztec is a mix of organic Peruvian and Honduras. Look I love dark roasts and I could spend a few paragraphs talking about that love but we’ve got a bit more ground to cover here so just know that with its rich, smoky, bittersweet chocolate notes the Aztec is one of my most favourite coffees that we offer.
Remember how like ten seconds in the last section I said I could spend a few paragraphs talking about dark roasts? Well I’m going to prove it to you because we are not done with our tour of the dark roast region of flavour country. The Northender is a blend of our organic Guatemala and Sumatra roasted to a level just under our darkest offering: The French Roast. One reason darker roasts are talked about in hushed tones is that the deeper roast profile moves the flavour of the beans further from what makes them unique and closer to a more uniform profile. But the Northender combines the smoky, oakier notes of our Sumatran with the body of our Guatemalan to create a funky cup that my co-worker Brett refers to as “surprisingly juicy.” This is a really unique dark roast that is greater than the sum of its already interesting parts much like the Halifax Northend that Java Blend calls home. Poetry.
Alright we did it! We (I’m so sorry) put the “Blend” in “Java Blend.” I do find I’ve encountered people who are either single-origin purists or worry that a blended coffee implies lower quality. And to those people and to you dear reader I’d just like to say: don’t be afraid and taste anything and everything. You might surprise yourself with what you find. And if you’re feeling really adventurous you can try most of these coffees in our Northender Bundle. I dare you.