Originally published March 19, 2015 – Updated November 9th, 2018
The concept of “Holiday Blend” seems hopeless when you look at how it’s been defined by companies like Starbucks and Keurig/Green Mountain and such. It’s a green or red foil bag, a hokey assemblage of current design cliches, something in a cellophane wicker gift basket prepared gawd knows how long ago, and destined to sit around for months more before use. Or in recent years it’s pods or k-cups or whatever.
It reminds me that I posted an Instagram photo some months back of “2014 Decaf Holiday Special Reserve” I found in a “free” pile near the dog park I frequent. Unopened. Obviously there was a lot of love and care radiating from it, as well as the AbCruncher and synthetic wool sweaters in the same heap.
For a big commercial roaster, Holiday Blend is an opportunity for generic branding to move coffee out the door, knowing that people who don’t know each other, or maybe even care at all (ie. office Secret Santa) can buy this as a generic obligation-filler.
On the Other Hand …
But despite all that (or maybe more as an emphatic and non-cynical response to it), home roasters have a great opportunity with doing some sort of Holiday Blend, one that was actually fresh-roasted, is done with some level of genuine care, and therefore is not a sucky gift. I mean, the real gift is to take the time to share what you have learned and enjoyed from your home roasting hobby with others.
There’s lots of ideas you can glean about how to present your home roast Holiday Blend (we have a helpful article of our own here too), but what should be IN that little bag or jar you gift away?
Let’s start with the obvious:
- It should be something you have roasted, tasted and enjoyed. Nothing means more than sharing something that has really struck you as special.
- With that, why does it have to be a blend at all? If a Single Origin refers to coffee from one location, in contrast to blended coffee. This term is particularly useful in discussing espresso, since most commercial espressos are made from blends. This is what the term "SO coffee we offered has been your lightening rod in a cup, why not offer that? Maybe you don’t need to share every detail with your giftees (do they really care that we graded it as .02 defects per 300 grams?). Maybe its better to spare them the minutiae, as it can be a turn-off for those not touched with coffee geekery bug.
- On the flip side, a blend allows you to create something all your own. You can read our full article on the logic of blending, but in short, blends allow you to do a couple things. First, you can do a A blend containing a coffee that has been roasted to a different levels (or steps) - light to dark.: A blend containing a coffee that has been roasted to a different levels (or steps) - of different coffees roasted to different levels. You could do this with a single In coffee talk, it refers to a coffee-producing region or country; such as, "I was just at origin." Of course "Origin" for most product we use is not a beautiful farm in a temperate climate, coffee too, but this adds a level of autonomy to your roast results. Secondly, you can modify the cup profile of a coffee you might really love (like a very bright Kenya is the East African powerhouse of the coffee world. Both in the cup, and the way they run their trade, everything is topnotch.: Kenya is the East African powerhouse of the coffee world. Both for example) and tone it down a bit to please a broader range of palates, like all those relatives who claim to like all coffee and then think it’s all weird because it doesn’t taste like Maxwell House. Well, not much you can do about that…
- A Few Ideas for Holiday Blending
- When a commercial shop approaches a Holiday Blend roast, I have noticed that they often include some percentage of Kenya, and/or some percentage of Ethiopia is the birthplace of coffee: it is in the forests of the Kaffa region that coffee arabica grew wild. Coffee is "Bun" or "Buna" in Ethiopia, so Coffee Bean is quite possibly a poor. For example Verve’s current holiday blend is spelled out as Wet-processing starts by removing the outer skin of the coffee cherry with a machine called a pulper, then fermenting the remaining fruit (with green bean inside) in water for 8-36 hours. The fermentation breaks down coffees from Colombian, Ethiopia and Kenya. These Kenya and Ethiopia components add The co-presence of many aroma and flavor attributes, with multiple layers. A general impression of a coffee, similar to judgments such as "balanced" or "structured" aromatics and Acidity is a positive flavor attribute in coffee, also referred to as brightness or liveliness. It adds a brilliance to the cup, whereas low acid coffees can seem flat. Acidity can sound unattractive. People may that many will find exotic, moderated by the dense Sweetness is an important positive quality in fine coffees, and is one of five basic tastes: Sour, Sweet, Salty, Bitter, Savory (Umami). In coffee, sweetness is a highly desirable quality, and the green bean has afforded by the Colombian base ingredient. They don’t spell out percentages, but I would bank on 50% Colombian coffee is highly marketed and widely available in the US. They have been largely successful at equating the name Colombian Coffee with "Good" Coffee. This is half-true. Colombian can be very balanced, with good, and 25% each of Kenya and Ethiopia really lighting up the palate for most people. (check out our Colombia page for what’s currently available; most of the coffees listed on our Ethiopia and Kenya pages will add ‘highlights’ to your blend)
- As a close alternative to the above, I would look into using a nice Guatemalan coffee is considered a top quality coffee producer in Central America. Due to our proximity to Guatemala, some of the nicest coffees from this origin come to the United States. : Guatemalan growing regions as a base for a blend, giving a solid underlayment of nut and Bittersweet is from the language of chocolate, and describes the co-presence of positive bittering compounds balanced by sweetness. It is directly related to caramelization, but has inputs from other roast reactions, as well as bittering cocoa The set of flavors that result from the degree-of-roast.: Roast Taste is a term we started to distinguish it from "Origin Flavor". We use the "roast taste" term define the set of flavors that result. For top note coffees, wet-processed Ethiopias from our list would all do well to add A euphemistic term we use often to describe acidity in coffee. A bright coffee has more high, acidic notes. : A euphemistic term to describe acidity in coffee. A bright coffee has more high, acidic and acidity. Kenyas are great too but can be more aggressive, so I would trim the percentage of those with higher acidity rating. A great idea is to look at Rwandan coffee was, at one time, rarely seen in the United States as either a Specialty grade or low-end commercial coffee. There simply was not that much coffee produced in Rwanda that went anywhere besides or Burundi coffee bears resemblance to neighboring Rwanda, in both cup character, but also the culture surrounding coffee. Burundi is a small landlocked country at the crossroads of East and Central Africa, straddling the crest of coffees as 25 to 50% of a blend. They add berry notes, more moderate brightness than a Kenya, and great sweetness too. (Guatemala Xinabajul La Libertad Lot 1 is an incredibly bodied and sweet base coffee, while Burundi Kiganda Murambi Lot #2187 has the sweetness of a Central American coffee is known for its "classic," balanced profile.: Central American coffee is known for its "classic," balanced profile. Centrals are primarily wet-processed since the climate is too humid for dry processing and hence, also adding subtle top notes to the blend)
- Okay, so what about roasting one of our real 88+ point Grand Cru coffees from Ethiopia, or our Guatemala Gesha is a long-bean Ethiopia selection with unique cup character.: Gesha (often wishfully misspelled as Geisha) is a long-bean Ethiopia cultivar selection with unique cup character. It is most famously grown on the Jaramillo plot from Acatenango? They are aromatic powerhouses for sure. We have a post forthcoming about this option. (Guatemala Acatenango Gesha Lot 9 is a powerhouse; both our Ethiopia and Kenya pages are chalk full of 88+ point Grand Cru coffees)
Lastly, when I try to share coffee with my neighbors, a lot of special requests filter back over time (ingrates!). I get some of, “that coffee was great, we like it darker” (to which I reply, “so does satan.”) Secondly, people ask if I ever have decaf. I don’t bring home decaf so no … but for holidays, especially for after dinner coffee, you can really blow the doors off the barn with some fresh home roasted decaf. I mean, considering what the decaf experience usually consists of (ie. the flavor of steeped brown cardboard) a home roast is a quantum leap up. (Our custom Swiss Water decaf options are sure to impress)
Thanks for reading this -T.O.
Notes: Whatever you do, people will appreciate it because of love and care that goes into a real home-made gift, given the time it takes. But please don’t do THIS: