Ever since I started taking my pour over coffee seriously, I’ve only been brewing single-origin beans and it has been interesting to note how taste profiles change across different regions. After the (aborted) blind taste-test experiment on The Wife using four individual single-origin beans, I still had quite a bit left behind from each bag.
It was natural to start wondering what would happen if I mixed different beans to make a blended cup of coffee: “Would the flavours clash and make a bad cup? Would they complement each other and result in an even better cup? How should I blend them to find out?”
To answer the last question, I decided to use equal amounts of each bean and try all possible combinations. But first, I had to figure out if I had enough beans to complete the entire exercise.
I whipped out the trusty combination formula to calculate the total number of unique blends I would get when mixing two, three and four different beans together.
Plugging numbers into the formula, I got a total of 11 different combinations after adding up 4C4, 4C3 and 4C2 and given my daily dose of 25gm, I would need a total of 275gm of beans, or about 69gm of each origin. Since I had close to 100gm remaining in each bag, it was more than sufficient.
Bet you never thought that making coffee would involve the use of factorials!
Yes, yes, I know. I didn’t really need to use the formula given such a small number of sets and objects, but it was the first thing that came to mind and I just ran with it.
The results would be rated using the totally scientific scale of: (i) grinning face with big eyes 😃, (ii) neutral face 😐, (iii) frowning face ☹️ and — for the best of the lot — (iv) star-struck face 🤩. What each means should be fairly self-explanatory, because emoji.
Even though each of the beans were dialed-in previously with different grind settings and brew temperatures, I decided to consistently go with 3-6-0 on my 1Zpresso JX-Pro grinder and 94°C water throughout the exercise.
Houston, we are go for launch.
I was half-expecting that the blend of all four would taste weird and confusing, but it turned out well-balanced, pleasant and kicked things off on a positive note. Like a Nestle fruit-and-nut chocolate bar, but in coffee form.
The three-bean blends turned out to be a bit of a mixed bag (haha, mixed bag) with a strange tasting cup from the Ethiopia + Peru + Costa Rica, but a very nice cup was produced when the Costa Rica was swapped out and replaced with the Guatemala. The remaining two combos were just meh.
Blending two different beans also resulted in a wide range of outcomes, with good tasting cups arising from Ethiopia + Peru and Peru + Guatemala but a bad tasting one from Peru + Costa Rica.
What was the conclusion from this fun exercise? Frankly, looking through all the results, I have no idea. But it was an interesting way to use up the remaining beans from my previous fun exercise.
I was kind of hoping that one of the combinations would produce a 9-point cup of coffee, but alas it didn’t. So, I guess it’s back to brewing single-origin beans and exploring different local roasters.