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How to Make Your Own Bistro Quality Coffee Blends

Coffee Blends

Making your own bistro quality coffee blends is entirely achievable. All you need to make your own coffee blends at home is a little knowledge and the right tools. Here’s the science of what makes coffee taste so wonderful and helpful tips for grinding, mixing, and properly storing it for a great cup every time.

Start with Fresh Ground Coffee

The three worst enemies attacking your coffee are moisture, ambient air, and oxidation. The minute ground coffee gets exposed to air, oxidation robs it of the complex compounds and oils that create taste and aroma. That’s why barista coffee tastes better. It gets ground right before brewing to preserve freshness. Grinding your own beans is the first step.

Buy Good Coffee Beans

Most coffees derive from just two kinds of coffee beans–arabica or robusta. Some brands combine the two in different ratios to achieve specific flavors. Arabica beans produce a milder, less bitter coffee with fruity or nutty overtones. Robusta coffee beans produce bitter, more acidic coffee.

Coffee flavor is far from uniform. Arabica beans grown in South and Central America taste different from those grown in Africa or Asia. Select a few varieties to start and try different combinations and different grinds. Experimenting will help you discover the flavors you like best.

Look at these factors when buying coffee beans:

  • Variety–arabica or robusta
  • How you plan to brew it
  • Where it’s grown
  • How long the beans were roasting
  • Roasting date
  • Air tight packaging

Dark roasts are stronger but have less caffeine content than lighter roasts. A lighter roast lets the natural flavor notes in the coffee shine through. The longer roasting time for darker roasts burns away those smooth, sweeter, fruity notes.

Here are some popular coffee bean options you can grind and mix to get your own perfect blends.

Royal Kona Whole Bean Coffee, 100% Kona, 7-Ounce Bag

  • Kona coffee is very popular for its full-bodied flavor and aroma. Available in dark, medium-dark, and Vienna roasts. Find Kona coffee options online.

2LB Don Pablo Colombian Supremo - Medium-Dark Roast - Whole Bean Coffee - Low Acidity - 2 Pound (2 lb) Bag

  • Don Pablo Columbian Supremo beans have a rich flavor with notes of citrus. Look for them online or in specialty coffee stores.

Coffee Bros., Light Roast — Whole Bean — 100% Arabica — 1 Bag (12oz) — Ethiopia & Colombia — Gourmet & Specialty

  • Coffee Brothers beans are available on Amazon and in many local specialty coffee suppliers. This brand is available in a range of options, including medium roast, dark roast, light roast, and espresso.

1850 by Folgers Coffee, Pioneer Blend, Medium Roast Whole Bean Coffee, 12 s, 6 Count Pioneer Blend - Medium Roast ,72 Ounce

  • Folgers1850 whole bean coffee is quickly gaining in popularity. Find dark and medium roast options affordably priced online.

 

Get a Grinder

Cuisinart DBM-8 Supreme Grind Automatic Burr Mill

After choosing the beans you like, it’s time to grind and brew. Here are some things you need and need to know about grinding coffee. The first step is to get a decent grinder. Both blade grinders and burr grinders are popular and available at reasonable price points. You’ll want to buy a grinder that works well for coarse, medium, and fine ground coffees.

Coarse grinds are best for French press and percolator coffee. Medium grinds work for drip coffee makers and vacuum siphon coffee brewers. Fine grinds are excellent for espresso and also work well in drip coffee makers.

Creating your own coffee blends

Mixing two or more types of coffee beans isn’t difficult. Think about the coffee you’ve enjoyed most at your local coffee bar or cafe. What blend of beans and grinds will create that flavor? Understanding what you, and the people you love, enjoy most is the right place to begin your experimenting.  Here are some popular blend recipes and some special ideas for holidays and celebrations.

Mocha Coffee

Cafe Mocha–a perfect marriage of life’s best guilty pleasures, coffee, and chocolate. This one is much more than adding chocolate to drip coffee. The best mocha is made with finely ground espresso coffee, but if you don’t want to buy an espresso machine, here’s how to make the next best thing: coarsely grind quality dark roast beans for ‌percolator brewers. This will make dark near-espresso strength coffee that enhances the cocoa for a great tasting cafe mocha. Scroll down to the bottom of the article to see how to make a delicious White Café Mocha with Homemade Whipped Cream.

Black and Tan

Black and tan is one of the most popular coffee blends, with a blend of dark roast’s strong earthy flavors and the subtler and less acidic flavor of medium roast beans. Most often this blend uses South American arabica beans, but you can try beans from different regions in small quantities to find the taste you prefer.

Blending Flavors

Creating your own coffee blends means addressing flavor profile characteristics. Every blend combines a base flavor, mid-range flavor notes, and high flavor notes. The base notes are sweeter, nutty, or caramel flavor overtones. The mid-palate flavor is what you taste with your first sip, and should come from a single grind variety you really like. Floral aromas and high flavor notes come from more acidic, lighter roasts. Find the midrange beans you like and experiment with adding different roasts and varieties. It’s a good idea to track the blend ratios and your results so you can make the blends you love again.

Making Flavored Coffee Blends

Everyone thinks of flavored coffee during the holidays, but what about the rest of the year? Don’t wait for Christmas. It’s easy to make your own tasty flavored coffees for any occasion. They also are the perfect homemade gift for friends and coffee-loving relatives. Here are some tips for making great flavored coffee blends.

Vanilla Bean Coffee

Vanilla is a delicious way to give fresh ground coffee a flavor boost. The simplest way to get a strong vanilla flavor is by adding vanilla beans, pods, or real vanilla extract directly to the beans and store in an airtight container. Then, as always, just grind the amount you need. The flavor permeates the beans and should stay good so long as you store them properly.

Chocolate Coffee

Cocoa nibs, dried and fermented cocoa bean bits are good in a surprising number of ways to add antioxidants and a subtle mocha flavor to foods. For coffee, just add a couple of teaspoons of cocoa nibs to each cup of coffee beans you grind and then brew. Try adding a couple of drops of peppermint oil extract to the cocoa coffee after brewing. It’s a great, delicious peppermint mocha without all the sugar found in flavored holiday creamers.

Cinnamon Coffee 

Cinnamon is a wonderful way to add festive flavors to coffee. Loaded with antioxidants and flavor, adding it is easy. There are two methods. Flavor the beans directly by adding a couple of cinnamon sticks to coffee beans in an airtight container. The cinnamon will infuse the beans with its flavor. The second method is even easier: put cinnamon sticks in your pot while the coffee brews. The hot coffee absorbs the flavor as the sweet cinnamon aroma fills the room. Check out the Pumpkin Spice Irish Coffee recipe below.

Now you know that great coffee at home is possible, it’s time to get creative. Mix and match the roasts, grinds, and flavors you like to make your own coffee blends right at home. Your friends may wonder if you hired a private barista next time they taste your coffee.

Pumpkin Spice Irish Coffee Recipe

Pumpkin Spice Irish Coffee

Pumpkin Spice Irish Coffee

Pumpkin Spice Irish Coffee

Prep Time 11 mins
Course Drinks
Servings 4

Ingredients
  

  • 1 pint heavy whipping cream
  • 2 T. real maple syrup
  • 3 T. cinnamon
  • 1 T. ground ginger
  • 1 T. ground nutmeg
  • 2 t. ground allspice
  • 2 t. ground cloves
  • 1 T. pumpkin pie spice
  • 16 oz. freshly brewed hot coffee
  • 8 oz. Irish Crème
  • additional pumpkin pie spice for garnish

Instructions
 

  • In a large bowl, blend 1 pint of heavy whipping cream with a hand mixer or immersion blender until it doubles in size and changes texture. Then, drizzle maple syrup into the bowl and continue blending until the mixture is light and fluffy. Set aside.
  • Combine the pumpkin pie spice ingredients in a medium bowl and stir to combine. Set aside.
  • Before brewing, sprinkle fresh coffee grounds with one tablespoon pumpkin pie spice and gently shake to evenly combine the mixture. Brew spiced coffee grounds as usual.
  • Pour 2 oz. Irish Cream into each cup and top with 4 oz. of freshly brewed coffee. Top with whipped cream and sprinkle with additional pumpkin pie spice before serving. Enjoy!

White Cafe Mocha Recipe

White Cafe Mocha

White Cafe Mocha

White Café Mocha with Homemade Whipped Cream

Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 5 mins
Servings 2

Ingredients
  

  • ¾ c. heavy whipping cream
  • 3 T. powdered sugar
  • 1 t. real vanilla extract
  • 2 c. whole milk
  • ½ c. Ghirardelli white chocolate baking chips
  • ½ T. coconut oil
  • 2 c. freshly brewed strong black coffee
  • Optional: Sprinkles for garnish

Instructions
 

  • To prepare the whipped cream, pour the heavy whipping cream into a large bowl and mix until it becomes partially solid. Add the vanilla extract, and then the powdered sugar, and continue mixing until light and fluffy. Cover and place in the refrigerator until ready to use.
  • Pour the milk into a saucepan set over medium-low heat. Simmer, stirring continually to prevent scorching, until heated through, approximately 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
  • Pour white chocolate chips into a medium microwave-safe bowl and heat in 20 second intervals, stirring between each one, until melted. Add the coconut oil and stir to combine.
  • Transfer the warm milk into the bowl with the white chocolate sauce and stir to combine. Set aside.
  • Pour the hot coffee into 16-oz. mugs and top each one off with the white chocolate milk mixture.
  • Remove the whipped cream from the refrigerator and add a big dollop to each mug or spoon into an icing bag fitted with a decorative tip to create an attractive swirl. Add sprinkles, if using, and serve immediately. Enjoy!

Notes

Tip: The addition of a little fat, such as melted butter or coconut oil, to the melted chocolate chips helps prevent clumping if the chocolate cools.

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