Single Origin or Blend. The Choice is Yours.

Coffee is an amazing beverage. Today, there are so many ways to drink it, it seems you could go a month and never have the same coffee “concoction” twice. For me, a cup of hot, black coffee has become my preference. For others, it may need milk, flavor, sugar, ice, honey, or whatever it is that makes it “your” coffee. However you drink it, you should enjoy it. One of the questions I often get from people is “what is the difference between a blend and a single origin coffee?”. I’ll try to help you out with that.

A coffee blend, typically something you see at your local Starbucks, Second Cup, and dare I say it, Tim Hortons, is a blend of coffees from around the world that are put together in an effort to create something good out of coffees that have a variety of characteristics. You can typically tell if a coffee is a blend by the name. Blends tend to have exotic or fun names that in no way tell you anything about the countries of the coffees that are in them. Blends are often made to try to take some characteristics of each of the coffees in the blend-citrus, chocolate, earthy, nutty, or whatever-and create a flavor profile that people will enjoy.

Blending can also be used to help reduce the overall cost of the coffee itself. Robusta is a coffee that is typically less expensive to buy and has a higher caffeine content. Your local gas station or side of the road coffee stop likely has a blend that they serve which contains robusta. This is primarily a cost saving measure. That gas station blend likely doesn’t have much high quality coffee in it anyway, so I guess the extra caffeine is where the bonus comes in. Tim Hortons may be the best example of a large corporation using a blend to create their “one and only” coffee. I don’t know if they use robusta, likely not, but they do use coffees from a variety of countries to create their “coffee.” It’s also roasted “specially” for them to create that consistent cup of coffee that many people enjoy. (Sorry, I don’t fit into that category. But that’s another story.) Starbucks is famous for having a wide variety of blends of coffees each with their own exotic and fancy name. They do seem to be moving more and more toward single origin offerings, but their blends are certainly the most economical way for them to overcharge the consumer for the drinks they serve in their stores.

Single origin coffee is where I focus as a roaster. By sticking with single origin, each of my coffees maintains its unique characteristics and flavors for my customers to enjoy. The best example of this is the wide variety of coffee that is available for me to purchase green from my supplier in Calgary, Single Origin Coffee. (Great name,eh!) Carlos (yes, he is from Colombia) is the owner, and his newest business partner, Jeff, do a great job of bringing in high quality single origin coffees from around the world. Of course, with Carlos’ background and connections in Colombia, it only makes sense that his largest volume of coffee is from there. I have had the pleasure of trying 5 of the coffees he has brought in from Colombia, and each has been fantastic. And each, being a single origin, has its own unique flavor profile. Right now, I have two different Colombian coffees to offer. One is called Campo Alegre. It is a regional coffee that is grown at a lower altitude which gives it a more full bodied, heavier mouthfeel (that’s coffee talk) than the other coffee I have with is from the Santander region. This is a higher altitude coffee which is a much cleaner, brighter, and higher acidic coffee (more coffee talk) than the Alegre. Both are fantastic coffees, as have all the coffees from Colombia that I have been able to try. The great thing about them being single origins, is that you get to enjoy two very different coffees from the same country, without losing their unique characteristics from being in a blend.

Sometimes though, you do need to step out of the box and try something new. I do carry a couple of blends that you can order. They are both darker roasts and evolved more out of customer requests than a true desire to blend coffee. My Dark Side Blend (if you know me, it’s a Star Wars reference) and my Espresso Blend are two blends that you can order off my regular list of available coffees. I have also created some custom blends for local coffee stops– Station Coffee Co and Inspire Cafe. These are unique to them so you’ll have to go visit if you want to try them. At Station, you will enjoy my Train Wreck, as well as Dark Side, available there as brewed coffees. At Inspire, the medium and dark roast blends are available as French Press coffees. I have also created some custom blends for people for special occasions which is one of the great things about what I do.

So, hopefully that helps clear up some confusion. If you look at my list of offerings, you’ll see that I carry over 12 different single origin coffees from around the world. Single orign will continue to be my focus, but I certainly won’t limit it to just that. Sometimes you just need to be a little adventurous and try something new. Like blending.

Ten years and counting

10 years ago Bean There Roasting Company opened to provide people with fresh roasted coffee, delivered to their door. It’s been quite a journey. From the early beginnings experimenting with a popcorn popper, to the first larger batch roaster and now to the shop roaster that roasts 3.5 lbs per batch. The world of coffee is always changing and evolving and it has been incredibly fun to be a part of it.

From the first conversation about coffee as a business while visiting Nairobi, Kenya with my friends, to a year of researching and learning about green coffee and how to roast it, home renovations, permit applications, finding suppliers. It was a busy time. As with any business, the goal is to make enough to keep the business strong and growing. However, after traveling to Zambia and Kenya to meet new friends, the other goal was to help provide support to those friends in their ministry work in those countries. So far, we have been successful in that we can provide monthly support to our friends as well as additional one time gifts at Christmas and for special occasions.

Over the past 10 years, I’ve had a chance to learn a lot about coffee. And the world of coffee has changed much in those 10 years. The science of coffee has given us a much clearer picture of how the black brew can affect the producer and consumer, and it’s that science that has been exciting to see and learn about. My library of coffee books continues to grow with some of them not just fun reads, but highly educational materials to enjoy. One of the first things I learned about coffee is that “fresh” seems to have a multitude of meanings for anyone who makes it. Fresh for me is not based on what time the coffee was brewed and served. I’m talking about knowing exactly when it was roasted so that the customer gets the freshest coffee possible.  One of the great things about having a home based business that deals in coffee is that I know I will always have the freshest coffee possible to drink. Whether it’s brewed, french press, pour over, aeropress, or shots of espresso, it will be great to enjoy.

As with any business, your success is directly linked to your customers. My goal has always been to provide the best possible service alongside the freshest coffee you can buy. The delivery side of the business definitely sets us apart from anyone else, and is the key to the service side of what we do. Thankfully, the business has grown each year and I hope to be able to continue to provide exceptional service alongside exceptional coffee. My customers are obviously a key part of what I do. One of the things I’ve discovered over the past 10 years is that with any business, your relationship with your customers is key. I have met many people during my time roasting coffee. I’ve had customers come and go, some have moved away but still order from me when they visit or have me ship it to them. I’ve seen countless new additions to families. (New babies and increased coffee consumption seem to go hand in hand) And sadly, I’ve seen customers pass away as well. The one thing that stands out is the relationships. Getting to know my customers and being able to talk with them like friends has been the greatest reward I’ve gotten out of my time in this business.

It’s been a great 10 years. Building relationships with people around coffee just seems right. So I’m looking forward to meeting new customers, getting to know them, and providing them with fresh roasted coffee for years to come.

Bean There Roasting – a new adventure begins

One of the ideas I have tossed around for quite some time was blogging. However, I was never sure how it would look for the business. Thankfully my wife began blogging, and found me the Blogging 101 course to get started. So here it goes.

My name is Brian and I am the owner of Bean There Roasting, a small home based custom coffee roasting and delivery business. Basically what I do is roast coffee fresh to order for my customers, then deliver it to their door. Just like your morning newspaper. Just not so early and with a larger caffeine content.

Why blog? One of the main reasons will be to help promote my business. We are approaching our 10th anniversary (tomorrow) and it was time to do it. Another key reason is there is so much information and reading on coffee these days that it’s hard to narrow it down. I’m going to use the blog to help provide relevant coffee reads to help people know and understand their morning brew better. Blogs also help provide a forum to ask questions and have good discussions about just about anything. In this case, mostly coffee. Although, being from a small city, I’m also known as a dad, and a husband, a basketball referee, and other titles. Not just ‘the coffee guy.’ So you might see something from those aspects of life as well. But mostly coffee. I’m hoping to incorporate pictures and maybe some video as well. My teenage kids will be valuable assets for those technological aspects.

I’m looking forward to this course to spur me on to making this blog happen and to learn how to better utilize my blog to promote the business. So far, seems to be going well. But I might need another coffee before I start our anniversary and history blog to send out tomorrow.

Brian