DIY Specialty Coffee Blends: Creating Your Perfect Cup

Roasted specialty coffee beans

Tired of the same old coffee routine? Explore a world of flavour by creating your own custom specialty coffee blends at home. Imagine a morning cup with the bright berry notes you love, a hint of rich chocolate, and a smooth finish – all tailored to your exact preference. That’s the power of creating your own unique blend of coffee!

Specialty coffee offers the perfect canvas for this kind of flavour exploration. Unlike mass-market coffee, specialty beans are carefully sourced, expertly roasted, and burst with unique flavours. Let’s tale Ethiopian beans that have delicate floral notes and Colombian coffee with a caramel sweetness. By combining these high-quality beans, you gain an incredible new experience with your coffee.

Blending your specialty coffee is not just a delicious cup either. It’s about customisation – no more settling for “good enough” blends. Most importantly, it’s fun! Blending lets you play coffee alchemist, discovering flavour combinations that perfectly suit your palate. 

But before we begin, click here to take a look at our range of coffee. With beans from all over the world, there’s always something worth picking up.

Understanding The Basics

Let’s start by decoding some coffee lingo. This will give you a solid foundation for crafting those perfect blends.

Single-Origin vs. Blends

Single-origin coffee

Single-origin beans come from a specific farm, region, or country. Drinking single-origin is like enjoying the pure, unfiltered expression of a particular coffee’s growing environment. You might taste distinct flavours like blueberry in an Ethiopian coffee or a nutty sweetness in a Brazilian bean. 


Blends are a mix of flavours, as they combine beans from different origins or even different roasts. This allows for incredibly complex and unique coffee. Blends are great for a constantly new flavour experience.

Flavour Profiles

When tasting coffee, the flavours can be hard to pinpoint without exact knowledge of what to look for. Here are some key flavours you might experience:


Citrusy tang (lemon, grapefruit), bright berries (strawberry, raspberry), or rich stone fruits (peach, plum). Many African coffees fall into this category.


Think almonds, hazelnuts, or even a peanut-like richness. Often found in Central and South American beans.


From sweet milk chocolate to deep, dark chocolate notes. Some coffees even have a hint of cocoa.


Delicate and sweet, like jasmine or rose. A hallmark of certain Ethiopian coffees.


Hints of warm spices like cinnamon or clove, sometimes even a pleasant woodiness. Indonesian coffees sometimes have this characteristic.

Here’s a great resource on the coffee flavour wheel for more in-depth exploration.

Roast Levels

Light roast: Emphasises the coffee bean’s natural flavours. Expect more acidity (brightness) and a lighter body.

Medium Roast: The sweet spot for many – balanced acidity, sweetness, and body.

Dark Roast: Here, the roast flavours dominate – think smoky, dark chocolate, and a heavy body.

It’s worth noting that roast levels do not influence caffeine content. Roast only impacts flavour!

How Roast Impacts Blends

Roast level adds another dimension to your blends. Blending a light roast Ethiopian (bright, fruity) with a medium roast Sumatra (earthy, full-bodied) creates a delicious and complex cup!

Your Blending Toolkit

Before you become a coffee blending maestro, you’ll need a few essential tools:

The Equipment You’ll Need

Kitchen scale: Precision is key for great, repeatable blends. A scale lets you measure beans by weight, not just volume. This is vital because different beans have different densities!

Quality burr grinder: A good grinder ensures even grounds, which leads to balanced flavour extraction. Blade grinders aren’t ideal as they produce unevenly sized grounds.

Your favourite brewing method: French press, pour-over, espresso machine – use what you love! Just remember, brewing methods affect flavour, so consistency here is also important when experimenting with blends. 

Ingredients: The Heart of the Blend

High-quality specialty coffee beans: This is non-negotiable! Great blends start with great beans. Using freshly roasted, ethically sourced beans means that you’re supporting good practices and maximising flavour potential. Of course at Howden Coffee, we have an amazing range of delicious beans that are perfect for drinking as it comes, or for blending!

Check out our coffee here.

Optional flavour enhancements: Once you’ve mastered basic blends, consider playing with spices like a pinch of cinnamon, cardamom, or even a touch of vanilla extract.

A Note on Storage

Freshness is vital! Here’s how to protect those precious beans:

Buy whole beans: Ideally, buy whole beans as and when you need them. Whole beans stay fresh for longer as you can grind them just before you use them.

Airtight containers: Keep your beans away from light, heat, and moisture. Don’t put coffee in the fridge – a cupboard at room temperature in an airtight container is perfect.

Fresh forever: Buy smaller quantities more often to ensure you’re always brewing with the freshest beans.

Ready to start blending? Let’s dive into the art of combining those delicious coffees! 

The Art of Blending

Now is where the magic truly happens. Let’s break down the blending process into easy steps:

Start Simple

Two-bean blends are the perfect starting point. It’s easier to determine how each coffee contributes to the overall flavour. Later, you can graduate to three or more beans for further complexity.

Consider Origins

While there are no hard rules, here’s a general framework for good pairings:

South America + Africa: This blend creates a nice and balanced cup. Think Colombian coffee’s sweetness with a fruity Ethiopian.

Central America and Indonesia: Central America’s clean acidity plays beautifully against the earthy richness of Indonesian beans.

As always, these are just suggested starting points. Trust your palate – you may uncover a unique blend you love!

Tasting and Tweaking

This is the part where you’ll develop your blending expertise. 

  1. Brew Samples: Brew a small batch of each bean separately using your preferred method.
  2. Take Notes: Is one bean particularly fruity? Does another bring a chocolatey depth? Jot down your flavour observations.
  3. Combine and Taste: Start with a ratio of 60:40 or 70:30, then taste test. Does it need more brightness? Adjust accordingly.
  4. Record Your Blends: Keep a log of your ratios! This helps you recreate the blends you love and make informed tweaks next time.

Inspiration: Simple Blend Recipes

Mocha Magic: 60% chocolaty Brazilian beans + 40% berry-forward Ethiopian beans 

Balanced Breakfast Blend: 70% Colombian (nutty, sweet) + 30% Kenyan (bright acidity)

Adventurous Afternoon: 50% earthy Sumatra + 50% floral Ethiopian 

Storing Your Creation

You’ve blended the perfect cup. Now, let’s make sure it stays delicious until the last drop! 

Importance of Freshness

Coffee is a delicate ingredient – its flavour is best when as fresh as possible and gradually fades over time. This is due to a process called oxidation. Exposure to oxygen causes those lovely flavour compounds you worked so hard to highlight to break down. Proper storage slows oxidation, but there’s no stopping it entirely.

What About Freezing Coffee?

We wouldn’t recommend freezing coffee. Freezing can prolong bean freshness in a pinch, but there’s a risk of moisture degrading the flavour. Here’s how to minimise the risk if you freeze:

Only freeze unopened bags: Don’t introduce moisture by opening before freezing.

Portion before freezing: Divide into smaller usable amounts to avoid constant thawing and refreezing.

Thaw completely: Before grinding, let frozen beans come fully to room temperature to prevent condensation, brittle beans, or sudden temperature changes.

Pre-Ground Coffee Considerations

Although convenient, ground coffee just isn’t as fresh as grinding whole beans and you also lose control over grind size. If you do buy ground coffee, buy it in smaller amounts and use it up quickly. Additionally, airtight containers are a must for storing pre-ground coffee, as we need to make that freshness last for as long as possible. This will help preserve the flavour and quality of the coffee.

Final Thoughts

Blending your own specialty coffee is an incredibly rewarding journey with lots of fun along the way. You’ve now got the foundation to start crafting exciting new flavour experiences. Remember, start simple with two-bean blends, pay attention to origins, and taste as you go to fine-tune your creations. Most importantly, protect the freshness of your beans with proper storage to ensure every cup is as delicious as you intended.

We’ve learned that specialty coffee offers a rich flavour playground perfect for blending. Understanding the basics of flavour profiles, roast levels, and the importance of bean quality helps you to create blends that are truly your own. 

So, what are you waiting for? Grab your favourite Howden Coffee beans, put your newfound blending knowledge to work, and unleash the barista within! Share your creations on social media and tag us (@howdencoffee) – we’d love to see what you come up with. Happy blending! 

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