Blends

About our blends
Sweet Maria's offers a few pre-blended coffees for use as espresso and dark roast. There are pros and cons to blending. We feel strongly that good coffee does not need to be blended; we want to discover the "origin taste" in the cup, the singular essence of the place the coffee is from. This is lost in blending. However, there are reasons to blend. Here are some excerpts from our Blending Article.

Our blends are made with our best coffees. We don't treat blends as a way to get rid of older coffees or ones we need to clear out! In many cases, our blend components are sourced just for the blend, based on test roasts and cupping. They are all comprised of coffees on our green coffee offering list.

Sweet Maria's Moka Kadir Blend
$7.75
$14.73
$33.71
$64.33
$122.35
Sweet Maria's Moka Kadir Blend
Arrival date
Appearance1d/300gr, 15 to 18 scr
GradeTop grades
ProcessingDry Process (Natural)
RegionYemen, Sidama, Yirga Cheffe
Varietal(s)Heirloom Varietals
Intensity/Prime attributeBold Intensity / Fruity, earthy, rustic sweetness, chocolate layers
RoastCity+ roasts will produce the most fruited profile; Full City and beyond will tone down brightness and underscore chocolate roast tastes. Darker roast levels make a great espresso!

This is a powerful blend of coffees from the Arabian Peninsula and Horn of Africa, from Yemen on one side, and Ethiopia on the other. I intended this blend for the exotic espresso shot or intense filter drip coffee. It's even better in a French Press, where the slightly gritty intensity suits to boldness of fruit, chocolate, exotic spice and earth notes. The base of this coffee is made up of two excellent natural Dry-Processed coffees from Ethiopia and Yemen. Each contributes to a huge body, strong bittersweet chocolate roast-taste, and intense fruited aromatics. This year we decided to try a small amount of a washed Shakiso in the blend as well, and had great results. It adds an ever so slight floral flavor as well as builds on the already intense sweetness found in the cup. Since it is a blend of dry and washed processes, this pre-roast blend should probably be taken to the outer edge of City+ where roast level begins to even out. My favorite roasts were Full City and Full City+ as both brewed coffee and espresso. All that said, the basic blend idea here is to use coffees from the same "family of taste" rather than greatly opposite or complimentary coffees, marking a difference in blend rationale, as well as in result. Also, I feel these coffees need to be pre-blended to equalize moisture content with each other, something that works well in larger batches.

The dry fragrance has a strong rustic sweetness that's like Rapidura sugar at both light and dark roasts. It would be impossible to talk about this coffee without mentioning the intensely fruited aromatics. Dried apricot and peach, red berries, spiced apple, and ...the list is long, and the most complex at lighter roast levels, with slight florals compliments of the 2 Ethiopian coffees. At Full City+ there's pungent chocolate, charred sage, and a nice, sweet smell peanut sauce. Adding hot water brings about burned sugar, especially in our light roast, as well as malted chocolate, ripe fig, and berry pie filling. The cup is the culmination of all the intense aromatics, and more. Dense, thick body adds to the sense of "brooding" cup character here. Full City roasts produce a tarry dark molasses sweetness, thick inky body, and a smokiness in the finish that reminds me of chicory root. Moka Kadir has an "oily-ness" to it that coats the mouth, leaving behind a long finish dominated by fruit nectar and bitter-sweet chocolate. Moka Kadir is a true dual-use bland - filter drip as well as espresso. The latter will produce such creamy shots packed full of layered chocolate and fruit flavors. It's definitely on the wilder side of what we tend to think of as "classic" espresso profile, and is so sweet and complex.

Moka Kadir cups best after at least 48 hours ... we like to wait even 3+ days. Also consider that because the majority of the blend is dry processed, hand sorted coffees, it is not unusual for the roasted coffee to vary in color - some slightly lighter beans, some darker, and with a range of expansion. And I hate to say it but we find the occasional small rock in this coffee. Be sure to cull through the green and the roasted carefully. The small bean size of Yemeni and other coffees here can be problem in some drum roasters, such as Behmors with the large grid drum (oldest models - all the new ones have small grid drums). But, with the coffee in the drum, you can shake the drum before roasting to remove the few super small beans than might be lurking in the mix.

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Sweet Maria's Liquid Amber Espresso Blend
$6.50
$12.35
$28.28
$53.95
$103.10
SM Liquid Amber ...a potent espresso blend
Arrival dateAll current crop
Appearance0 d/300gr, 17-19 Screen
GradeAll top grades
ProcessingVarious Process
RegionVaries
Varietal(s)
Intensity/Prime attributeBold / Pungency, Power, Aftertaste
Roast I advocate a Northern Italian style roast (really a Vienna roast, stopped 30-45 seconds into 2nd crack), but the blend works very well at the darker Southern Italian style roast (a full French roast actually, at the peak of a rapid 2nd crack). Either way, get this into 2nd crack and allow proper resting that espresso demands: 48+ hours is best. This blend works great in air and drum roast machines and I developed it testing-roasting on both. If you notice a tingly "baking soda effect" in your mouth, then the coffee could use more rest.

I wanted an espresso blend that was potent, sharp, intense; but without excessive mustiness, fruitiness, or earthy flavors. But I wanted it also to be complex and hint at all of those tastes, and more! Here's the product of a lot of overly-caffeinated days of experimentation: the Liquid Amber Espresso Blend. It is named for the rich color and multitude of crema it produces. The blend was fairly complex to come up with ... after I found the general tastes I wanted, emerging from aroma and first sip through the very long aftertaste (if I don't cleanse my palate with water I will taste this coffee for 20+ minutes) I needed to play with the exact percentages. The specific blend, hey ... it is my secret! But I will tell you that the 5 coffees that really worked toward the flavor goal I imagined ended up surprising even me! I will say that there are Dry-processed, Wet-processed, and Monsooned coffees in here. I will also admit that there is a modicum of quality Robusta. And to keep this a mystery, the blend contains some coffees not on our list. Extracted in a properly functioning, clean espresso machine the blend produces a lot of crema, making the mouthfeel very thick and creamy. The sharp pungent bite to the blend is not bitter, and fades into a rich tobaccoy-milk chocolate aftertaste. If properly roasted (not scorched) the blend will not be ashy, something I really don't like in espresso. (With any espresso, if the aftertaste turns acrid and bitter after 3 minutes or so, clean the heck out of your machine.) In the Liquid Amber Blend there are hints of fruit, mushrooms, sweet smoke, caramel, and cream in the extended aftertaste. This blend works extremely well in milk drinks, meaning by that a true cappuccino (6-9 oz.) or machiatto. I make no claims for Latte ... is there any coffee that tastes potent mixed down 8:1 in a Slurpee-sized cup of milk? Please note: in 2005 I changed the type of Monsooned coffee. It is paler, sweeter, and is not a coffee we offer on our list. It's a special purchase for the blend to increase sweetness and reduce mustiness. -Tom

Liquid Amber Note:If the coffee arrives and doesn't appear evenly blended, this is because of the vibration during loading and shipment. I can positively guarantee you that the blend was packed in the exact, correct proportion (we are extremely careful about this), but the difference in size/density of the Monsooned/non-Monsooned can make them separate a bit with vibration. Just give it a stir....

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Sweet Maria's Espresso Monkey Blend
$6.25
$11.88
$27.19
$51.88
$99.25
The Monkey
Arrival dateAll current-new crop
Appearance15-18 screen
GradeTop Grades
ProcessingVarious Process
RegionVarious
Varietal(s)
Intensity/Prime attributeMedium / Balance, complexity, fruit
RoastI prefer Northern Italian style re: Illy's Normale blend. I like this blend best when the roast is stopped just as second crack becomes rapid, and shows no sign of slowing down. Actually, I like it a lot lighter than that too! I don't like this roasted to a dark, dark roast stage, Full French or Italian. This is because Brazilian coffees become ashy and began to bitter when roasted extremely dark. I believe strongly in a 36+ hour resting period before use for espresso extraction! It wont kill you to use it sooner... but you might notice sharp unpleasant notes.

A longtime favorite espresso blend intended solely for pump and piston type espresso extraction. This is a sweet but punchy little cup, and roasted fairly light it is a shock to the palette, but has great body and a smooth, sweet, stunning aftertaste. The joke behind the name: I imagine a fancy roaster charming a client in the cupping room, effusing about their "Master Roaster" and "Master Blender" and "Master Cupper", all in the trade for decades of course. Then I imagine the scene in their warehouse where hired apes rip open bags of green coffee and randomly hurl handfulls into the hopper for roasting. In other words, there's a lot of BS in the coffee trade, and blending is NOT really a noble art ...it's done to save cost and disguise coffee defects 80% of the time.
The Irony? I have never worked so hard to develop a blend as this one, designed to cup well at a full range of "espresso" roasts, and developed as a pre-blend (all coffees roasted together to same degree of roast). Am I going to tell you exactly what is in it? No! I am feeling a bit snobby today! Espresso Monkey has become our signature blend for some reason or other, perhaps because it is a true standard that we have sought to maintain for so long, and that we put such nice coffees into it.

We blend this for body, balanced between high and low tones, chocolate roast flavors, and slightly rustic fruited accent notes. Those are our goals, that is the "spirit" behind the blend, and we check it to make sure it meets those targets. Our roast goal is in the beginning stages of 2nd crack ... we never "let it roll".

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Sweet Maria's French Roast Blend
$6.75
$12.83
$29.36
$56.03
$106.95
SM French roast blend
Arrival dateAll current-new crop
Appearance16 to 18 screen
GradeTop grades
ProcessingVarious Process
RegionVarious
Varietal(s)Varietal Blend
Intensity/Prime attributeMedium to Bold / Balance, Body
RoastI like this blend best roasted to the point where 2nd crack slows, but has not yet ended. Roast to the absolute end of 2nd crack, and you might as well be drinking roasted radish. I believe strongly in a 24 hour resting period for darker roasts.

This is my favorite blend designed to endure the rigors of dark roasting, and produce excellent pungent tastes, attractive bittersweet/carbony flavors, and great body. Body is so important to a darker roast. Extended roasts incinerate body, and a thin cup of burned water IS NOT what French Roast coffee is about! You do not want to fully burn up all the sugars, you want some degree of bittersweet, overlayed on the carbony charcoal tones of the burned woody structure of the bean itself. You want something still voluminous, and something sharp that stings you a bit down the center of the tongue. Well, at least if you do want these things, then we share common ground, and you might like my blend.

Please note that we made changes to improve the blend on 7/20/01. I have changed the percentages and added a new coffee that became available that really enhances the chocolatiness in the Vienna stage, and the pungency in the darker French stage

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Sweet Maria's New Classic Espresso
$6.50
$12.35
$28.28
$53.95
$103.10
New Classic Espresso Blend
Arrival dateAll current-new crop
Appearance.6 d/300gr, 15-18 Screen
GradeTop Grades
ProcessingVarious Process
RegionVarious
Varietal(s)
Intensity/Prime attributeMedium / Balance, complexity, moderate fruit, mouthfeel
RoastWe recommend a range of roasts from FC, FC+ to light Vienna. That means just ending the roast just before 2nd crack (FC), a few snaps into 2nd crack (FC+), or as second crack begins to gain some momentum (Vienna).

Once there was "Classic Italian," our espresso blend to set the benchmark for traditional European-style espresso. It was a blend based on quality Brazil coffees, with a touch of aromatic Central American coffee to add a grace note to the cup, and it had a small percentage of premium robusta in it for crema, mouthfeel, and to add traditional flavors found on the continent. But times change and tastes change. Espresso culture is much less Euro-centric, and for good reason. While Italy gave us espresso, the general quality of street-level espresso there can be exceptionally poor. Don't even talk about coffee in France. The big brands in Europe are largely run by multi-nationals who keep a close watch on price, and gleefully buy lower quality green coffee if they can save .01 Euro. The privates follow suit, in order to compete. Of course, there are the exceptions, but the darker roast styles, well into 2nd crack, to cover up the use of low quality green coffee ... well, that is NOT something to emulate. For Sweet Maria's, espresso has never been our dumping ground for coffees we can't sell, old lots, or ones with mild defect. It's been a program where we have dedicated much time, focus in cupping, and roast testing. With this in mind, we want to start over again, and offer New Classic, a somewhat silly name, an oxymoron, and overused ... but it says what I want it to say: Here is the new benchmark espresso with sweet-bittersweet balance, body, crema, and finesse, the core definition of the espresso beverage, and defines it in the established West Coast espresso style (clean, bright notes) without the burden of European espresso conventions. In other words, no robusta! No obsessive interest in crema! (You can produce buckets of crema in espresso and still have a very mediocre-tasting cup. What ... do you make espresso just to look at the beautiful crema? No dummy, you make it to drink it!)

While this blend is designed primarily for a lighter roast, stopping the roast before 2nd crack, it also works well with a darker roast treatment. It does not have the extreme brightness that have been the trademark of some of our Espresso Workshop blends; it is a bit more restrained in it's overall demeanor. The cup has a balance between sweet and bittersweet flavors, moderate bright accent, soft traces of fruit, body and depth. The lighter roasts have a very sweet aromatic, fruited with plum and a hint of spice (cinnamon stick, cardamom). Darker roasts tend toward chocolate laced with dark fruit tones, in both aroma and cup flavor. Both have a firm, opaque body, with toasted almond roast notes as the espresso cools. In the aftertaste, peach tea flavor (and it light roasts a bit of jasmine tea) are evident. Of course, results vary with how the espresso machine and grinder are set up. We use 8.5 bars of pressure at the head, with 202 degrees water temperature (measured at the head) to start, dropping to about 198. At higher temperatures, it's a more aggressive espresso with a bittersweet edge and well-suited to milk drinks.

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