September 21, 2022

Creating a signature blend for your coffee shop


In today’s competitive specialty coffee market, it’s important for coffee shops to stand out. One of the many ways they can do this is by roasting coffee in-store – creating a unique customer experience that also maximises coffee freshness.

Coffee shops can also develop their own signature blends, which help to differentiate them from their competitors. Signature blends not only provide a consistent and repeatable flavour profile for consumers, but they can also be a unique selling point for a coffee shop.

So, how can you create your own signature blend? I spoke to three coffee professionals to learn more. Read on to find out what they told me.

You may also like our article on why coffee shops would choose to roast their own beans.

roasted coffee beans in a grinder hopper

Blends vs single origin

The terms “blend” and “single origin” are commonly used in the specialty coffee industry, but what exactly are the differences?

Single origin means the coffee has originated from one place, usually one country or a specific region within that country. In some cases, it may also refer to a coffee grown on a single farm or estate.

As traceability has become more important to coffee consumers, the focus on single origins has become more significant across the industry. 

Blends, however, contain two or more single origin coffees. These can be blended in different proportions to develop a unique flavour profile – particularly one which is not repeatable with just a single origin.

Christos Sotiros is a Category Executive and Master Barista for Nestlé Professional.

“Crafting blends is mainly about customisation, especially when it comes to the needs of the coffee shop,” he explains. “Blends also allow coffee shops to adapt flavour profiles based on consumer preferences.” 

If a roaster or coffee shop wants to create a repeatable flavour profile, they can craft a blend in line with a specific taste to ensure year-round consistency.

a barista serves coffee at kofi & co

What is a “signature” blend?

Typically, when roasters and coffee shops create blends, they will offer a house or “signature” blend. 

“A signature blend is a uniquely crafted coffee blend made with single origin beans,” Christos explains. “Signature blends are created by individual coffee shops using their unique recipe.”

As well as offering a more consistent flavour profile, signature blends can help coffee shops to express their brand’s personality.

“Signature blends allow coffee shops to be creative, crafting a flavour profile that is unique to them,” says Christos. “They have the freedom to change their blend and experiment with it as often as they wish, providing more diverse coffee experiences for their consumers.

Marcello Cunha is the owner of Kofi & Co. in São Paulo, Brazil. He talks about how signature blends can help with differentiation.

“We created a signature blend which would make our coffee shop stand out, and one which our customers would also enjoy,” he says. “Our signature blend was developed by our head barista. With this blend, there is a perfect balance of sweetness, acidity, body, aroma, and aftertaste.”

Ultimately, when developed successfully, Marcello says that signature blends can be a useful marketing tool for coffee shops.

“For Kofi & Co., our signature blend helped us to create an identity,” he says. “Every coffee shop can develop its own blend, which will reinforce its brand identity.”

Henrique Massola is the owner of Malabarista Cafés Especiais in São Paulo, Brazil. He agrees that offering more unique and interesting flavours to consumers is important.

“Customers demand new flavours and aromas from coffee – they want new experiences,” he says. “With the Roastelier by Nescafé countertop roasting solution, we can offer customers freshly roasted coffee from some of the most famous coffee-producing countries in the world.”

coffee beans being roasted in a roastelier machine

How to create a signature blend

A signature blend can help a coffee shop stand out against competition, crafting your unique recipe requires focus and attention to detail to be successful. 

The flavours in the coffees you choose for the blend must be complementary. Together, it must be greater than the sum of its parts, otherwise the blend may not be popular with your customers.

So, how do you go about developing a signature blend?

“Start with a base coffee for the blend and decide on a number of factors, including whether it will be for espresso or filter, whether it will be brewed hot or cold, whether the coffee will be consumed black or with milks,” Christos tells me.

Coffee shops should consider these questions when thinking about the process of developing their signature blend. 

For instance, filter blends are typically roasted lighter than espresso blends. This is because espresso is extracted over a shorter period of time and under high amounts of pressure. 

Ultimately, this shorter extraction window means that the less porous lighter roasts are more likely to under-extract and could taste sour or flat, meaning darker roasts are typically more suitable.

Espresso also needs to have a greater intensity to “punch through” in milk-based drinks. Ultimately, accounting for these differences will influence the composition of your signature blend.

“Taste each individual component of the blend and decide which coffee contributes the most overall flavour,” Christos says. “This coffee can be used as the base, which usually makes up around 50% of the blend. 

“You can then add in other coffees to create a more complex profile,” he adds.

Tasting coffees from several different origins, as well as varieties and processing methods, allows coffee shops to have a better understanding of which flavours will pair well together.

“We use Brazilian, Colombian, and Ethiopian beans in our signature blend,” Marcello explains. “Generally, Brazilian coffee is full-bodied and brings sweetness, as well as caramel, chocolate, and nutty flavour notes. It can be a good base for espresso blends.

“Colombian coffee, meanwhile, adds more mellow acidity, caramel sweetness, and nutty undertones. Finally, Ethiopian coffee brings a spectrum of flavours, from brighter citrus flavours to fruity and sweet characteristics, often with plenty of complexity and acidity.”

Henrique tells me that Malabarista Cafés Especiais had a different development process for their signature blend.

“The process of creating our signature blend was one of trial and error. We wanted a certain percentage of Colombian and Ethiopian coffee, however, we also had to focus on what the customer wanted, too.

“We used coffee from Colombia and Ethiopia because our customers are used to the flavours in Brazilian coffee,” he adds. “The idea behind our signature blend was to highlight flavours that our customers rarely get to experience.”

Marcello, meanwhile, notes that keeping the customer’s expectations in mind is key.

“The secret to a high-quality signature blend is knowing how to blend all of the above characteristics to create the perfect cup of coffee,” he says. “Roastelier by Nescafé’s experts can provide support in creating unique signature blends.”

Light roast brown coffee beans in white cups on a wooden table top

Roasting a signature blend

For many coffee shops, investing in roasting equipment can be expensive. As well as considering equipment costs, coffee shops need to find space to roast and store coffee.

To overcome these challenges, Nestle Professional launched Roastelier by Nescafé: an over-the-counter solution which gives coffee shops and baristas more control over the roasting process.

“After years of research, our Master Roasters have developed a unique way of roasting coffee,” Christos explains. “In the early roast development stages, we take great care to perfect our roasting parameters so that coffee shops can customise the final roasting stages in-store.

“We call this technology Prime Roast. We leverage the first roast stage in our Nestlé factories, allowing coffee shops to finish it in-store to create different blends,” he adds. “This gives them more ownership and control over the freshness and quality of the final product.”

Freshness is a key factor that contributes to overall coffee quality. Once roasted, coffee becomes a volatile, delicate product. Almost as soon as roasting stops, it begins to lose its freshness, and more subtle flavours and aromas begin to fade.

Roasting in-store gives coffee shops the ability to serve coffee as fresh as possible. Roastelier’s systems allow coffee shops to roast in small batches of 250g, which can improve stock rotation, minimising the storage time. 

“For each coffee origin in our Prime Roast range, we have a number of second step roast profiles. These have been developed by our team of experts to highlight specific sensory notes,” he explains. “Customisation options for these roast profiles are available for both espresso and filter.”

Roastelier by Nescafé customers can scan a QR code to identify the origin of each coffee, each with several roast profiles which get the best out of the coffee.

Christos adds: “Once the coffee is fully roasted using the Roastelier by Nescafé system, it can then be used as a component in a signature blend – allowing coffee shop owners to craft their own signature coffee.”

Making sure signature blends appeal to consumers

“To create a signature blend, coffee shops should start by mapping out the needs of their consumers,” Christos tells me. “It’s also important to create a blend that is similar to what’s currently on your menu, and then gradually change the recipe step-by-step to make any transition [to new flavours] smoother for the customer.”

Henrique, meanwhile, highlights how signature blends can produce a range of flavour profiles when using different brewing methods, so coffee shops can offer a variety of experiences to consumers.

“Experimenting with flavours, aromas, acidity, aftertaste, and body is interesting, especially when you use different brewing methods,” he says. “When using different brewing methods for the same blend, you will be able to taste the difference. 

“If you use our signature blend to extract espresso or brew a Chemex, for example, the body, sweetness, acidity, and aftertaste will be different,” he adds. 

However, when preparing signature blends for customers, coffee shops should be mindful to account for the difference in how each individual component coffee extracts.

As different coffees extract at different rates (largely dependent on variety and roast profile), you need to make sure that all the blend components extract at a similar level.

Nonetheless, when successful, Christos says that signature blends can help coffee shops capture new customers as well as encouraging existing customers to try something new: “Signature blends allow coffee shops to adapt to the needs of their customers, as well as building consumer loyalty.”

dishing roasted coffee beans into a sample tray

The modern coffee market has never been as competitive as it is now, so it’s more important than ever for coffee brands to stand out. For coffee shops, offering new and improved coffee experiences is essential, and part of this includes developing a signature blend.

Signature blends can not only help to set your coffee brand aside from others, but they can ensure you always offer consistently delicious coffee – enhancing the overall experience for consumers.

Enjoyed this? Then read our article on seasonal coffee blends.

Photo credits: Roastelier by Nescafé

Perfect Daily Grind

Please note: Nestlé Professional is a sponsor of Perfect Daily Grind.

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