So you’ve always wanted to blend your own coffee? Me, too. That’s one of the many reasons I started roasting my own. There’s a certain allure to being able to say, “This is my blend,” and considerable satisfaction found in having produced it with your own hands. ‘Course, there’s a not-so-fine line between pride of craftsmanship, which nearly always has some sweat involved; pride of ownership, which may or may not be a result of your own labors; and plain ol’ vanity, which is like as not a wish to show the world what your money can buy. These are distinctions your trusty author continues to struggle with. Just ask herself, the lovely Mrs. trusty author.

And so, as the San Francisco Bay Coffee Company launches a new roast- and blend-to-order service — fronted with a shiny new web service, of course — we’re left to struggle with whether this is an idea who’s time has come, or whether this is merely a recipe for bad coffee. For, despite the company veep’s argument that you can toss together any ol’ coffee and it’s going to taste just great, my own experience suggests that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts when it comes to blending.

It’s not always easy to predict how two, three, or more coffees are going to play together in the cup. In fact, the results can be not only surprising, but confounding… and sometimes, icky. A good blend is the result of a lot of trial and error, most of it error. And with a minimum order of 18 pounds of custom-blended coffee, that’s an expensive learning experience.

Much easier all ’round to order two or three pounds of various coffees you like from a roaster you know, and to blend them yourself. Just brew a cup of this and a cup of that, and spoon coffee from one cup to the next till you have a flavor that floats your boat. Got it? Now blend your beans in the same ratio.

Don’t forget, of course, to print your own vanity label.

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