The name of a coffee blend carries a lot of weight. It can tell a story, set expectations, and win the attention of consumers.
Inspiration for names often stems from a range of sources, including origin (Mocha Java Blend), season (Winter Blend), and even the time of day (Breakfast Blend).
In recent years, specialty roasters have experimented with increasingly innovative and creative names. One of the categories they have gravitated towards in particular is desserts.
Used to create a sense of familiarity and make specialty coffee more accessible, “dessert blends” have proved an effective marketing tool, with names such as “Birthday Cake Blend” and “Fudge Blend” proving popular among consumers.
To understand more about this growing trend, I spoke with ONA Coffee’s former marketing manager, Jordan Montgomery.
What are coffee blends?
Specialty coffee is broadly divided into two categories.
As its name suggests, single origin coffee refers to coffee that comes from a single producer, farm, or region in a country. Single origin coffee is often popular among consumers. This is due to its traceability and flavour profile that is unique to a specific source.
On the contrary, a coffee blend is the combination of two or more single origin coffees. Typically it comprises no more than five different coffees, with one of them forming the “base”. This makes up a significant portion of the blend.
Coffee blends are also a staple offering of many roasters for a variety of reasons.
For one, coffee is a seasonal product, which means its availability, quality, and characteristics can change from time to time.
The supply of coffee is also affected by many other factors such as weather conditions or the political situation of a country.
As such, the option to substitute one component of a blend provides coffee roasters with flexibility when exposed to supply or quality issues.
In addition, this allows roasters to create a product that is consistent all year round.
Coffee blends help roasters fulfill the consumer demand for consistency and predictability. Furthermore, it is the more economic option.
For instance, mixing cheaper beans with more expensive coffee lowers costs. This helps roasters meet specific price points without sacrificing too much of its quality.
“The idea behind a coffee blend is to create new flavour profiles by bringing together the best qualities of each coffee, and delivering them in one cup,” says Jordan, who was a co-producer on the Coffee Heroes documentary film.
With well-rounded and balanced flavours, coffee blends are often served as milk-based drinks which can garner widespread appeal.
What is driving this trend & how will it benefit coffee roasters?
Until recently, coffee blends named after desserts have not been a common sight in the specialty coffee market. So why are roasters now using these unconventional, yet fun names?
Jordan explains that a possible reason is familiarity. “Desserts are a good option because you’ve got nice, familiar flavours that people are comfortable with,” he says. “They are sweet, delicious, and everyone has good memories associated with desserts.”
Naming a coffee blend after familiar flavours allows consumers to connect with it. “It sets an expectation based on something they can relate to,” Jordan adds.
Relatability provides comfort to consumers and, to a certain extent, it makes the product less intimidating. This helps specialty coffee become more accessible for mass coffee drinkers.
Product names that speak the common language of consumers are also more likely to be remembered.
By naming coffee blends after them, roasters can capitalise on that feel-good factor of desserts.
“Naming coffee blends in this way is an expression of creativity for the roaster, and is an opportunity for them to show their art,” Jordan says.
With creativity comes uniqueness, and this can help set roasters apart from other competitors. Specifically, having a signature and distinct coffee blend on the menu is likely to keep consumers coming back.
What to consider when naming coffee blends after desserts
In an effort to ensure their products are well received by customers, roasters should consider a few things before naming their coffee blends.
For example, the use of dessert names can create certain taste expectations in the minds of consumers. This can be an opportunity for coffee roasters or pose a threat.
Particularly, when a consumers’ flavour experience does not match expectations, it can put roasters in a tough position.
“Roasters must understand everyone has different flavour experiences and memories of how things taste,” Jordan adds. “Being too specific with any flavour profile is always dangerous.”
He says keeping tasting notes broad and giving enough room for consumers to interpret is essential. A prime example of this is the popular Birthday Cake blend.
Universally, birthdays invoke positive memories. However, the flavour interpretation of a birthday cake is unique to the consumers’ own experience.
“You can give your blend any name you want, but you also have to contextualise it,” Jordan says.
His advice to roasters is to provide consumers with as much information as possible. This includes a brewing guide, details on coffee origins that make up the blend, and how much of each origin comes together to form the new flavour experience.
Giving consumers this information can help prevent any misunderstanding of the blend being a ‘“flavoured coffee”.
In addition, Jordan emphasises the important role packaging plays in elevating the overall impression of the product.
“With packaging, it’s not just the name, it’s the whole brand appearance,” he says. “Add images of fruit, cakes, and all things involved with sweets or desserts.”
He encourages roasters to make the packaging as colourful and enticing as possible. “You want people to think they are walking into a candy or dessert shop when they see these coffees.”
Ultimately, creating coffee blends is all about expressing your creativity as a coffee roaster.
To further entice consumers, ensure you have made unique finishing touches to the packaging for your coffee blends.
Choosing to use sustainable coffee packaging can appeal to your consumers’ desire to lessen the environmental impact of their coffee habits.
MTPak Coffee offers a range of sustainable coffee bags and packaging options for coffee blends. The range is completely customisable and includes recyclable, biodegradable, and compostable options made from kraft and rice paper.
Photo credits: Rave Coffee, MTPak Coffee