Whether shopping in the grocery store or ordering at your local coffee shop, you’ve probably seen a coffee house blend on offer. You might even associate certain flavors with a particular brand like Starbucks. But what is a house blend coffee? The short answer is that it is a unique blend of beans that represents the flavor and approach of a coffee house or chain. This blend also tends to be their regular drip coffee offering.
House blends can also be a fun way to explore the history of a coffee shop and how it approaches coffee roasting and extraction.
So in this article, I explore how house blend coffees differ from single-origin beans or other blends like breakfast. I’ll also describe how coffee shops make these blends, along with some top recommendations from popular brands.
**Best of Brewing is supported by our readers, and we sometimes earn a commission through the affiliate links on our website.**
What Is House Blend Coffee Meaning?
The name house blend comes derives from coffee houses producing a unique blend of beans that represents their brand. Even though the specific mix of bean varieties can change throughout the year, most coffee shops aim to produce a consistent flavor profile throughout the year.
While house blend coffees tend to be the standard drip coffee offering at most shops, brewers can also use it to make espresso-based drinks.
House Blend Coffee Description
Many brands produce a house blend with similar flavors, usually balancing beans with nutty flavors with African beans that tend to have a bright acidity. These flavors combine with the taste of the roast itself, which for house blends is usually a medium or dark roast.
House blends can use arabica or robusta beans. Whatever the blend, the goal is to make something straightforward that every coffee lover will enjoy. Instead of going for sharp/edgy flavors like many espresso blends, a house blend is all about balance and consistency. Even if the mix of beans changes throughout the seasons, customers rely on a house blend to have a consistent flavor representative of the brand.
The House Blend Starbucks History
Since coffee houses date back centuries, it is difficult to claim who first used the term and in what language they used it. But we can say that house blends became a widely used term starting from the 1970s, as the house blend coffee at Starbucks was their first blend from 1971.
The name “house” refers to the coffee house, and the implication is that you are getting a unique flavor profile that represents a specific coffee shop or restaurant. House blends aim for balance and consistency so that customers always know what flavor to expect.
What Types of Beans are Used in a House Blend?
The specifics of a house blend vary depending on the preferences of the roaster. But since a reliably balanced and smooth flavor is the primary goal, roasters usually combine beans from various regions so that they create a balance of acidity and nuttiness.
Colombian beans are a popular component of house blends because they are naturally balanced and have a medium body. Brazilian beans are also common in a house blend because they have a mild flavor—often these are robusta beans. When specialty coffee shops want to make a fancier house blend, they will likely combine high-acidity arabica beans from Africa with arabica varieties from countries such as Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Honduras.
What Does House Blend Coffee Taste Like?
The two primary goals of a house blend are consistency and likeability. Coffee shops and roasting companies want their house blend to appeal to the widest range of tastes. As such, most coffee houses use a medium roast with a flavor profile that has a mild sweetness and nutty-tasting notes.
However, the specific taste depends on the roaster, and specialty shops might aim for complex house blends. For the most part, house blends taste approachable and simple, lacking the intensity and acidity of single-origin beans.
What Is the Difference Between a House Blend and Other Coffee Blends?
Compared to other blends such as dark roast or breakfast, the house blend is the least specific. As you just read, the main goal is not a specific flavor so much as an easy-drinking balance that the majority of people will like.
But let’s compare house blends with other popular blends.
House Blend vs Breakfast Blend
While breakfast blends are designed to be liked by most coffee drinkers, they tend to take more risks with sweetness and acidity. House blends usually have a medium body and rely on nutty flavor notes. But breakfast blends tend to be light and delicate with the goal of being refreshing.
A breakfast blend will usually have higher caffeine content, although that is by no means guaranteed.
House Blend vs Single Origin
Single origin coffee means that all of the beans come from the same farm. Just like the grapes with wine, the location of coffee plants greatly affects the flavor. And single-origin coffee is all about highlighting the uniqueness of a specific plant grown at a specific location.
Single-origin coffee beans can have radical tasting notes, and they are usually roasted lighter to highlight their unique flavors. These coffees are almost always more expensive than house blends because they are harder to source.
Dark Roast Blend
House blends tend to have a medium roast so that it maintains an approachable flavor that the widest range of coffee drinkers will enjoy. But a dark roast coffee blend roasts the beans until they turn dark brown or black.
With dark roast blends, you tend to taste the flavors of the roast such as smoky and earthy notes. Dark roasts also tend to be bitter, which is why many people enjoy them with milk.
How Do You Brew a Delicious Cup of House Blend?
Brewing house blend coffee involves the same principles as brewing any other type of coffee. You can brew drip coffee on the automatic machines in most houses or by using a manual pour over coffee recipe. Either way, use two heaping tablespoons of house blend beans for every eight ounces of water or use a gram scale to get a 1:16 ratio of coffee to water. You can refer to this brewing basics article if you are new to home coffee and want further details.
But otherwise, you should just know that most house blends taste best using the drip method. Other methods can work just fine (even espresso,) but most of these blends are intended for drip styles.
What Are the Most Popular Brands of House Blend?
Coffee culture began in the first wave with canned coffee at the grocery store with an emphasis on affordability. The second and third waves meant that people had a more refined taste for coffee, as I mentioned before with Starbucks House Blend history. Even these house blends were more thoughtfully sourced and roasted.
Some of the most popular brands of house blend coffee include:
- Starbucks House Blend Coffee: This is a medium-roast coffee made from a blend of Latin American beans. Expect a balanced and smooth flavor with notes of cocoa and nuts. You can also buy these as K-Cup Pods.
- Peet’s Coffee Medium Roast: This coffee is medium-roast and blended with beans from Latin America, East Africa, and the Pacific. It has a well-balanced flavor with hints of fruit and chocolate.
- Dunkin’ Donuts Original Blend: This medium-roast coffee blends Central and South American beans. It has a smooth and rich flavor and a subtle sweetness. This coffee is also available as K-Cup Pods.
- Caribou Coffee Medium Roast: This blend is a medium-roast coffee also comprised of Central and South American coffee beans. The smooth and balanced flavor has notes of chocolate and nuts.
- Tim Hortons Original Blend: This coffee is also medium-roast and made from Central and South American beans. Expect a mellow flavor with some sweetness on the finish. You can also get this blend as K-Cup Pods.
These blends from major companies tend to be extremely consistent, and almost any coffee drinker will enjoy them.
Specialty Coffee House Blends
If you’re reading a blog about coffee, chances are higher that you have an interest in specialty coffee. The linked article goes over the details and history. But the summary is that specialty coffee is the third wave of coffee that focuses on the highest quality beans, roasting, and brewing. Expect slightly lighter roasts that have more delicate tasting notes.
So if you’re willing to spend a bit more and want to brew delicious house blends from some of the most well-known specialty roasters, consider trying one of the following:
- Intelligentsia Light Roast House: This light roast balances tasting notes of milk chocolate, citrus, and apple.
- Blue Bottle Smooth and Balanced Blend: Expect subtle tasting notes of caramel, lemon zest, and cocoa. This coffee also pairs wonderfully with milk.
- Stumptown Hair Bender: This medium roast blends beans from Latin America, Indonesia, and Africa. The flavors of sweet citrus, dark chocolate, and raisin are complex and intense but also balanced and smooth.
- La Colombe Nizza Medium Roast: This blend balances flavors of roasted nuttiness with subtle fruit-forward sweetness.
Frequently Asked Questions
Before leaving us to buy or brew the coffee house blend of your choosing, let’s answer a few of the most frequently asked questions people have about house blend coffees.
What does house blend coffee mean?
House blends are a specific combination of coffee beans and roast profiles that create the signature flavor for a coffee shop. A house blend is supposed to be easy-drinking and approachable by all coffee drinkers.
What kind of coffee is house blend?
A house blend of coffee is not a specific type of bean but rather, a specific blend of beans unique to the roaster. To make house blends balanced and drinkable, they usually combine beans from Latin America, Africa, and Asia.
Is house blend coffee strong?
In terms of flavor, house blend coffee is not strong because most have the goal of being balanced and approachable. But house blends can be strong if you use more coffee.
Does a house blend have a lot of caffeine?
House blends do not contain more caffeine than other blends, and often they contain less because they are designed to be easy-drinking.
What’s the difference between Colombian and house blend coffee?
Colombian coffee comes from Colombia and tends to have a mild acidity and medium body, often with subtly sweet notes of nuts and caramel. House blends can contain Colombian beans, but they combine them with coffee from other regions.
Hopefully, you now have a much clearer understanding of what house blend coffee is and why people love it so much. The balanced and consistent flavors give you a reliable source of caffeine no matter the situation. Plus, house blends showcase how coffee shops and brands approach roasting and flavor.
And when in doubt, serve house blends to your guests and they will almost certainly enjoy it!