A friend asked me recently what exactly a holiday blend coffee was, and I have to admit that I found it a difficult question to answer. Should a holiday blend contain a specific wintery profile? Should it be a blend with coffees that are most seasonally appropriate to December? Is it just a regular coffee with some cute Holiday-related packaging on it?
Luckily, the roasters we work with are offering up more and more interesting and delicious holiday blends every year. Does that give us a more specific answer as to what a holiday blend is? Not exactly. But it does give us a lot of really delicious coffees to drink (and gift to our friends!) while pondering the question. Here are some of our favorites:
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The flavor notes on this bag say “peace, love, and joy” and according to our QC team, that’s just about right! They’ve combined a washed and natural Ethiopian coffee with a washed Honduran for a blend that’s as distinct as any coffee we’ve tasted this winter. It’s full of berry and brown sugar flavors that seem winter appropriate, but also so bright and refreshing that it makes us think of summer.
Dune Holiday Blend ($18.85)
I can say with almost absolute certainty that this is the first blend of a Natural Panama, Sumatra, and Colombia that I’ve ever had, and it proves to be quite a combination.
Novo’s blend has notes of chocolate and caramel and plenty of other qualities that’ll make everyone at your family table happy (but it really stands out with super ripe berry notes).
Novo Holiday Blend v.18 ($21.20)
Some holiday blends seem tailor-made for sipping next to a fire (and, if you so choose, with a pour of holiday spirit). This combo of two Ethiopian coffees and a Guatemalan tastes like baking spice, brown sugar, and a slice of lemon in your tea, with a juniper note that makes it just a little more pine tree-like.
Temple Festivity ($21.20)
A blend of coffees from Burundi and Ethiopia (like, wow!), this wonderfully-named coffee from Brooklyn’s City of Saints tastes like finishing up a glass of red wine and transitioning directly into chocolate cake. It’s cozy and special at the same time, and what more can you ask for from a coffee in December.
Doma’s winter offering is a creamy and comforting blend of microlot coffees from Mexico and Costa Rica. Along with sweet notes of nougat and pear, it bears the gift of a gentle herby note that, at least in December, hints at pine trees and mistletoe.
DOMA Winter Wonderland ($21.75)
Red Rooster has delivered not one but two holiday blends this year. Sweet is delicate and playful, with tropical fruit and floral notes you might expect to find in a washed Ethiopian coffee.
Bold has more traditional flavors of chocolate and baking spice, plus a leg lamp bag design that makes it a perfect gift for your Christmas Story-obsessed second cousin.
This year’s Framily is a washed Ethiopian roasted slightly darker than we’re used to seeing those coffees. In addition to a creamy body, this coffee has enough citrus and black tea flavors to impress any palate, but also enough roast taste to register with any dark roast fans.
Onyx Framily ($21.20)
Irving Farm is yet another roaster choosing to present a single origin as their holiday coffee. These beans come from the Platanares farm in Honduras and taste like chocolate, nut, and vanilla — a classic coffee combination.
If you like your holidays merry and darkly roasted, this blend from Caffe Vita will do very nicely. It lets a little bit of apricot flavor shine through a cozy blanket of dark chocolate and roasty notes.
Caffe Vita Holiday Blend ($22.40)
Oren’s wintry offering puts together coffees from Burundi, Kenya, and Colombia for a unique blend of origins that still yields a balanced result. It has a very pleasant tart cherry acidity that leads off the proceedings before fading into familiar flavors of caramel and cinnamon fit for any holiday table.
Oren’s Holiday Blend ($18.85)
With a mixture of coffees from Colombia and Kenya, Kuma’s wonderfully-named Bear Claus delivers a unique flavor profile deserving of a holiday celebration. Think: lots of rich cocoa sweetness, combined with fun lime acidity.
Kuma’s Bear Claus ($22.40)
Merit’s holiday coffee is every bit as sweet as its name would lead you to think. This This holiday coffee comes from Ethiopia, and it marries a deep brown sugar sweetness with a long-lasting, tart, and floral note of hibiscus for a beautiful effect that would be worth celebrating no matter the season.
Merit Sugarplum Holiday Blend ($20.60)
Much like a string of holiday lights, this blend imparts a gentle brightness, with notes of pear accenting a wildly sweet cup with notes of pecan and baking spice. Serve this up next to pie at dessert and watch everyone smile.
Metric Tangled Lights ($20)