If you follow me on Instagram you probably saw this photo.
After months of reading, tasting, talking, exploring, and learning all I can about coffee (alone, and also coffee and Starbucks together) I am finally a certified Coffee Master. This journey focused on coffee history, geographic origins, coffee agriculture, sourcing and buying, green coffee quality, the art of roasting and blending, and my favorite part:
Coffee, like wine grapes, gets much of its flavor from the specific growing conditions and processing methods of whatever region it was produced in. Three of the main coffee producing regions are: Latin America, Africa, and Asia. Each of these regions have specific flavor characteristics that give each coffee blend its distinct coffee “notes.”
What’s a coffee note you ask? Certain flavors are detected in coffee’s that allow them to harmonize well with certain foods. Have you ever had a cup of Joe that just didn’t mesh well with your blueberry muffin? This is due to the specific notes present with each blend. Alone this coffee may be just what you’re looking for, but when shared alongside a meal you’ll want to be a bit more particular.
Coffee blends alone may survive just fine, but when you combine them with the right foods the harmony is out of this world.
Lets break down the top three regions by their coffee notes.
Latin America – high balanced flavors of cocoa or nuts, as well as a crisp, bright acidity.
Africa – Floral and citrus characteristics.
Asia – Full body and spicy flavors with balanced acidity and herbal notes.
Part of my final certification was putting together a coffee tasting. As a food AND coffee lover you can imagine my excitement when the two come together. If anyone is interested in learning more about a proper coffee tasting with coffee alone, let me know in the comments.
I chose one coffee from each coffee region, plus one coffee that is multi-regional and paired each with different foods.
Kenya – An African grown coffee with complimentary flavors of grapefruit, berries, currants, raisins, and oranges.
For this pairing I made an orange and currant quinoa salad. Sounds bizarre right? Oranges, quinoa, and coffee? This went together SO well it was almost magical. I could have cried from the joy I felt.
Komodo Dragon – An Asia/Pacific coffee with complimentary flavors of cinnamon, maple, buttery breads, and pastries.
For this pairing I chose almond butter stuffed dates sprinkled with cinnamon. The flavors harmonized almost perfectly. This is a common breakfast pairing for me, except I also use a rice cake for my base.
Guatemala Antigua – A Latin American grown coffee with complimentary flavors of cocoa, apples, caramel, and nuts.
Organic Yukon – A multi-regional blend with beans from both Latin American and Asia. This blend is mellow and well balanced with complimentary flavors of cinnamon, raisins, oatmeal, and chocolate.
Due to the cocoa and chocolate notes in both of these coffee’s, they both paired well with some chocolate chip coffee cookies. I used fresh ground Yukon beans in the mix for these cookies. I also paired these two coffees with some toasted coconut cashews.
While these all balanced well together, I found that the Yukon paired a bit better with the cookie, and the Guatemala paired a bit better with the cashews. Guatemala has more nutty notes while Yukon has more chocolate notes so this made complete sense.
To conduct a proper tasting, each coffee should be brewed with high quality water, a proper grind for your brewing method, proper ratio of water to grinds, and your coffee should be fresh. Coffee should then be tasted in it’s pure form, without the addition of milks and sugars.
Lucky for me I am a black coffee connoisseur so conducting tastings is naturally one of my favorite things to do. Tampering (or destroying in my humble opinion) with the coffee by adding milk or sugar hinders the natural flavors from being detected. Not a fan of black coffee? That’s OK, I don’t like beer..we all have our downfalls. 😉
- What’s your favorite coffee pairing?
- Have you ever payed attention to how certain coffees can CLASH with certain foods? For example the orange quinoa salad would have been TERRIBLE with any of the other coffees I mentioned in this post.
- Would anyone like to see a short post in more depth about how to conduct a coffee tasting?