Reams have been written about the similarities between coffee and chocolate. They are both grown in the tropics, and require fermentation, drying and roasting to develop their flavours.
They both have hundreds of potential aromatic compounds or flavour notes. This is what makes them such wonderful worlds to explore and what opens the door to endless pairing opportunities.
I am very particular about my coffee, and always get a few sacks put in with the cacaos I get from Colombia and Peru. Over the years I have discovered some wonderful beans this way. I give them a light roast and keep my family well supplied!
It was an obvious step to make a coffee chocolate. No coffee essences for me. I take the freshly roasted beans, and capture them in all their glory by refining them into the chocolate while they are still warm.
Pairing the right cacaos with the right coffees is the next challenge. It is tempting to do it by growing region, but really it needs to be done by flavour.
It turns out to be almost impossible to pair highly fruity, citrusy chocolates with coffee. They seem to bring out too much acidity in the coffee and the effect is a pitched battle in your mouth!
The place to look is the nutty, caramelly side of the flavour map and these are the chocolates you will find in your boxes this month, so you can try creating your own pairings.
There is one very big difference. However much I love coffee, for years I gave it up completely and just drank hot chocolate made with 100% cacao. It gives you that same boost of energy and alertness but without the edginess. Whereas caffeine in coffee stimulates the body to produce stress producing cortisol, theobromine in chocolate makes the body produce endorphins which are what make you feel good after exercise. As a drink, for me it is chocolate all the way!
As ever, start with Pure Gold, the 100% Sur del Lago cacao from Venezuela. To allow your mouth to adapt, you always start dark and move sweet in a tasting. This and both the Las Trincheras 72 and the Rio Caribe 72 are in the nutty part of the flavour map. If you are doing a coffee pairing see how these work differently to Surabaya 69 with its intense caramel notes.
Las Trincheras is the bean I chose to make this month’s coffee chocolate. It provides the perfect gentle back note and allows the coffee to come to the fore.
Now we turn nutty. I always associate walnuts with coffee, a childhood of coffee walnut cakes and walnut whips perhaps. So that is the other Magnificent Creation I made this month. And to go with it I have chosen chocolates made with other nuts as a point of comparison: Pistachio Date, Hazelnut Raisin 100%, Hazelnut Raisin 70% and Almendra made with the incomparable Marcona almonds.
Toasted Walnut. Las Trincheras 72 dark chocolate with coffee and walnuts #59
I have always wanted to make a proper walnut whip! But until then, here you have the perfect pairing of smooth nutty dark chocolate and lightly roasted walnuts.
Turkish coffee. Nutty Las Trincheras 72 dark chocolate with coffee and spices. #61
Turkish Coffee is a highlight of the coffee world. Every household and region has its preferred spice blend based around cardamom, and all go perfectly with chocolate.