Archive for July, 2007
Coffee is to be no longer underrated. It’s no longer that set of tin cans lining the common supermarket shelf and will likely no longer be so disrespected. Coffee is now the pride of the same connoisseur who for so many millenniums prized and cherished wines and chocolates.
Coffee is finding its own now. It’s being cautiously paired with only the desserts that are a perfect match; or the right quality chocolate that enhances just the right nuance of coffee. Coffee is a ritual, a feast in itself.
Coffee is the new millennium drink of the connoisseur of every class. Now rated for its tones, its nuances, rated for the personal qualities of the world’s beans and is sold to the highest bidder.
People have always been willing to pay a premium for what they’ve perceived as bouquet wine. Putting outstanding price tags on gourmet specialty coffee beans (an $11 billion industry) has become part of the connoisseur game.
George Howell, founder of the George Howell Coffee Company and its Terroir Coffee brand based in Acton, Mass., proclaims coffee a “noble beverage,” worthy of the same respect as fine wine. And in the recent years coffee has earned its worth.
Forbes Magazine has recently rated beans at the front of the race, naming 10 of the world’s most precious coffees.
Specialty beans of the finest caliber are pure in tone, superior beans costing more than $100 per pound. Do not, dare to add a drop of cream or sugar to such a brew for the sake of losing its natural charm, the beans distinct natural sweetness and fragrance.
Champion beans are grown on world estates…small family farms at high elevations by farmers who care more for their quality than quantity. Such beans are prized for their characteristics.
According Forbe Magazine the joes that hold the highest price tags include such bean beauties as:
Kopi Luwak form Indonesia
Standing at a impressive $160 per pound, Luwak Coffee is made from coffee cherries that have been eaten by local creatures, the common palm civet, which use its keen sense of smell to select the choicest and ripest beans. The digestion process removes the flesh from the crimson Sumatran berry and the beans, supposedly sweeter as a result of having passed through the animal, are hand-collected from the jungle floor. Undeniably the most unique fermentation process for coffee beans.
Hacienda La Esmeralda from Boquete, Panama
Second in line, and standing with distinction, at $104 per pound. Hacienda La Esmeralda’s Geisha coffee set an online auction record when it sold for over $50 dollars per pound, unroasted, on May 30, 2006. The coffee, which is grown in the shade of old guava trees, has been widely and enthusiastically praised for its flavor and aroma. In April, it placed first in the SCAA “Best of Panama” competition, with a score of 94.6 out of 100.
Albeit not receiving such medals of honor, all regional coffee are merited for their own uniqueness in flavor.
For every mountain that grows a boutique crop of coffee, there is a primary set of qualities noted in that region. Add to this, the weather conditions, that in itself will vary from year to year, along with the method of storing and roasting that sets these unique characteristics apart from one region to another, let alone, one cuppa joe to the next.
Take for example, a Monsoon roasted bean. Monsooned coffees are picked and then stored in open-sided warehouses and exposed to the steady, damp, salty monsoon winds. Shortly, these beans gain a flavor reminiscent of, but distinct from aged coffees. The most common monsooned coffee is Indian monsooned Malabar.
Much akin to discerning wines, the coffee industry has defined flavor variances with words that conotate each coffee’s characteristics or personal flavor identity, allowing a coffee drinker to make a educated decisions on their roast preferences..
Related both to the roast and to variety. Similarly used to the acidity in wine, and not to acid content, an alternate expression would be “bright” or “lively.” Think of it more of a sensation than a taste, and is experienced on the tip of the tongue and/or the roof of the mouth. Longer roasting lowers perceived acidity. No-acidity coffees come across overly flat, lacking a pleasant palate-cleansing aspect, with a baked or “bready” quality.
Stronger acidity can often have wine-like aspects, especially in many Kenyan coffees, which, in fact seem citrusy to the taste. The more extreme the acidity, the more it will feel astringent.
You can measure by such terms from lowest to highest as “soft-mellow”, “subtle hint of tanginess”, “pleasantly tangy”, bold-pique”, “assertive-sharp”. Examples of high acidity coffees include Kenya AA (with heavy body), Puerto Rico “Yauco Selecto Estate” (with smooth light body), and Ethiopia Longberry (with bold heavy body),. More subtle, low acidity coffees include Indian Malabar “Monsooned Voyager” (with smooth light body), Jamaican Blue Mountain (with smooth light body), Kona “Volcanic Estate” (with bold heavy body), and Sumatra Mandheling (with bold heavy body).
African originated coffees would give you the sharpest taste, with a pronounced, astringently clean, assertive, robust, strong flavor, while on the other side of the acid spectrum lies the coffees of India: spicy, earthy, unusual, distinct and complex.
Roast and variety related. Look at this as the coffee’s “Flavor Hamony Ratio”. The roaster is aiming for a pleasing combination of multiple characteristics, with none overpowering. Coffees often are mixed together into “coffee blends” for just this purpose. Toning down and tuning up certain attributes for a smooth consistent flavor. In this way coffee drinkers enjoy a myriad of quality experiences, with none overpowering to the palate With coffee profiling, the ratios move along from “delicate and lean” (the India region being your most delicate), to “subtle”, to “pleasingly complex”, to “a great depth of flavor” and finally “perfect and complete” (the regions of Africa and the Carribean with the greatest extent of this).
Roast and variety related. Reminiscent of wine tasting, body is truly the “mouth feel” the experience of texture, viscosity or fullness on the tongue. Body develops with the degree of roast, but falls sharply with over roasted coffee. Different origins naturally have their own distinctive body as well. Interestingly certain brewing methods impart body “thickness”, like coffee from a press, where fine particulates remain suspended, or espresso, which contains emulsified coffee oils. Under-extracted or underbrewed coffee will also have a defectively light body.
In regards to the preferred bean of choice, coffee aficionados tend to prefer the higher quality Robusta bean over the Arabica. Robusta beans are the mountain grown assortment, cultivated on small plantations, whereas Arabica beans would be grown in the lower altitude, being mass market varieties found commonly in the canned coffees found in supermarkets. Robusta tends to be more bitter than do arabica beans. Arabica beans have higher caffeine content than Robusta, however. Some coffee makers will mix in some Arabica into their Robusta roasts to spike the caffeine.
Coffee & Dessert pairing
Finally, to enhance a specialty coffee experience add in a perfectly paired dessert for the experience complete!
Acidic, sweet & light roasts
Pair the more delicate fruits or berries, or key lime pie, lemon merangue, or fruit tart.
Such desserts would perfectly compliment coffees that include: Brazlian, Jamaican Blue Mountain, Guatemala Antigua, or Columbian.
Evenly balanced roasts (acidity and body)
Deserving of well textured desserts like carrot cake and tiramusu. The fruity/winey notes of Ethiopian, Zambian, Tanzanian or Kenyan, can bring carrot cake to life.
For a more full body choice of coffees, such as Yemen “Mocca” or Sumatra, the smooth silkiness of cheesecake is heaven on earth.
Full bodied coffees
The heavy tones and thick qualities of this coffee make a primo match for your most decadent desserts like heavy, rich chocolate mousse, chocolate cake and ice cream. French and Italian roasts perfectly fit the bill. And don’t forget the whipped cream!
The View from the Bay
Whole Latte Love
Gragson’s Coffee Tips
About The Author
Michelle Faber is owner of Gourmet CoffeeXpress, the “Ultimate Website Gallery”,
showcasing the creme de la creme in gourmet coffees, & teas, and artisan chocolates, desserts & gifts.
Within this gallery, you can find incredibly high quality items, and many designer styled products.
Gourmet CoffeeXpress offers distinctive products for gift-giving and personal pleasure with world-class service.
Please visit Gourmet CoffeeXpress at http://www.gourmetcoffeexpress.com
Visit her site today at http://www.gourmetcoffeexpress.com and explore the MOST EXTRAORDINARY coffee, chocolate & gift collections.
Ludicrous as it may seem, here’s some truly fascinating facts for you to savor as you reward yourself with your next bar of chocolate… Check out the world’s most expensive chocolates!
Chocolate may be an aprodisiac, but it is also a $$$moneymaker!
(according to Forbes Magazine)
You might enjoy knowing what Forbes Magazine considers to be the world’s most expensive and most likely, least affordable chocolates. Forbes featured a fascinating article on the poshest brands…ones that likely sprinkle gold dust into their cocoa…well, lots of it! So before you think of purchasing you might better find your gold so that you can afford to pursue a pound, or merely a trifle…(or should I say truffle)! To find out more about truly decadent chocolate bling for your sweetheart click here:http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/11281256/
Knipschilt Chocolates certainly leads the bunch, when it comes to price. Featured top of the list by Forbes Magazine, it’s the CROWN JEWEL CONFECTION of the world: a striking $2600 per pound.
Obviously, this is the one special Truffle truly fit for Royalty…Fritz Knipschildt, from Denmark, and Maitre Chocolatier, of Knipschildt Chocolatier (founded in 1999 and awarded top honors as one of 3 best chocolatiers in the world by Gourmet Magazine) created the 42-gram (1.5 ounce) gem of a confection. This ultra sweet indulgence is handcrafted using a dark, classic ganache.The ganache is made using French Valrhona Chocolate blended with fresh cream that has been infused for 24 hours with the flavor of vanilla pods and pure Italian truffle oil. The ganache is then shaped around a French Perigord Truffle, known also as French black truffle (this truffle alone costs up to $1,000 per pound-454 grams). Next it is dipped in a 70% cocao-rich French Valrhona dark chocolate, and is finally dusted in cocoa powder.
What really makes the “Madeleine” Truffle so exquisite is the time and energy that goes into it. The ganache, for example, must be whipped repeatedly to make it as soft and silky as possible, and then it must be chilled so that it’s easier to work with. It’s a long and painstaking process, and for all its intensive labor…undoubtedly a labor of love…is revealed a flavor that is so ultimately tantalizing, each savory moment upon the palate, is worthy of every dime.
Each delicate truffle is ultimately packaged as if it were a jewel, placed within a silver jewelry box. Before which, the truffle is placed inside of a pouch similar to the ones diamonds are transported in. This pouch is, set inside its silver home, nestled comfortably within red satin, tied in edible sugar pearls, and adorned with a ribbon.
Added to each exquisite gift: a personal note from Fritz himself, that includes a number to let the buyer know that he is the proud owner of a limited edition jewel of a chocolate truffle.
Madeleine truffles are very, very special and cannot be ordered over the counter. To order one of these extravagant confections they must be special ordered about 2 weeks ahead of time.
Moving right along…
For a much less decadent, but still mightily expensive option (and also on Forbes most expensive list), the very upscale cacao beans used by fine chocolate artisan Chuao Chocolatier would still take a hefty bank roll to purchase.
The Cost: $79.00 per pound Chuao Chocolatier, named after the cacao-producing region of Chuao, Venezuela, uses European techniques to make their Venezuelan chocolate. Only fresh ingredients are used, and absolutely no preservatives are allowed in these handmade chocolates. These chocolates are single origin in nature, in that they reflect the specific and very delicate nuances of the region where the bean is grown. This is because no beans from any other region are blended in to homogenize the flavor.
Despite the over-the-top prices for these specialty (special order) truffles within the Forbes featured lines, any of these high quality brands also feature unbelievable collections of tasteful, sophisticated and mighty succulent chocolates to give the one you care for… affordably.