/files/u707/yowza.jpg" align="left" border="0" height="249" hspace="15" vspace="15" width="249" />For this week’s post, I decided to try another single-origin coffee. Inside the specialty coffee shop, I asked the clerk what single-origins she had. Ooh, how about this nice Brazilian roast I have?, she asked kind of seductively. Sure, sounds good, I told her. As she started scooping the beans, a wave of terror flooded through me, and I burst out with They are Arabica beans, right? (looking to avoid a repeat of last week’s Robusta nightmare.) Of course! They are all Arabica!, she responded without pause. I explained my experiment tasting 100% Robusta beans. No,…you can have a little Robusta mixed in a blend to give it some kick, but to drink only Robusta –no, it’s no good. [groan] Now, she tells me.
She let me smell the freshly ground Brazilian roast. Whoa, baby! I left the store a happy man. Riding my bicycle home I had another idea for the post. Inspired by fellow ROASTe blogger Bill Lush, who wrote that, “the enjoyment of a cup of coffee can change dramatically depending on what you're eating along with it,” I decided to do my own taste test. I made a few stops on the ride home and picked up a croissant, a piece of dark chocolate, and my namesake, some biscotti.
When I got home, I started making some scrambled eggs. While they were cooking, I took out some whole grain bread and spread some soft, kinda foul (in a good way) cheese over it. Now I had two savory options to go with my sweet offerings. Then, I began heating some water to brew up the Brazilian roast in my French press.I tasted the first cup by itself – in order to put my nascent cupping skills to the test. I wouldn’t call this cheating, but I still like to do this in front of my computer, where I’m able to look at a list of coffee flavor terms. Until I know the terms well enough that they become automatic, it helps me to look at the list as I sip my cup – so I can look at the terms and be like yes…no…[sip again] yes, maybe a little…[sip]…no, no, no….yes…
So, how did this Brazilian roast stack up? Well, it had a lot of body – meaning, it had a sort of weight on my tongue. It was rich, but subtly so. It had a medium acidity, somewhere in between smooth and lively. [Side note: in coffee terms, “acidity” doesn’t have anything to do with the ph level; it might sound unappealing, but it really just means having flavor that *pops*; it’s a desirable quality.] It was somewhat bitter and had a hint of buttery taste to it. On its own, it was good, but not great.
Round One: Dark Chocolate
I sampled some dark chocolate with the coffee first. Solid dark chocolate on the outside, with a creamy dark chocolate center. Quite delicious, actually. With it, the Brazilian roast tasted….quite chocolaty – what a surprise! But hey, I can’t help it, that’s what it tasted like. As the hot brew washed the creamy center off the roof of my mouth, it almost tasted like I was drinking hot cocoa. How delightful!
I had a plate of saltines and a glass of ice water on the table to cleanse my palate in between rounds. *crunch*, *crunch*, *crunch*. *gulp*, *gulp*, *gulp*.
Round Two: Scrambled Eggs
From sweet, to savory. I thought it best to mix up the tastes this way, so I had the eggs next, which I had seasoned with some salt and pepper. The first couple of sips, there wasn’t much happening. In fact, the eggs seemed to wash away most of the Brazilian roast’s flavor, except maybe its hint of butteriness. But then, something unexpected happened: the sips accompanying my last two bites really called forth the pepper I had seasoned the eggs with! Not like a little, but like – a lot! Yowza-style! Unexpected, and curious – as if the coffee were a catalyst extracting this taste from the eggs themselves, rather than the flavor coming from within the coffee itself.
*crunch!* *glug, glug* I have to say my poor dog Petey was so well behaved during this whole exercise. All my/files/u707/IMG_4246aa.jpg" align="right" border="0" height="133" hspace="10" vspace="10" width="200" /> attention going to the food on the coffee table; none of it (the attention, nor the food) for him. But he did not pester me one bit. It’s as if he sensed the gravity of it all, LOL.
Round Three: Croissant
Next up, some rich buttery goodness. I knew my croissant was a good one, too, b/c its oil stained through the paper bag the man at the café gave me. Mmm…, trans fats. Another shocker, here: it enhanced the buttery elements of the Brazilian roast. Yet it also added some sweetness to the taste. These two really went well together; the flavor of the Brazilian became more fine thanks to its French…lover?
Round Four: Cheese spread on bread
This combination produced a very neat effect, one that was more tactile than flavor based. Something about the feeling of the hot coffee sliding this soft cheese spread against the roof of my mouth…it wasn’t sweet, wasn’t buttery, wasn’t savory… It was more like the juxtaposition of the coolness of the cheese against the heat of the Brazilian roast – this contrast was pleasant. This sensation was hard to articulate, so I kept taking more sips & bites, trying to get clear on it, but – gasp! – I was running out of sandwich! Thankfully, there was just enough to get clear on this.
Final answer, Regis. Also, the cheese spread did seem to increase both the richness and boldness of the roast’s taste somewhat.
Final Round: biscotti
No, I didn’t save this one for last because it’s my namesake, and I was trying to be dramatic.
Well, maybe just a little. No, srsly, it was just the sweet/salty alternations that anointed it my closer. This biscotti had almonds and dried apricots inside it, and – yum! – was seasoned with anise. Well, what do you think happened? Much like what happened with the eggs, the Brazilian roast really made the anise POP! Here’s a question for you experienced coffee tasters: is it a known quality that coffee accentuates food’s spices?
In summary, sometimes coffee seems a blank slate; its taste heavily influenced by the food you are eating with it. Yet, I also experienced instances of my Brazilian roast’s taste changing in a wholly unique way – not merely taking on the flavor of the food. This was a very fun experiment, and I do recommend trying it yourself. The only downside was…the calories, and a lot of dishes to do.