The hottest new thing in coffee is...chocolate.
Here at the Fancy Food Show in New York, chocolatiers were as excited about ROASTe.com as are coffee roasters.
The reason is that chocolatiers are increasingly pairing their chocolates with coffees.
You've probably heard of chocolate and wine tastings. But chocolate and coffee tastings are quite new.
I've talked a bunch of times with a world-famous chocolatier from France named Richart about their chocolate-coffee pairings. They've been pairing their single-origin chocolates with single-origin and single-estate coffees from George Howell's Terroir Coffee. At the Fancy Food Show, Theo Chocolate from Seattle said that it is doing coffee tastings together with Caffe Vita from across town.
The reason is that there's remarkable similarity between chocolate and coffee: they both come from the same climates near the equator; they're both beans from inside a fruit; they're both dried by similar techniques of wet or dry processing; they're both dried, roasted and ground.
Coffee of course has been way ahead of chocolate in branding its single origins and single estates and in letting customers know the origin character of coffees. Who doesn't know to ask for a Colombian coffee? Or who hasn't heard of Mocha Java?
Chocolate has had to catch up. Only now are consumers beginning to learn what is a Colombian chocolate, or one from Indonesia. And for that reason it's very interesting to compare the origin character of say Colombian chocolate and Colombian coffee, together at one time.
To do this requires a wide selection of coffees and chocolates. This is exactly what the tastings do between chocolatiers and artisanal roasters.
Expect to see more of this trend. The more educated people get about chocolate, the more they want to understand how it contrasts with coffee.