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Pairing Cheese and Coffee?


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I'm putting together a gift basket for a couple of people who enjoy cheese. I took my first trip to a real cheese shop last night, and spent over an hour tasting cheeses to get the right ones. I ended up getting five different, strong cheeses:

- Cashel Blue

- Trou du Cru

- L'Ami du Chambertin (tastes like shellfish)

- Leyden

- Carré du Berry - sweet, with golden raisins instead of herbs

Now I'm thinking that, in addition to the cheeses, crackers, and other accompaniments, it would be nice to get some coffee that would go well with the cheese. These people aren't wine drinkers, and they also enjoy having a breakfast of cheese on bread or bagels, with the usual morning coffee on the side. I'm considering searching out a couple varieties of coffee that would go well with some of the cheeses.

Is this something I can pull off? Can I find coffee to pair with those cheeses? Any other ideas for accompaniments or pairings are certainly welcome.

-- There are infinite variations on food restrictions. --

Crooked Kitchen - my food blog

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This is in the 'other ideas' department.

Just wanted to suggest Martinelli's a sparkling apple juice non-alcoholic drink as an idea for you. It's in a champagne bottle so it looks the part and does very well in a gift basket. Available in grocery stores I should add. Maybe add some jelly too.

Just a bubbly idea for you.

Edited by K8memphis (log)
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  • 2 weeks later...

:biggrin:

Kona coffee is one of the gentlest and most delightful wake-ups I know, particularly brewed strong with generous amounts of cream and honey. One of the best sources I've used is:

http://www.wingskonacoffee.com/

This stuff will work, undiluted, with any creamy cheese like Brie -- particularly if you partner it with something sweet like dried apricots or tart like cranberries. I like to doctor it, but that's up to personal tastes.

:biggrin:

(Edited for a last minute spelling error.)

Edited by Lady T (log)

Me, I vote for the joyride every time.

-- 2/19/2004

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If you want to do something like this, and stick to one coffee, I'd say a good Kenyan, in a pinch, a good Yerg, or Sidamo could do the trick. I went through your links, and made a short list of descriptors and compared them to the typical profile of various regions.

For the blue, well, I have no idea, but the other 4, a big bodied Kenyan should work pretty well with the strong flavours of cheese, a lot of Kenyans will have really bold flavours, lots of spice, berry, and Kenyans can have great acidity. Kenyans tend to be a love or hate coffee - for some, the flavours are just too big, but with cheese, I think it will match nicely.

Best of luck. Now, you just need to find a good one.

Barrett Jones - 49th Parallel Coffee Roasters

Dwell Time - my coffee and photography site

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If you want to do something like this, and stick to one coffee, I'd say a good Kenyan, in a pinch, a good Yerg, or Sidamo could do the trick. I went through your links, and made a short list of descriptors and compared them to the typical profile of various regions.

For the blue, well, I have no idea, but the other 4, a big bodied Kenyan should work pretty well with the strong flavours of cheese, a lot of Kenyans will have really bold flavours, lots of spice, berry, and Kenyans can have great acidity. Kenyans tend to be a love or hate coffee - for some, the flavours are just too big, but with cheese, I think it will match nicely.

Best of luck. Now, you just need to find a good one.

Thanks for the interesting and well thought out suggestion. Can you say more about how you matched the cheese descriptors with the coffee region profiles? Were you looking for a contrast, balance or similarity?

Bold flavors do not bother me, but a great deal of acidity can -- in some Ethiopians, for example. But I'll have to try matching a Kenyan with one or more of these cheeses just to see.

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Thanks for the interesting and well thought out suggestion. Can you say more about how you matched the cheese descriptors with the coffee region profiles? Were you looking for a contrast, balance or similarity?

Bold flavors do not bother me, but a great deal of acidity can -- in some Ethiopians, for example. But I'll have to try matching a Kenyan with one or more of these cheeses just to see.

I followed the links laid out by the OP, and made a couple of notes on their taste:

Cashel Blue - it's blue!

Trou de Crou - straw

L'ami du Chambertain - shellfish and sharp (read: bold flavour)

Leyden - spicy!

Carré du Berry - Berries!

For the most part I went with similarity and balance of similar flavours - with something like cheese, too much contrast can leave your coffee tasting like dirt. Three of them immediately fit well with Kenya - bold flavour, spicy, and berries. Of course, not all Kenyans have these characteristics, but they are typical of the country.

As for the straw flavour of the Trou - well, I'd consider that a taint in coffee. There are a few taints - mold, ferment and bag among them. When coffee sits around too long in jute bags, it will eventually take on the flavour of them - which tastes like wet straw. I'm convinced that not everyone can taste this though, as even from a number of reputable roasters, we still get plenty of coffees from them that are baggy. (We buy bags whenever we're in Seattle, or other cities and taste them blind against our own.) So for that one, I chose to ignore that one, as chances are, if you're getting a bag of Kenyan, you've already got a good chance of getting straw in it. Kenya is one of the hardest countries to source from, as a lot of their coffees end up tainted. (I say this with the caveat that you can actually find good coffees from Kenya - whereas some countries, it seems actually impossible to find anything good. I have zero luck with Yemen, I've had one good Java in the last year, Colombia had a couple of bad harvests, which made it really hard to find anything good (the coming crop is looking promising)I have yet to taste something good from either China or Vietnam. Ethiopian Harrars *can* be good, but they are hard to find, and frequently have ferment flavours - but sometimes it works out. This is where the typical harrar blueberry flavour comes from.)

This past fall, I was watching the Canadian Barista Championship webcast, and I actually listened to one of the competitors describe their coffee as straw-like and barnyardy. :blink:

Kenyan coffees tend to be very winey. Some have that tannic dryness, and a lot of them have that gentle tartness common to reds. Other Africans can have these qualities as well - it's a product of terroir and the processing methods used, but I'd say that Kenyans as a whole have more winey characteristics than say Ethiopians.

On acidity:

First, it's important to establish that acidity is not about pH. I refer to that "high acidity" as garbage bin coffee. Acidity is the "sparkling" on the tongue, not unlike the sensation you get from citrus. But different. Acidity is partially inherent to the bean, and partially affected by the roasting process and age of your coffee. If you're getting 6 month old coffee, good luck finding acidity. Higher acidity coffees tend to be used for regular coffee - and lower acidity tend to be used as espresso. There is a bit of crossover though - a high acidity coffee @ 10% of a blend, could make a really nice espresso, but as a single origin, it could be like sucking on a lemon. Some roasters like that, some don't. Some roaster settings can also greatly affect acidity.

Coffees are sometimes marketed as "low acid" - and it's one of those horrible crossover terms that could mean two things, but in reality, probably means nothing.

Barrett Jones - 49th Parallel Coffee Roasters

Dwell Time - my coffee and photography site

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