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Coffee Timing At Dinner


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I've noticed that in Europe and European influenced locales, the tradition is to serve dessert first and then coffee.

I prefer coffee with my dessert - it seems to compliment and cut through the sweetness.

Too many times, overseas, I've requested coffee with my dessert only to suffer a raised eyebrow and a "with your desert, sir?" I always respond, "It's OK, I'm an American." (Ugly American??)

Otherwise I am reasonably well behaved at the table. Am I committing an unmannerly faux pas in my assault on European coffee sipping traditions?

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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...

Am I committing an unmannerly faux pas in my assault on European coffee sipping traditions?

Don't know. But if so, then there's at least two of us!

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

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Holly, I'm with you. I like to have coffee- or at a minimum, water, but coffee's better- with dessert, for exactly the same reason. Without an unsweet chaser, most desserts quickly get too cloying for me to enjoy.

I've never been hassled about it in Europe: but then, they probably just assume I'm an ugly American. A debonair international man of mystery like you, it comes as a surprise, I guess.

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Desert wines go with desert, not coffee.

But then the coffee is I guess milky weak Americano, not black expresso.

I suppose if you drink strong drink like Martini's before dinner it really doesn't matter what you do after...

Cheese before or after desert?

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Desert wines go with desert, not coffee.

But then the coffee is I guess milky weak Americano, not black expresso.

I suppose if you drink strong drink like Martini's before dinner it really doesn't matter what you do after...

Cheese before or after desert?

I don't drink but I also don't care what other people (European or otherwise) think about how/what I order at what time in a restaurant.

Dessert wines are not an option for me but I agree that coffee/espresso is an excellent pairing with desserts, as are still waters.

At one point in a different foruim I proposed that someone should offer a coffee and dessert flight - either a chocolate and espresso pairing featuring a variety of chocolate types and esespreso blends or perhaps demitasse cups of straight black varietals paired with appropriate samples of desserts. This latter pairing is more practical and with thermal press pots and demi tasse cups on a dessert cart would be easy enough to execute for parties of four.

Now that I have a real house again with a big kitcjen and space to entertain.... I may just do this some weekend when I throw a housewarming party.

I think cheese should be after dessert - definitely.

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  • 4 weeks later...

My uncle is a world traveled epicurean, and every time I'm with him, not only do I have absolutely fantabulous meals, but I learn something.

This year we went to his place in Rhinebeck NY for Christmas. We went out to lunch at a place in the mountains, and when it came for dessert, the waiter asked who wanted coffee or dessert.

:blink: Or???? I usually would order both at the same time....

So we ordered and my Uncle said that we would like our coffee served after our dessert course. Sounded reasonable to me.

We got them at the same time, and he had the coffee sent back. Service was not stellar, nor was the dessert, unfortunately. After we were done, they brought out (fresh) the coffee drinks that we had ordered and we sat and sipped the coffee and chatted for a while. I have to say I'm a new convert to coffee after dessert. It was a nice way to end the meal, relaxing, sipping, just appreciating the coffee, its flavor, its smell. Of course anything after those desserts would have been good... I know this is in another thread as well but what is up with all the crap desserts being served. :hmmm: Its gotten so bad that even I, who have a sweet tooth an elephant would be proud of, tend to not even bother and just order a cappy.

Cheese before meal please. Or cheese as meal. :rolleyes:

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The order I prefer is:

...principal course with wine, cheese with wine, pastry with sweet wine or sherry, coffee and then possibly after dinner drinks (if I don't fall out of my chair).

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Why not both? Coffee with dessert is good, coffee after dessert is also good. Assuming, of course, that the coffee is good. But then, I don't drink, so I often find myself having coffee where others might have wine or beer. Like if you substitute 'coffee' for 'wine' in LJC's list, that's not unusual for me. And no, I don't really give a damn if anyone thinks that's weird.

"I think it's a matter of principle that one should always try to avoid eating one's friends."--Doctor Dolittle

blog: The Institute for Impure Science

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But then, I don't drink, so I often find myself having coffee where others might have wine or beer. Like if you substitute 'coffee' for 'wine' in LJC's list, that's not unusual for me. And no, I don't really give a damn if anyone thinks that's weird.

I'm with you Moopheus. It's not unusual for me to order a cup of black coffee as an apertif (or digestif if you wil) before a meal but only if I know the coffee is good.

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I suppose if you drink strong drink like Martini's before dinner it really doesn't matter what you do after...

Cheese before or after desert?

A scurrilous slander. One martini before dinner puts a pleasant edge on the appetite and the alleged "numbing" effects are insignificant.

Not that you can get a decent martini in Europe.

Cheese before. So you can enjoy it with the last of the red wine.

Edited by Busboy (log)

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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It depends. Usually when we are dining out, it will be dessert then coffee.

At home when we entertain, quite often, after the main course, people want to "rest" before eating dessert. So I may serve coffee then, or perhaps people are finishing their wine. Then dessert, then coffee or more coffee. For me, a cheese plate is dessert, since I don't eat a lot of sweet things. Unless I'm serving a single plated dessert, I'll put a selection of cheeses and desserts out and people can choose along with a selection of Port and liqueurs. And I quite often have cheeses as an hor d'ouvre (really gotta get a spell check here :biggrin: )

And is it decaf coffee in the evening or Hi test? :rolleyes:

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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My mother went on a bus tour of Europe with a group from a local town where the custom was to drink coffee with the meal. The trouble you have in getting your coffee exactly when you want it pales in comparison to their difficulties.

They were not happy campers.

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i think there's some sort of logic in the european (french?) way. you build up your meal to a crescendo of flavour and taste - and salt - and then, when your palate can hardly take more of that, you switch to dessert (and more wine, this time preferably with a high level of acidicy if the dessert is very sweet). by the time that is finished, you will often be in a state where the choice is beween taking a nap - or having good strong coffee to restore you. a cigar - or even a cigarette - may help, too!

as for having something sweet, like chocolate, with my coffee - no thanks. i've already added sugar to it. and really, cake is much better with tea.

christianh@geol.ku.dk. just in case.

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as for having something sweet, like chocolate, with my coffee - no thanks. i've already added sugar to it. and really, cake is much better with tea.

That's actually a good point--if you sweeten your coffee that would make a big difference in how it goes with dessert. I usually have mine black; if it seems to need sugar that means the coffee's no good. And that really just goes for Western restaurants--in Asian restaurants (probably 80% of my dining out) I'll usually go with the tea.

"I think it's a matter of principle that one should always try to avoid eating one's friends."--Doctor Dolittle

blog: The Institute for Impure Science

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People can certainly do what they want... I am a Pastry Chef and I do not develop desserts to be paired with coffee. Coffee is a very strong flavor and will overwhelm many tastes. My opinion is that coffee comes after dessert.

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nothing goes better with cheesecake than coffee.

i'm surprised that so many restaurants in the US take their time to get the coffee out. i don't think it's because they think it's "correct", or that they're following some sort of European tradition. i think they're just lazy and can't get it straight.

so yeah, i like my coffee with dessert.

Edited by tommy (log)
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if you sweeten your coffee that would make a big difference in how it goes with dessert. I usually have mine black; if it seems to need sugar that means the coffee's no good.

talleyrand and me, we don't aggree (you know, "sweet, strong and black").

flavour apart, a good espresso is dominated by the bitterness with some acidity below that. adding sugar makes for a nice balance. i don't think it's coincitental that the little paper bag(?) they serve you with your espresso in a good bar is exactly of the size needed.

and besides, karen s is damn right.

christianh@geol.ku.dk. just in case.

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My first reaction if a restaurant serves me coffee along with dessert is that they're trying to hurry me out the door. If it's a good restaurant, this gets on my nerves. Funnily, I'd never stopped to think that some people might actually prefer the two to come together, unless they were in a hurry - so thanks for setting out the alternative point of view.

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People can certainly do what they want... I am a Pastry Chef and I do not develop desserts to be paired with coffee. Coffee is a very strong flavor and will overwhelm many tastes. My opinion is that coffee comes after dessert.

There is a whole culinary tradition of sweet things to serve with cofee, such as Petit four or Friandise. In some traditions spoons of sweet jam or preserves are served ...and of course a good cigar. You forgo these pleasures if you have coffeee throughout the meal.

That said I usually have (except when eating formally) a large mug of coffee (iced in hot weather) on the go. I drink maybe half a gallon a day, and its a favourite beverage when in the heat of the kitchen.

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Even with a bit of sugar, an espresso tends to completely overwhelm any dessert of reasonable subtlety, IMO. In France I sometimes had trouble getting coffee after dessert, because the helpful waiter would assume that, as an American, I would want them together. In nicer places in the U.S. I just specify the order and haven't had any problems. Now if I could just get them to bring the dessert wine not with dessert!

Walt

Walt Nissen -- Livermore, CA
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and of course a good cigar. You forgo these pleasures if you have coffeee throughout the meal.

I grew up with a cigar-smoker in the house; I'll never be able to regard is anything but a filthy, nasty habit. It really spoils my appetite if there's one in the room when I'm eating.

Well, it's not always coffee--sometimes I'll just have soda or water, or of course a lassi in an Indian restaraunt, with spiced tea after.

Okralet said:

flavour apart, a good espresso is dominated by the bitterness with some acidity below that.

Actually, I would disagree with that; a good espresso should not be overly bitter. Bitterness in coffee means that the beans are overextracted, regardless of brewing method.

"I think it's a matter of principle that one should always try to avoid eating one's friends."--Doctor Dolittle

blog: The Institute for Impure Science

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