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Choosing the Right Coffee for the Occasion


Serving the perfect wine with a special meal is an art. But what about the coffee you are serving? Your coffee should complement your food in the same way wine would. A Kenyan coffee that sizzles with your breakfast bacon will fizzle when paired with a rich and sweet dessert.

As a general rule of thumb, South American and Hawaiian coffees are mild and smooth in flavor. These coffees pair well with lighter meals, light desserts and seasonal meals of Spring and Summer. African coffees are generally richer and more full bodied and lend themselves to hearty, but not heavy meals and to desserts that are rich, but not chocolaty or gooey sweet. Indonesian coffees are the perfect fit for those sinfully rich or extra sweet desserts that need a very full bodied and deep flavored coffee to match the intensity of such a dessert. Dark roasted coffees like French Roast, Full City Roast, and Espresso are not only ideal, but necessary for anything that is chocolate.

Breakfast is a special time for coffee, and the one you drink will set your mood for the rest of the day. With traditional bacon and eggs, we recommend a Kenyan AA or Colombian Supremo. These coffees have full flavor and snappy acidity needed to "finish" the eggs and bacon. Lighter breakfast foods like muffins, fruit or waffles will taste even better with a cup from Guatemala.

Desserts are the important finalé to any great meal; selecting the right coffee will enhance your dessert and bring a satisfying conclusion to a very special evening. Light desserts, such as simple cakes, cookies, soufflés, or fruit-filled pies will be complimented by well balanced and medium bodied Central American coffees such as Guatemalan, Brazilian or El Salvadoran.

Sumatra Mandheling and Ethiopian are the perfect partners for your Holiday desserts like pumpkin pie, pecan pie, mincemeat pie, or plum pudding. Any dessert with a liquor in it like tiramisu, Italian rum cake, or Irish whiskey cake will be also enhanced with Sumatra Mandheling, Ethiopian Yirgachef or Celebes Kalossi. These coffees additionally have the interesting and unusual taste profile to detract your guests from noticing that they are eating that much-maligned fruitcake.

Any form of chocolate is the richest and most decadent form of dessert. For these types of desserts, you need a coffee with a strong, powerful flavor. Dark roasted coffees and dark roast blends are a must for any kind of chocolate dessert. The more chocolate a dessert has, the stronger the coffee you should serve. A light chocolate drizzled eclair would pair nicely with a blend of ½ French Roast and ½ Mocha Java Harrar. However, for killer chocolate cake, nothing but espresso could stand up to such intense flavors. Chocolate truffle cakes and tortes are complimented perfectly by a Full City or Sumatra Cafe Roast. Slightly lighter chocolate desserts like a Mousse or chocolate soufflé would be enhanced by a lighter French Roast.

Coffee can be a dessert by itself by adding liquors, spices, cream, and whipped cream. We suggest that you always use at least a full bodied African or Indonesian coffee, with the ideal coffee for these recipes being a dark roast or dark roast blend. Liquors will automatically water down the flavor of any coffee, so be sure to brew whatever coffee you use to an extra strong strength.

Whatever coffee you decide to buy to accompany your meals and desserts, be sure you grind it just before brewing and never let your brewed coffee sit on the warming plate for more than 20 minutes. Use the proper amount of coffee; at least 1 tablespoon for each cup. This amount will give you the rich, full flavor experience each coffee has to offer.