Posted June 21, 2007 4:10 p.m. EDT
Updated June 22, 2007 10:55 a.m. EDT
I just got back from a coffee tasting at the Starbucks on Peace Street in Raleigh.
I have to preface all of this with the fact that I really don't like coffee at all. I don't like hot drinks, in general -- hot chocolate, hot tea, boiling Jell-o water before it sets. I don't like a drink I can't consume in big gulps.
Hence, the magic of coffee, the spell it has cast on millions of people, has passed by me. It also made the tasting event an unusual experience. As someone who hasn't tried a cup of coffee in about five years (and it came from a jar), I was a blank slate.
We tried three kinds of coffee, a Colombian coffee, one from Sulawesi (an island near Sumatra in the Pacific) and another from Yemen called Arabian Mocha Sanani. These were pure coffees -- not blends.
I should say that tasting coffee property does not consist of knocking back a cup of it. No, no. You "cup" it first, holding the coffee so your fingers capture the aromas. Take a deep breath. Then, you slurp it. It's kind of a sucking slurp, spraying to coffee over your tongue. We tasted it completely dark -- just the coffee. No cream or sweetener to take off that edge. The coffee coats your tongue, much like tannins in wine.
I wish the experience hadn't been wasted on my uninitiated palate. I only really detected varying degrees of bitterness among the coffees. That said, each coffee did have a different taste. I thought the Sulawesi had the boldest flavor. I think I could detect the "herbal" notes of Arabian Mocha Sanani.
We also paired the coffee with different foods. Walnuts went with the Colombian. The Sulawesi coffee went with rosemary crackers, goat cheese and salami. But the most remarkable effect was from pairing the Arabian Mocha Sanani with a dark chocolate that included a mild chili. The coffee brought out an orange ring in the chocolate. It was noticeable and pleasant.
They also let me make a raspberry mocha frappuccino. I'd never had a frappuccino before (don't laugh, please), and I can see why people like it.
So, if you're a coffee drinker, you should experiment with food pairings. I've included some links to get you started.
I'll be up bright and early tomorrow morning, starting my day with a glass of crisp, refreshing Diet Coke.