I was delighted when Cafédirect invited me to an evening of Coffee Tasting and Desserts - two of my favourite things! The event was held at L’Atelier de Chefs Cookery School in Central London.
The Masterclass, where we learned the art of coffee tasting - or more correctly "cupping", was led by the very tall, handsome and knowledgeable Thierry who truly has the best slurp I have ever heard.
We tested three Cafédirect single origin fairtrade coffees. Aaaaaahh coffee! How much do I love thee?! During The Masterclass the lovely Thierry explained that there are 7 areas of interest when cupping coffee. The 7 areas are:
Fragrance - This is the smell of the coffee before water is added. After shaking each cup of coffee grounds we inhaled through our nose, exhaled through our mouth and desperately tried not to sniff up, or blow away, any coffee grounds.
Aroma - This is the smell of the coffee after water has been added. Hot water was added to each cup, and the coffee left to brew for 3 minutes. With the back of a spoon we had make a scooping motion backwards three times and inhale the aroma. Thankfully I managed to do this without slopping coffee on the table or getting my hair in it as we had to get our noses REALLY close and have a decent sniff.
Acidity, Body, Flavour, Aftertaste and Balance (how everything comes together) which all conveniently come under Taste - We had to carefully use two spoons to clear away any foam from the top of the cups before we got to savour mouthfuls of the delicious coffees. To properly taste the coffee you have to slurp it up like a turbo hoover without choking on it, easier said than done. *cough, splutter* Apparently, similar to wine tasting, the idea is to quickly draw a small amount of coffee into your mouth whilst drawing in air so the flavours are properly released. You then move it around your mouth, let it rest on your tongue briefly, and spit it out gracefully into a cup. Yeah right! I drunk it, there is no such thing as wasting perfectly good coffee in my world! LOL I don't think I shall be slurping and swooshing coffee in my local Costa or Cafe Nero, best save that bit of fun for the privacy of my own home where the only people who will be looking at me strangely will be my own family - no change there then!
During the tasting process I found the body easiest to define, but articulating the flavours was quite difficult. Partly due to not having a sufficiently posh coffee tasting vocabulary words and partly due to my tastebuds being used to a wide range of *cough* cheap high street coffees *cough*
Now, on to the puddings!
Before our cupping Masterclass we were paired up and challenged to create a dessert to match one of the three coffees we would be tasting. We were given a bag of ingredients that matched the flavours of the coffee and asked to create a delicious dessert. No pressure but the Head chef of the cookery school Andre Dupin and our coffee tasting expert Thierry were going to judge the desserts once they had been made.
I was paired with the lovely Emma who blogs at Poiresauchocolat and is currently studying Pâtisserie at the Cordon Bleu School in London. I hadn't prepared a recipe but happened to have my famous chocolate brownie recipe in my head (I wonder why!) so we used that. To compliment the delicous chocolate brownies we were baking, we were given some Machu Picchu coffee. This deep flavoured, rich tasting coffee is produced at altitudes of 1500-2000m in the Valle de la Convencion, deep within the Inca heartland of the Andes, and close to the sacred city it's named after. It has a full-bodied, easy drinking flavour, and as the lovely Thierry said, it is the red wine of coffee - it certainly went down well with me LOL
These are the chocolate walnut brownies that we baked:
Here are the other delicious puddings that were made on the night:
Rhubarbandrose and 21stcenturyhousewife (Also known as Team April) matched Mayan Palenque coffee with Spiced Vanilla and Honey Cake.
What Kate Baked and Food for Think matched Kilimanjaro coffee with Dried fruit chocolate bark
Fuss Free Flavours and A lovely lady who won a competition to be there also matched Kilimanjaro coffee with their dessert of Apple filo strudel with lemon and lime posset
Slow Food Kitchen and Tales of Pigling Bland matched Machu Picchu coffee with a Flourless Chocolate cake accompanied by almond and pecan praline
It was a really enjoyable evening and learning more about Cafédirect coffee was fabulous, especially the "cupping" process that now means I can savour coffee more than I did before. Of course it's always great to meet other foodie bloggers, some who I am getting to know well, and others I had never met before.
A HUGE thank you to Cafédirect for their fabulous hospitality. You can find loads of delicious recipes on their website, as well as chatting to them on Twitter and Facebook.