Coffee: Did You Know It’s a Dynamic New Cooking Spice?

If you’re a chef and in the know, you are probably acquainted with using coffee as a dynamic new cooking spice. If so, realize that you are standing on the edge of a growing new trend and your food creations are reaching ‘next level’ status.

As a creative culinary artist, you typically separate yourself as a chef by experimenting and stretching the bounds of your imagination by developing new realms for your art form. The results show up on the faces of those who eat your creations.

Using coffee as a cooking spice is a wondrous discovery. Considering the characteristics, taste subtleties, strength variances and different ways in which it can be used (the whole bean, as a liquid or grounded), it has created new breakthroughs for many dishes.

WHY COFFEE?

Coffee is arguably the world’s most popular drink. It is plentiful and yields enough different flavor profiles to be the perfect crossover agent and find its way to the list of ingredients associated with food recipes.

QUESTIONS ABOUT THE NEW SPICE

The natural questions about coffee as a recipe ingredient are:

1. Will it make my food taste like the drink?

2. Will it dominate the other herbs and spices that I use?

3. Will it mask or ultimately change the flavor essence of my food?

To answer question number one, the growing list of chefs who cook with coffee as an ingredient have realized the natural rich, nutty and/or smoky flavors that have contributed to taking their dishes over the top. The note to remember is that your recipes should reflect coffee’s presence as a spice in the cooking process.

As it relates to dominating other herbs and spices, you’ll have to experiment if you are independently converting your favorite recipes. For recipes that you’ll pick up via cookbooks or data bases, the ratio of coffee in your recipes have been worked out for you. As such, coffee as an ingredient will enhance the flavor profile of your dishes if used properly. Some recipes call for the coffee to be added as you would drink it (brewed), but some require the use of the whole bean or added in granulated form.

Regarding whether or not coffee will mask or change the flavor essence of your food, you should remember that spices serve to enhance flavor profiles in your food. Note that the lighter roasts are more delicate and are generally more acidic. The darker roasts are stronger and more robust and therefore work best in dishes where they must hold their own against other powerful flavors.

Coffee, the Aromatic Beverage That Moves the World

The process begins approximately one year before the seed is planted. Men and women walk through the plantations in the heat picking small bags of red ripe fruits from the coffee bushes. Each bag is tagged with the number that identifies the bush. Thousands of these fruits are picked to be dried and later roasted. After grinding each bag of dry, roasted seeds the coffee is made. Then the experts come in, they are called “baristas” they are like wine sommelier but they specialize in coffee. Out of all the bags and lots they chose the most aromatic, strong and better looking coffees. The bushes from where these seeds came are marked and protected with nets to keep the birds away and it is time to wait.

The coffee beans on these plants are not harvested like those in the rest of the plantation; they are allowed to ripen until they fall from the bush when they reach full maturity. The next step is the nursery. A special mix of soil is put into polyethylene bags and two seeds are dropped in each one. They will be given special care under regulated shade for the next year. Usually both seed germinate but only the strongest one, the one with more leaves and thicker trunk will be left, the other will be discarded. They are watered and fertilized every two weeks. They are also inspected closely if any disease shows up on them they are also discarded.

During the year and a half it takes for them to grow enough to be planted on their permanent home men are working take branches of the trees that will protect the new plants from the sun. They dig trenches where the plants will live filling them up with rotten leaves and other organic material. The brush is uprooted and grass is planted instead of it, plastic hose irrigation systems are installed and connected to the plantation can be watered by one or two men at any time. Huge pieces of land are cleared of debris, fallen trees and bushes. From afar the land looks like a majestic stairway going up a mountain in the middle of the early morning fog.

The plants are now ready to move to their new home, there is another round of selection and only the best are transplanted into the ditches where the organic fertilizer was buried. Thousands upon thousands of little plants are tenderly transplanted until the first phase is finally complete. For the next three years they will be fed with organic materials, watered from cold, clear and clean mountain spring water and kept surrounded by a carpet of green luscious grass. Only authorized personnel are allowed into the new area and they wear clothes into which they change before entering the plantation. Disease and dangerous bugs wait to destroy it.

Near the end of the second year the plants flower for the first time, beautiful, delicate white flowers, and the sweet smell of their pollen fills the air and the bees buzz from plant to plant. These flowers are removed as soon as possible. The plants are not ready to produce coffee beans, they need to mature more, grow stronger. Another year goes by and the cycle of life repeats itself, the flowers bloom, the bees come back and this time Nature is allowed to follow its course. Three months later the bushes are filling up with green coffee beans. As the rainy season passes and the dry season starts again the green mountains start to change into shades of yellow, orange and red. Collection begins and only the red beans are hand-picked. For one more month men, women and children walk around the bushes picking the red beans. After one month the remaining green and yellow beans are picked and thrown out.

The beans are then taken to the mills where using water the skin is removed leaving behind the brown seeds. The seeds are then dried under the sun on huge cement floors where they are moved around with wooden rakes so they dry evenly. The drying areas are on the flatlands and can be as big as two or three football fields. The coffee beans are put out in the sand in the early morning and are bagged again while the sun is setting. When the majority of them have reached 40% humidity they are taken to the selection rooms where they are again classified for color and size. This is the coffee that is roasted and ground to perfection. This is the coffee that is bagged and sent all over the world so you can have that special pick-me-up every morning.

COFFEE: Myths, Trivia and Facts

Coffee is a subject that many consumers love but don’t talk much about. As a result, coffee has generated its fair share of myths and trivia.

Let’s look at the some of the facts regarding the myths and trivia.

For Your Information…

COFFEE HOUSES AND SHOPS

Coffee houses and shops are a modern invention, right? Wrong! King Charles II of England initiated a ban on coffee houses in 1675. He feared that his enemies were meeting in these establishments to plot against him.

MOCHA = CHOCOLATE

Wrong. Most people associate mocha with a chocolate-coffee combination but the reality is that “Mocha” is the name of a port in Yemen. Coffee beans from Africa are transported through this port. “Mocha” has more to do with the origin of the beans than whether or not it contains chocolate.

US CITIZENS CONSUME MORE COFFEE THAN ANYONE ELSE

True! US citizens love their coffee and consume some 400 million cups of java every day.

ESPRESSO, CAPPUCCINO AND LATTE

Espresso does not refer to a type of coffee bean. It refers to the way coffee is prepared. Espresso is made by forcing a small amount of hot water through very finely ground beans. This process produces a highly concentrated form of coffee.

Cappuccino and lattes are coffee drinks made with espresso as the base. Cappuccino refers to the frothy, peaked, white topping that resembles the white hood of the Capuchin friar’s habit. On the other hand, latte is made with espresso and steamed milk without the topping.

COFFEE COMES FROM VINES GROWN IN THE GROUND

Wrong! Coffee grows on trees that can live up to 100 years. Each tree yields about one pound of coffee a year once they start producing beans (sometime during their fifth year). It takes approximately 2000 raw coffee beans to make a pound of coffee.

WHERE DID A “CUP OF JOE” COME FROM?

In the early 1900s, Admiral Josephus “Joe” Daniels banned alcohol on all Navy ships. As a result, sailors turned to coffee as their drink of choice. The sailors ultimately coined the term ‘a cup of Joe’ when referring to coffee in remembrance of his restrictions on alcohol.

ONE BEAN OR TWO?

Did you know that coffee berries or raw coffee beans are round and smooth. During the roasting process, they split in half. So the coffee beans you see in a package of un-ground coffee are actually half-beans.

WHAT’S THE CONNECTION BETWEEN OIL AND COFFEE?

Next to oil, coffee is the second largest traded commodity in the world.

COFFEE CAN BOOST MEMORY

Studies indicate that this is not a myth. In 2005, a study indicated that coffee does improve memory. A subsequent study not ony supported the initial results but concluded that the memory enhancing effects could be long-term.

COFFEE IS A DELICIOUS AND EFFECTIVE COOKING SPICE: RIGHT OR WRONG

Surprising as it is, the statement is true. Though considered a new spice, chefs and cooks in the know have used coffee as a spice for some time. Whether used as an ingredient in main dishes, cakes, pies, ice creams or rubs, clash royale free gems coffee can create a whole new level of deliciousness in your dishes.