December 5, 2012 by Beans Ahoy
So as the weather gets colder and Christmas approaches I thought it a good idea to do a coffee and chocolate match. Here at Beans Ahoy there is one thing we love almost (but not quite) as much as coffee, and that’s chocolate. If coffee is the drink of Gods, chocolate is the food.
Over the past year many types of chocolate have been sampled and put to the test. Consumed on their own, and combined with coffee, it has come time to decide which chocolate passes the test to be served to friends and family at Christmas with that post lunch coffee.
The winner this year is a classic. It has to be Lindt’s, A Touch of Sea Salt, from their Excellence range. Lindt might be one of the giants of the chocolate world, but that does not make their creation any less deserving of praise. They have got the mix of rich chocolate and sea salt just right, and it really is sea salt, which has a much more organic, rustic taste than table salt. It also off sets the bitterness of dark chocolate perfectly.
What is also great about Lindt’s dark chocolate in this bar is that they have kept the softness to the chocolate. Many dark chocolates start to loose their creamy texture and instead turn dry and crumbly when the cocoa content is pushed too high. There was no hint of this with Lindt.
Best paired with a full bodied coffee. This is the type of mixture for a night following a hearty meal of game and dark meats. There is a great Sumatra from Has Bean and it will play nicely off the salt and richer flavours of dark chocolate. For those of you wanting a Nespresso coffee, Livanto will taste fantastic.
Probably the toughest category as there is so much competition. We have therefore chosen two great milk chocolates. The first is Green & Black’s 34% which apart from being organic (I don’t really buy into this whole organic thing), has some very good quality cocoa in it. The chocolate is smooth and sweet, but retains a strong and refined taste. Very different to the bulk of milk chocolate like Cadbury, and is down to the higher quality ingredients and manufacturing process.
This chocolate combines superbly with the Nespresso Kona, but unfortunately the Nespresso Kona is almost impossible to get hold of now having sold out in a matter of hours in some stores. The other Kona’s available, such as that from Sea Island Coffee will also taste fantastic. Sticking with Sea Island Coffee, a similar mix would be with Blue Mountain Peaberry such as that I review last week. I found that to be an excellent coffee and it tastes great with the Green & Black milk chocolate.
The second chocolate to deserve a mention is the Ferrero Rocher. Yes it’s a cliché, but really they seem somewhat synonymous with Christmas. This can also be paired with the above coffees and produces an amazing taste with the Blue Mountain.
Really, you want to stick to coffees that are not going to over power the milk chocolate. Some of the lighter arabica taste will be lost to the taste of milk chocolate, and some of the heavier espresso’s will crush the flavour. Just as milk chocolate is middle of the road on cocoa intensity, your coffee should be middle of the road on intensity and body.
So white chocolate is a bit of a tough one. A lot of people don’t like it, and for good reason. Much of it is like eating a chemical bar of sugar. It lacks the richness of milk or dark chocolate, and often over powers you with sweetness. Enter Montezumas, Culture Shock chocolate bar. When I bought a selection of bars from Montezumas, I hadn’t actually realised that Culture Shock was a white chocolate. I assumed by glancing at the handsome blood orange box that anything with ginger and chili must be dark, or at least milk chocolate, shame on me for not reading the label.
However, I was really pleasantly surprised. Yes, it still tastes like white chocolate, but it is pretty decent quality white chocolate and the mix of ginger and chili was fantastic. You always taste the ginger, which blends really nicely with the chocolate, but you then get jolts of chili. It’s not burn your face off and roll around in pain hot though. It’s short, sharp, but slightly subtle chili taste. It shouldn’t be a problem even for the mildest of mouths to eat.
This chocolate mixed nicely with the lighter South and Central American arabicas, places like El Salvador, Costa Rica, Colombia, and Nicaragua. A particular favorite was to eat it with the Nespresso Rosabaya for a light, tangy, citrus flavour, but always with that rich spices flavour coming through later on from the chocolate.
There is a category for the supreme chocolate of the year and for the Christmas period. This is the chocolate that simple outshines everything else out there. Whether it is white, milk, or dark, the chocolate from Tristan in Switzerland is simply the top of the pile. The quality and taste of the chocolate is astonishing. Whether it is truffles, bars, pieces, or slabs it is brilliant. He uses natural ingredients to infuse taste producing some of the purest tasting chocolate out there. Chili, coffee, nuts, and even green tea flavour some of the chocolate.
There are some downsides however. (1) You will need to travel to Switzerland. Tristan does not export and he does not sell online. He is old fashioned that way, but people will literally line up around the corner to get in his shop during holiday periods. (2) You will need to find his shop, which is more of a house in a small Swiss village than a shop. He is in a town called Bougy-Villars in the Canton of Vaud, a picturesque town over looking Lake Geneva. (3) Take suitable spending power. Chocolate of this quality does not come cheap. (4) Don’t bother going on Sunday, Monday, or Tuesday. It’s closed.