Grueling schedules and the daily hustle and bustle leave most people highly dependent on their standard caffeine fix to make it through the day.
Thursday morning was no exception, although this time, instead of gulping down a quick cuppa while heading out the door, we were courteously invited to enjoy a leisurely coffee and chocolate pairing at Bean There Coffee Company, South Africa’s first roaster of Certified Fairtrade coffee.
Bean There teamed up with their neighbour and popular organic chocolatier Honest Chocolate to provide a yummy yet educational experience in the art of cocoa and coffee bean blends. Before delving into the aromatic and appetising treats, we were first given some backstory about the very beginnings of these pioneering brands.
Bean There started in 2005 with their first branch in Johannesburg, and expanded to Cape Town by 2011. At the time, there was a noticeable gap in the market for single-origin, unblended coffee products and Bean There was the first to supply this. The aim was to allow people to get to know a single country or region through their coffees. Thus they ensure that the coffee beans they source always remain in the purest form possible.
By removing the option of blending coffees from all over the world, it takes away the luxury of being able to manipulate and improve the state of a coffee. Bean There source only the best, most exceptional quality coffee from the depths of Africa, through the means of direct fair trade.
Community development, sustainability, and empowerment are central to their business model, as well as their practice of bringing back amazing coffee to South African shores. “Africans should be drinking African coffee”, says Jonathan, founder and owner of Bean There. “We have some of the best, richest coffee in the world and we should enjoy it”.
A method of ‘optimal roast’ is another strategy which is used to differentiate their product from any other coffee brand. Each type of coffee has a certain point in the roasting process, whereby the key elements of acidity, body, aroma and flavour meet perfectly, resulting in the most desirable, optimal roast.
This artisanal chocolate company upholds the same ethos of rawness and purity of their coffee-pairing partners. Honest Chocolate was founded 7 years ago after the owner, Michael dabbled in a bit of experimentation with raw cocoa. Using organic ingredients and sourcing local and fair produce, they ensure that their chocolate offerings are recognized by their distinct taste and feel, which is achieved through the use of hand-crafted, old-school production methods.
Just as Bean There likes to keep their coffee pure and untampered with, so does Honest Chocolate with their aim to showcase the uniqueness and origin of every batch of cocoa beans by not over-flavouring or over sugaring.
This partnership made for a tasting that was truly expressive and potent on the palette.
The aim of the pairing was for the chocolate and coffee flavours to enhance and complement one another. There were three pairings, with the coffee originating from three different countries in Africa, while the chocolate possessed characteristics specifically suited for each one.
The coffee was served piping hot in a glass, with no added sugar or milk. Next to the glass on a wooden tray, they placed a dark chocolate truffle that was just the right size to gauge and appreciate the flavours, while not being overwhelming.
Pairing 1: Ethiopian Sidamo Coffee and Rose Geranium Truffle
This coffee had a rich, chocolaty base and velvet texture that coated the tongue. However, the heaviness was countered by sharp citrus notes and a light floral aftertaste of sweet Jasmine.
The floral notes were further enhanced by the vegan Rose Geranium truffle. As a replacement for dairy, coconut oil was a fundamental component, which gave the truffle a smooth silky texture and base onto which the coffee could bind. After a second sip, the subtle citrus notes were now much stronger but hints of vanilla still managed to emerge as a muted aftertaste once the chocolate had been dissolved.
Pairing 2: Tanzanian Coffee and Peanut Butter Cups
We were told that the Tanzanian coffee was the “lightest tasting coffee” that we would try. This made it perfect as a palette cleanser and a great partner to a truffle that was more rich and textured, which came in the form of a heavy peanut butter cup. The peanut butter truffle had a dryness that engulfed the mouth, creating the need for moisture after each bite. The silky texture of the coffee not only fulfilled this need, but its roasted nutty characteristics brought out the flavour of the chocolate. In this instance, the coffee was used to highlight the chocolate as opposed to the other around.
Pairing 3: Kenyan Coffee and Ginger Chocolate Truffle
Our final coffee tasting was of one that was the most complex – a good sign of a specialty coffee. The Kenyan coffee had a rich Blackberry aroma which we first smelt and sniffed before tasting. The ginger truffle provided a spicy tang that truly woke up the senses and amplified the fruity flavour of the coffee. In turn, the coffee made the chocolate juicier, allowing a smooth melt-in-the-mouth sensation.
Where 58 Wale Street, Cape Town
When Monday – Friday 7.30 am – 4 pm
Contact +27 (0) 87 943 2228, beanthere.co.za