Coffee. I love the stuff. Give me a creamy strong Flat White in the morning and I’m happy for the day. But although I love the taste, my knowledge is pretty limited.
So I was glad to be invited to a coffee tasting by Café Direct last week. Despite the event being held at L’Atelier des Chefs, I didn’t realise that we would be donning our aprons and showing off our baking prowess. I was half an hour late and when I arrived to a flurry of bloggers running around the kitchen, cracking eggs, melting chocolate and frantically beating butter and sugar, I was confused.
I then learned that everyone had paired off and each ‘team’ had been given one of three Café Direct coffees and been asked to create a dish using a host of ingredients provided. I was paired with the lovely Kate from What Kate Baked who had decided, after watching a recent Nigel Slater programme, to make chocolate bark using dried fruit, nuts and fair-trade dark chocolate. I was quite happy with this as I had made it before for Msmarmitelover’s underground Christmas Market last year.
We seemed to have an easier job than everyone else – all we did was melt three chocolate bars, pour it onto a baking tray and sprinkle dried fruit and chopped nuts on top before placing to cool in the fridge.
While the chocolate was cooling, we were treated to a tasting session with Thierry Akroman, Café Direct’s tasting expert. Here are a few of the useful nuggets of information I learned:
– Coffee usually grows around the equator
– Café Direct buys coffee direct from their suppliers. That way they know exactly what they’re getting and are able to pass the knowledge onto us, the consumer
– Brazil is the number one coffee producer in the world. Vietnam is the second
– Americans drink the most coffee in the world (no surprise there!)
– The difference between fragrance and aroma – the fragrance comes before you add water and aroma is generated when you add the boiling water, which releases all of the gasses
After the tasting, Thierry and a resident L’atelier chef tasted each creation and decided on a winner – the team that best matched their coffee with the ingredients available. The winners were 21st Century Housewife and Rhubarb & Rose with their spiced vanilla and honey cakes.
We were lucky enough to be given a bag of Café Direct coffee to take home with us. I’ll soon be able to enjoy the vanilla flavours of Mayan Palenque, the smoother chocolatey Machu Pichu and the citrus flavours of Kilamanjaro. What a lovely way to start the day.
Our chocolate bark recipe
200g Chocolate (we used Divine Dark Chocolate)
50g chopped dried apricots
50g hazelnuts, chopped
50g walnuts, chopped
1. Prepare a baking sheet by greasing and lining the sheet with parchment paper
2. Melt the chocolate in a glass bowl suspended over a gently simmering pan of water
3. Once melted, pour the chocolate onto the prepared baking sheet
4. Lightly scatter the fruit and nuts over the chocolate
5. Place the chocolate in the fridge to set