Monday, March 14, 2016

The two C - coffee and cigar

Coffee and cigar - a combo that goes together very well. As I wrote a lot about cigars on this blog over the last years I wanna focus first a little bit on the other C, the coffee...

The first mentioning and recognizing of coffee goes back to the year 850 where it was a guy in nowadays Ethopia who discovered the vitalizing power of that wonderful fruit. It should another approx. 800 years before it came to Europe. Even though the original root is in Africa, most of the coffee that we drink now is grown in South America: Brasil, Columbia, Guatemala but some still comes also from Ethopia and Angola. To be precise it has to be mentioned that those countries grow the Arabica, the Robusto comes from countries like Indonesia, India, Vietnam, Uganda and Ivory Coast.

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An important step of the coffee production is the roasting which gives the coffee beans their distinctive taste. Just around a corner from my home there is a roastery which is family-run now in the third generation, luckily I know them and due to this I was able to have an insight view behind the scenes of the traditional craftsmanship that they are doing at Cretti.

Everything's still very traditional here: old machinery from the former owner and still the metal bowl where the coffee beans are roasted over an open fire. In the older days it's a wood fire, nowadays it's gas or oil fired but the key is the bowl itself as this method gives a very characteristic taste to the coffee. Another key component is the roasting time: time is money therefore a lot of big roasters try to shorten the roasting time as much as possible. This ends up with a lot of acids in the coffee, a taste that you will never have when buying a Cretti coffee. Roasting time is more than one hour which gives the coffee a strong and intensive taste but it mellows down the acidity on the other hand.

At Cretti a lot of things are done manually. Filling the metal bowl with the beans, checking the quality of the roasting during the process by checking the color, pouring them out on a perforated metal sheet and raking them while they're cooling. All those steps end up in a handcrafted quality product.

In the meantime their coffee is the standard in my machine even though I try some different stuff from time to time... I also use their relatively new capsules in the Nespresso machine that we've in the office, as this coffee is definitely much better than all that Nespresso stuff.

Let's go the tasting of the coffee and the combos with the cigars.

First in the row, an Ethopian coffee called Caffe TO.MO.CA that a colleague from work brought me from a business trip to Addis Abeba, Ethopia. A very dark roasting with a very intensive smell. The beans are dark and after a while you can see a decent oiliness on them. Let's grind and brew it, I'm curious for the taste.

Tastewise this coffee is definitely on the rich and earthy side. Dark caramel, nougat and leather combined with some toasted notes and hints of lemon grass, no acid aroma. The cigar to combined with it should be of the same kind and what would be better than one of those Bolivar Petit Coronas from 1998. They also have that characteristic citrus note on strong earthy base... the combo of those two was just a intensification of flavors. I really liked it and can definitely recommend it!

The second coffee I tried is the one I have in my daily use, the Espresso from Cretti. Due to the roasting time of more than one hour this coffee also has non of that acidic taste that you can find in many standard coffees. This one is also very rich and earthy but not as intensive as the Caffe TO MO CA. The profile consists of smoky, malty and woody flavors added by decent notes of tobacco. I paired this coffee with a Punch Exquisitos from the mid 80s. The aromas of dark coffee and earthiness (added by some spicy notes) of the cigar complimented very well the flavor of the espresso and it's just a consequence to take a second one to enlongen the pleasure...

The list of possible combos could be continued and I'm sure that there would be lots of good pairings but I think the conclusion can be also drawn now: cigars and coffee go together very well, try it and I'm sure that you'll find some really great combos!