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Cafédirect Coffee Matching Masterclass

October 18, 2011

Update: you can now win a cookery master class at L’Atelier des Chefs if you have your own try at coffee matching. Details here

Cafédirect were kind enough to invite me and a bevvy of bloggers to their coffee matching masterclass at L’Atelier de Chefs. You can read their write up here.

Guided by Thierry, we learned the art of coffee tasting, or “cupping” as it is correctly known.

We tested three Cafédirect single origin fairtrade coffees. I love coffee and like to think I have some idea of how much they can vary in flavour and use, but this showed me that I’m only beginning. Some coffees are comforting and friendly (Machu Picchu), some are hard work, but rewarding as the flavour keeps delivering new tones (Mayan Palenque) and others are refreshing and demand to be drunk at a much cooler temperature (Kilimanjaro)

Thierry explained that there are seven things to look for when cupping coffee:

  • Fragrance (this is the smell of the ground coffee pre-water)
  • Aroma (the smell after water is added)
  • Acidity
  • Body
  • Flavour
  • Aftertaste
  • Balance (how everything comes together)

Fragrance After shaking each cup we inhaled through the nose, exhaled through the mouth and desperately tried to match Thierry’s olfactory excellence.

Aroma Hot water was added to each cup, left for 3 minutes and then with the back of a spoon we had to scoop backwards three times and inhale the aroma.

Tasting After using two spoons to clear any foam, it was time to assess the other 5 attributes. To do this we had to slurp our coffee in a very unladylike fashion. Much like wine tasting (so I’m told!) the idea is to quickly draw a small amount of the coffee into your mouth whilst also drawing in air so that the flavours are released. After moving it around your mouth and letting it rest on your tongue you can expel the coffee (though we all drank ours). I found the body the easiest to recognise, but found the flavours hard to explain – partly due to not having the words and partly due to my undeveloped tasted buds.

Now, back to the baking…

Before our cupping tutorial we were put into pairs and challenged to create a dessert to match one of the three coffees using a bag with “hero ingredients” (rather like the Ready Steady Cook quickie bag challenge). I was paired with May from SlowFoodKitchen who had come armed with a recipe for flourless chocolate cloud cakes from Ferran Adrià’s The Family Meal. To compliment this dessert we opted for the Machu Picchu coffee, which is produced at altitudes of 1500-2000m in the Valle de la Convencion, deep within the Inca heartland of the Andes and close to the sacred city it takes its name from. It was my favourite coffee of the three for it’s full-bodied easy drinking flavour. As Thierry said, it is the red wine of coffee.

Hero ingredients for Cafedirect’s Machu Picchu single origin fairtrade ground coffee

Here’s what everyone made (scroll down to see photos and more text):

Rhubarbandrose & 21stcenturyhousewife: Mayan Palenque + Spiced Vanilla and Honey Cake (recipe here)
Utterlyscrummy & Poireschocolat: Machu Picchu + Incredible Chocolate Brownies
Katecakeandbake & Foodforthink Kilimanjaro + Dried fruit chocolate bark (recipe here)
Fussfreeflavours & A lovely lady who won a competition to be there: Kilimanjaro + Apple filo strudel with lemon and lime posset (see write up here)
SlowFoodKitchen & Gillbla: Machu Picchu + Flourless Chocolate cake with almond and pecan praline

Honey Cake


Dried Fruit Bark

Strudel and Posset

Flourless Chocolate Cake

Head chef Andre Dupin and Thierry judged the desserts and rightly crowned Team April (aka Rhubarbandrose and 21stCentury Housewife) the winners. I can guarantee that their honey cake recipe will be making an appearance in my kitchen soon as it was utterly delicious and the idea of putting a tiny bit of the coffee into the sponge meant that it matched the coffee perfectly. They were rewarded with a hamper full of goodies.

It was great to learn more about Cafédirect and to meet everyone. I felt rather in awe of all the experienced bloggers and bakers there, which led me to do my normal nervous trick of overcompensating by talking too much and too loudly, so sorry everyone!

The contents of the goodie-bag we got to take home. Yum!

The contents of the goodie-bag we got to take home. Yum!

4 Comments leave one →
  1. October 18, 2011 5:27 pm

    Awesome write up Gill x

  2. October 18, 2011 6:48 pm

    It was great to meet you and to cook with you Gill. Will get the recipe for the flourless chocolate cake up soon.

  3. October 19, 2011 10:48 am

    Lovely write up! It was great to meet you, Gill. And by the way, I don’t remember you talking too much (or too loudly) at all!!

  4. November 8, 2011 12:37 am

    Gill, I have finally managed to type up the recipe here :

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