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Food Innovations Blog

Coffee

May 3, 2012

In the culinary world coffee is one of the most important tools next to a properly sharpened chef’s knife and a functioning cooking battery.  Coffee can help keep the driver awake on a long trip, bring friends together, and most importantly give a chef the pick-me-up needed to get back to work after spending 18 hours, the day before, in the kitchen.

Coffee was once a drink served at the breakfast table.  Today coffee is being consumed by friends in the afternoon at their favorite coffee house or late at night cramming for a test.  Most importantly coffee has been found in marinades, sauces and chili.  The use of coffee in chef-created dishes will help to produce depth and influence flavor, as well as adding a bit of acidity depending on the roast and growing region.  Roasting begins around 390 degrees Fahrenheit.  The high temperature breaks down the starch and caramelizes the bean to produce some fairly intense roasted notes that can intensify the flavor of the maillard browning process in cooking.

The processing of coffee begins with the traditional method of picking the beans at the peak of ripeness.  Today most beans are picked without regard to ripeness.  Once picked, the beans are sorted by color and the flesh removed and allowed to ferment.  Coffee beans are then washed to remove any fermentation residue and allowed to dry.  The green coffee beans are then sorted and sold to roasters around the world.  There are 4 levels of roast: light, medium, medium-dark, and dark.  Lighter roasts are typically more complex in flavor due to the aromatic oils that remain present after the roasting process.  As beans become darker, the aromatic oils are destroyed and become bolder in flavor and less complex.  Understanding the flavor development and loss in roasting will allow chefs to create products with tremendous depth and flavor.

We could go on for quite awhile on the nuances and processing of coffee.  Instead, I raise a cup of Kopi Luwak to coffee lovers out there.

 

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