It’s funny how often coffee and chocolate go together; it really is a taste that works well, and if you have the highest quality of coffee at your disposal, and a cracking bitter, dark chocolate, you’ll be left with a taste sensation. When you compare the two it is striking to see how similar some of the techniques are, with the differences making for a joyful experience.
Both chocolate and coffee have become popular the world over, it’s certainly high up the menu choices wherever in the world we’ve found ourselves. There is pretty much nowhere you can visit without seeing people sitting outside café’s sipping coffee, and chocolate is popular with children and adults alike from the sugary milk chocolate bars for young kids and the bitter dark chocolate favoured by those of a vintage variety.
The Origins of Coffee and Chocolate
Both coffee and cocoa (which chocolate is made from) are grown in similar countries. Within South and Central America you’ll find huge coffee plantations and cocoa farmers in Guatemala, Brazil, Colombia and Bolivia. In South East Asia there are big markets within Malaysia and Indonesia; and in Africa the same can be said in Nigeria, Ghana and Cameroon, as well as many other countries in the region.
Harvest by Hand
Cabossa is the name of the cocoa plant and to get the 25+ beans inside that need to be harvested the workers need to open them with a machete. This type of harvest is the same as it has been for as long as cocoa plants have been harvested, utilising hard graft and traditional methods. For coffee you can also have coffee cherries handpicked, but for larger plantations you will often find modern techniques and processes being used, such as machine harvesting to pick vast quantities of cherries in a short space of time.
Processing and Mixing
Once they have been harvested there are differing techniques in how chocolate and coffee is processed, and then mixed for public consumption. Coffee beans can be extracted in a number of ways, through wet, dry and washing processes, whilst cocoa seeds are almost always fermented first and then dried out. An imperative requirement is for decontamination to take place before mixing into another product, such as chocolate.
Coffee blends can be made using various types of coffee bean, and is an art form for those in the business. Creating a coffee blend isn’t straightforward; it requires patience and vision to create a distinct aroma and taste like no other. Chocolate on the other hand requires a completely different process before it is ready for consumption. It is kneaded into a paste and once silky goes through the phases of conching, refining, milking and lastly, alkalisation. After this chocolate is tempered to give it its shiny quality.
These similarities between two of the worlds most popular foodstuffs aren’t that surprising when you think about how well they blend together. Have a think about that the next time you’ve got a slab of dark chocolate and a heavy roasted coffee in front of you. Coffee and Chocolate are just meant to be together.