The Jakarta Post
The perfect combination of black coffee and dark chocolate can unleash the full potential of their flavors. (Shutterstock/File)
Black coffee and dark chocolate: they both come from brownish roasted beans and both require an acquired taste. When enjoyed together, they give double the pleasure.
A discussion event themed “Coffee Meets Chocolate”, organized by the Istituto Italiano di Cultura Jakarta in partnership with ZiCaffè and Pod Bali Chocolate on Feb. 13 from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. explored how consumers could enhance their appreciation of coffee and chocolate.
In the beginning, there is the bean. The manufacturing processes for both coffee and chocolate are quite similar as producers extract both products from coffee and cocoa beans, respectively. The bean is roasted, before going through a process of grinding and mixing to become the products available on the marketplace.
The cocoa bean gives us cocoa mass, which contains cocoa butter, the fat that gives us chocolate’s distinctive taste, according to the founder and chief executive officer of Pod Chocolate Bali, Toby Garritt. Pod Chocolate Bali is a local chocolate manufacturer based in Bali, specializing in Indonesian chocolate.
ZiCaffè export manager Giuseppe Trovatto, meanwhile, explained that when coffee makers roasted the beans, they extracted coffee powder. When the coffee powder is brewed in hot water, it releases chemical compounds that add nuances to the beverage’s flavor.
Just as the flavors of dark chocolate vary based on the percentage of cocoa used to make it, the flavors of black coffee also vary according to the soil in which the beans are grows.
“Coffee flavors differ not only because of the soil or temperature characteristics of a particular place but also because of the different roasting methods,” Trovatto explained.
While coffee-based drinks such as espresso, cappuccino and café latte were very popular in Italy, the country itself grew no coffee beans, as the beans grew only in regions that had a tropical climate, said Trovatto.
According to data from the International Coffee Organization, the number one coffee producer in 2016 was Brazil, which exported 2.59 billion kilograms of coffee beans across the world in the years of 2015 and 2016. Brazil is followed by Vietnam, which exported 1.65 billion kgs of coffee beans in 2015 and 2016.
Colombia follows in third position, with its exports of coffee beans totaling 810 million kgs throughout 2015 and 2016. Indonesia, which is another great coffee producer – the reason the beverage is nicknamed “Java” – ranked fourth in the organization’s top coffee exporters list for the 2015 and 2016 period after exporting 660 million kilograms of coffee beans in those two years.
Indonesia also has fertile soil for growing cocoa beans – the reason Garritt decided to start his local chocolate business.
“Instead of sending cocoa beans thousands of miles away to be manufactured in European countries, which then export the final products to us to be sold in supermarkets at very expensive prices, why don’t we just make our own chocolates?” he argued.
A basic guide to coffee and chocolate appreciation
To really enjoy black coffee or dark chocolate, you have to understand the basics of their flavor complexities.
Black coffee flavors are divided mainly into three types: Robusta, Arabica and a mix of both. The beans also have different colors: while the Arabica beans looked greenish, the Robusta beans had a more reddish and brownish color, according to Trovatto.
“Arabica has a more flowery note to it. Robusta, meanwhile, has more chocolaty and creamy characteristics to it,” Trovatto explained.
Meanwhile, according to Garritt, it was better to consume dark chocolate over milk chocolate because the former offered health benefits as well as more pleasure.
He said that while dark chocolate used cocoa butter, which contained beneficial antioxidants, milk chocolate used palm oil.
“When people complain of having sore throats after eating milk chocolate, it is not the chocolate that gives them the discomfort but the fat used to make it,” he explained.
“Dark chocolate is not only healthier; it also has a longer aftertaste, which leads you away from the temptation of eating it in large quantities. In contrast, the sugar contained in milk chocolate will tempt you to eat too much of it,” he continued.
Garritt advised that while enjoying dark chocolate, people should look at its appearance and note whether it had a shiny, creamy or soft texture. He also suggested that we smell the aroma of the chocolate, as we do for wine tasting.
“Then, you have to experience how the dark chocolate tastes in your mouth, whether it has a grainy or smooth texture on your palate, and the degree of acidity or bitterness it has. Then, you should also notice the dark chocolate’s aftertaste after you finish it,” he said.
The basic characteristics of black coffee and dark chocolate can also be used as a guide on how to pair them best.
“Espresso and really dark chocolate goes very well with one another as they enhance and lengthen each other’s aftertastes. The same effect also happens when you combine cappuccino with milk chocolate,” Garritt said.
“Arabica coffee, meanwhile, is not a very suitable pair for espresso because it has no boldness, while espresso is well-known for its very strong flavor,” he continued.
For a similar reason, Garritt said that Balinese coffee – which has a sweet flavor – would be a good match for dark chocolate with high cacao percentage – that is, a very bitter dark chocolate.
He advised that coffee and chocolate connoisseurs could also look outside the box by experimenting with matching different types of coffee and chocolate to discover and enjoy the many possible flavor interactions.