Category Archives: Flavour

Coffee and cocktails

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Coffee is great. Cocktails are great. But which should you drink on a Friday night?

Obviously, we’d say coffee (we’re slightly biased) but, thanks to some talented friends, we’ve discovered a way to have both at the same time.

At Mojo, a bar just down the road from us in Leeds, they know their way around a cocktail. And they’ve brewed up a couple of cracking drinks which take classic cocktail recipes and add a delightful caffeinated twist.

One of them features coffee, and the other features green tea by our sister brand, Taylors of Harrogate. Read on for the recipes.

Hot Lava Java Martini (pictured above)

Uses strong, over-brewed coffee – the extra bitterness works well with the sweetness of the pisco and crème de cacao.

Fill a cafetière ⅓ full with Hot Lava Java.
Fill to top with boiled (not boiling) water.
Leave for 5-10 minutes, and press.
Then take:

1 part ABA Pisco (or vodka)
1 part White Cacao liqueur
3 parts Hot Lava Java

Add to a cocktail shaker with plenty of ice, shake, then strain into a martini glass.

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Green Tea and Ginger Mojito

First off, make a simple syrup: add boiling water to white sugar (1:1 ratio by volume) and stir well to dissolve.

Then turn it into a green tea syrup – essentially a very sweet, over-brewed green tea – by adding Taylors of Harrogate Green Tea with Lemon tea bags. Wait a few minutes for it to cool a little, then use 2 bags per litre of syrup and leave for around 10 minutes.

Then add the following to a highball glass:

1 ½ parts Havana Club Rum
½ part Kings Ginger Liqueur
2 lime wedges
2 Mint Sprigs
¾ Green Tea Syrup
¾ fresh lime juice

‘Muddle’ in the bottom of the glass (that’s basically mixing and roughly squashing it – a wooden muddler is perfect, but you could use a wooden spoon). Add lots and lots of crushed ice, then top up with soda.

More from Mojo: Twitter / Facebook

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Fancy a slice of this?

Clandestine chocolate cake

Did you know that it’s currently National Baking Week and Chocolate Week?

So we’d be failing in our duty to you if we didn’t provide a gorgeous recipe for something chocolatey and cakey that goes perfectly with a brew.

And there’s a quirky twist too, thanks to the surprisingly delicious addition of beetroot.

It’s a creation by the talented people over at the Clandestine Cake Club. We hope it gets you in the baking mood!


Velvet Chocolate and Beetroot cake with Amaretto Ganache

Filled and covered with a smooth velvet Amaretto ganache, this also features beetroot, which adds moisture and texture to any cake. And the dark sugar adds balance with the smooth chocolate flavours.

Total time (prep & bake): 1 hours 35 minutes
Serving size: 10-12


For the chocolate decorations
150g dark chocolate

For the cake
200g butter softened
200g dark soft brown sugar
3 large eggs
150g dark chocolate around 50% cocoa solids
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
200g self raising flour
150g cooked beetroot – grated

For the filling
2 large tablespoons strawberry preserve

For the ganache
400g dark chocolate around 50% cocoa solids finely chopped or grated
170ml double cream
30ml amaretto liqueur


Make the chocolate decorations

1. Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water. Heat until melted.

2. Place the chocolate in a piping bag with a very tiny nozzle.

3. Pipe squiggly clusters of lines on a strip of cellophane. Place in the fridge to set.

4. Make as many as you wish, any left over decorations can be kept in a sealed container for use on other cakes. Keep in a cool place away from heat

Make the cake

1. Preheat the oven to 170deg fan assisted. Grease and line 2 x 19cm/7.5ins loose bottomed sandwich tins

2. Melt the chocolate in a heat proof bowl over a pan of simmering water. Put aside to cool but not set.

2. Beat the butter and sugar together until well combined and lighter in colour

3. Add the eggs one at a time adding a little flour to help prevent curdling

4. Add the remaining flour and baking powder, mix until well combined

5. Add the beetroot and cooled chocolate and mix until well combined

6. Divide the mixture between the two baking tins

7. Bake in the oven for around 30-35 mins or until baked. Using a skewer to test the centre of the cakes until it comes out clean.

8. Leave to cool in the tins for 15 mins before turning out onto a wired wrack to cool completely

Make the ganache

1. Heat the cream almost to boiling

2. Pour the cream over the chocolate in a heatproof bowl

3. Allow to stand for a few moments to allow the heat to penetrate the chocolate

4. Gently stir until all the cream and chocolate are nice and smooth

5. Add the amaretto and mix until well combined

6. Leave to cool

Assemble the cake

1. Sandwich the two cakes together with the strawberry preserve and a thin layer of ganache

2. Cover the top and sides of the cake with the remaining ganache leave a little behind for piping

3. Place the cake in the fridge to set a little

4. Remove the cake from the fridge and place the remaining ganache in a piping bag, use this to fix your chocolate squiggle decorations around the cake.

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Coffee and walnuts

Moist cake, rich buttercream, crunchy walnuts… it’s no wonder that coffee cake is so popular.

But what is it about coffee and walnuts that go together so well?

“They work well together because walnuts are one of the most common aromas found in coffee,” says our coffee buyer Hannah. “That’s why they’re so compatible.”

Aroma is a big part of taste, and hundreds upon hundreds of aromas have been identified in coffee.

Nut aromas are among the most common – specifically almonds, peanuts, hazelnuts and walnuts.

“It’s more noticeable in the brew than in the grounds,” says Hannah. “And more noticeable in Arabica than Robusta.”

(Arabica and Robusta are two different species of coffee plant. Arabica is generally considered to produce better-tasting coffee, and it’s what we use in all our blends. Robusta is usually stronger and more earthy – we add a bit to our Hot Lava Java for an extra caffeine kick).

The fact that coffee so often exhibits walnut aromas means the pair make a harmonious match in cooking.

You don’t have to go far to find recipes making the most of the combination: there’s this coffee and walnut cake, a coffee walnut ice cream or these coffee and walnut cookies.

And if you’d like to try a coffee with a nutty character, Hannah can recommend one from our range.

“Coffee often has a nutty character – particularly coffees from Brazil,” she says. “And I’d talk about our Brazil Rio Valleys as being nutty.”

For more on pairing flavours with coffee, you can take a look at our previous blogs on orange, blackcurrant, chocolate and beef.

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Coffee and chocolate

There are some surprising flavours in coffee. Aromas like blackcurrant and cooked beef are among the hundreds which can be found in this complex beverage, and it creates a wealth of possibilities for cooks.

You can read a bit about their culinary affinity here: coffee and blackcurrant / coffee and beef.

But if those combinations sound a bit leftfield, here’s one which nobody could disagree with – coffee and chocolate.

“Coffee and cocoa beans are very similar,” says Hannah Eatough, one of our coffee buyers. “They are both the seed of a fruit, they’re often grown in the shade in tropical areas of the world – and then there’s the roasting process, which coaxes out the aromas.”

Cocoa has been cultivated for millennia in Mexico and Central America, where it was consumed as a bitter drink (and, some evidence suggests, fermented to make alcohol).

It was only when it was brought to Spain in the 16th century that it was combined with sugar, leading to the chocolate we know and love.

[A quick aside for chocolate lovers – our sister company Bettys makes some pretty exquisite chocolate products, which you might like to take a look at here]

One of the most familiar ways to combine it with coffee is in mocha which, at its simplest, is hot chocolate with a shot of espresso.

But there are a wealth of uses in cooking, like chocolate and coffee fondants, Heston Blumenthal’s coffee and chocolate sauce, chocolate cake bolstered by a spot of coffee and this coffee, chocolate and chestnut meringue cake.

It helps that chocolate is one of the key aromas found in coffee.

“It’s one of coffee’s main features,” says Hannah.

“When we are talking about Indonesian coffees, we describe them as having an aroma and taste that’s reminiscent of dark chocolate.

“And we’d describe Central American coffee more in terms of milk chocolate.”

If you’d like to try a coffee with some of these flavours, Hannah suggests After Dark.

“For me this is the chocolatiest coffee we do,” she says. “We use Brazilian and Indonesian coffees in this blend, and they are both chocolaty.”

You can read more about the complex flavours and aromas of coffee here – and pop back soon for a look at another classic combination: coffee and walnuts.

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Coffee and orange

Some ingredients just work together beautifully.

Blend chocolate and hazelnut, cook tomato and basil or squeeze lime over pineapple, and you’ll see what we mean.

Coffee has some natural bedfellows too. We’ve already looked at the way it partners with blackcurrant and with beef, thanks partly to the fact that both are named among the 36 key aromas found in coffee.

Orange isn’t in that list. But think back to a breakfast in which coffee and orange juice co-habited on the same table. You sip one, then the other, with no sign of a clash. You might even notice a little bit of harmony.

Niki Segnit does. Her book, The Flavour Thesaurus, lists combinations of ingredients which work well together, and has this to say on the topic of coffee and orange:

“San Matteo of Sicily makes a heavenly orange and coffee marmalade. I once had burnt orange and coffee ice-cream, bitter as a custody battle, but resolved by the sweetness of the cream. Orange and coffee tiramisu is nicer than it sounds.”

She also names a coffee and orange liqueur made by studding an orange with 44 coffee beans and steeping it rum, vodka or brandy for 44 days, alongside 44 teaspoons of sugar. You can see a version of that here.

For our head coffee buyer, Rick Tingley, coffee’s happiest orange moments occur when it meets marmalade.

“If I was having marmalade on a croissant, I would want coffee that would be able to stand up to that intense bitterness,” he says.

“I would like dark chocolate with orange – nothing wishy washy. So you’d pick a coffee with those chocolate flavour notes, a nice, dark roast like Espresso, After Dark or Rich Italian.”

There are plenty of other ideas, too. Chicken soaked in coffee, orange and spices before cooking; beef braised with coffee, orange and cinammon; or drinks like coffee and orange martini.

If you’re still not sold, pop back in a couple of weeks, when we’ll be looking at a show stopping combination – coffee and chocolate.

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Coffee and… beef?

Coffee has some surprising uses in cooking – and one of the most surprising is its affinity with beef.

A whole host of recipes call for a bit of coffee to be added to a beef stew, or some ground beans to be used as a dry rub for a roast joint. We’ll post links to a few below.

The combination of flavours works because cooked beef, believe it or not, is one of the 36 top aromas found in coffee.

“The aroma of cooked beef is primarily associated with the degree of roast,” says Rick Tingley, our head coffee buyer. “A darker roaster will produce a stronger fuller aroma with hints of cooked beef, as well as other distinct aromas, than the lighter roast coffees.”

A hint of coffee can give a harmonious depth to the sauce in a one-pot beef dish. Take this West Village beef stew, for example, or this Texas beef brisket.

“The coffee component is going to give it a good depth of flavour, some body and a touch of bitterness,” says Rick. “Akin to a stout.”

Alternatively, you could try using using coffee to add some extra punch to a dry rub for a roast or a steak – like this coffee rub for a rib-eye and this one for a “cowboy steak”.

As for the kind of coffee to use, you’ll want a darker roast – not simply because that’s where you’re more likely to find it giving off those cooked beef aromas, but because that’s where the flavour it lends to a dish is at its most intense.

“You’re looking at strength guide 4s, 5s and 6s, like Rich Italian, After Dark, Hot Lava Java and Espresso,” says Rick. “That would be the degree of roast that gives you that full flavoured coffee experience.”

You can read more about the flavour complexities of coffee here, or read about another unlikely culinary partnership – coffee and blackcurrant.

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Coffee and blackcurrant

“It’s in the running for the most delicious sweet thing I’ve ever eaten.”

That’s Niki Segnit, author of a book called The Flavour Thesaurus. And she’s talking about something you’ve quite possibly never tasted: blackcurrant and coffee.

There was a bit more to the dessert than that. She describes “layers of meringue, blackcurrant sorbet, whipped cream and coffee ice-cream with a sprinkling of toasted almonds” – so there’s plenty of creaminess and crunch in the dish, too. But the coffee and blackcurrant is the pairing at its heart.

It’s certainly not a well-known combination. Search for a recipe online and you’ll find only Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s variant on Eton Mess in the first ten pages of results.

But it’s one which really works, and that’s thanks in no small part to the fact that, among coffee’s near-endless array of flavour profiles, “blackcurrant-like” is one of the most common.

“You’d find that in a top quality Kenyan, like our Kenya Nyeri,” says Rick Tingley, head coffee buyer for Taylors. “The main attributes of Kenyan coffee are acidity and blackcurrant flavour notes.”

It makes for a natural affinity, though if you’re cooking with them both, a lighter roasted Kenyan may not be the best choice. The potency of the fruit could well overwhelm the blackcurrant notes in the coffee.

“You need the full flavour and body,” says Rick. “And the dark chocolate notes that you can get with darker roasts.

“I’d use After Dark or Espresso. Something with a lot of oomph.”

If Hugh’s recipe doesn’t do it for you, Niki Segnit also suggests whipping up a version of pavlova (coffee-flavoured meringue with cream and a blackcurrant compote) or trying out blackcurrant jam in a coffee gateau.

So that’s coffee and blackcurrant. A bit of food for thought, hopefully.

In a future week we’ll be looking a more common, but equally surprising, partnership – coffee and beef.

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A question of taste

Here’s an experiment for you.

Next time you’re sipping a cup of Rich Italian, Lazy Sunday, or any of our very lovely coffees, close your eyes and concentrate on your tongue.

Sip the coffee – slurp it, even, which enhances flavour perception – and see what you can identify.

You might find notes of citrus, chocolate, or hazelnut. Vanilla, caramel or cloves. You might even find cooked beef, basmati rice or straw.

In fact, more than 800 aromas have been identified in coffee. These aromas in the nose, combined with the taste of the coffee on the palate, create a complexity to rival anything in wine, whisky and beer.

It’s one of the reasons people can fall so head over heels in love with it. Like Rick Tingley, our head coffee buyer.

“It’s the most complex hot drink there is,” he says. “The difference you get from origin, varieties, regions and terroir, and then of course how you roast it.”

‘Terroir’ means a wealth of factors – like the variety of coffee plant, the altitude at which it’s grown, the climate, the soil and the farming methods used by the grower.

“With all that in the mix, there’s an endless variety of flavours,” says Rick.

There’s a very interesting side effect to this wealth of tastes. It means coffee has an affinity with foods you might not expect.

For the cook, there are some surprising combinations – like coffee and orange, coffee and beef, or coffee and blackcurrant. Partnerships which sound like they shouldn’t work, but really do.

We’ll be taking a look at these pairings in future weeks, rounding up some recipes which show them off, and getting Rick’s expert view on why they work together and which of our blends are the best match.

Pop back soon for a look at the surprising harmony of coffee and blackcurrant.

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