A dozen Slow Fooders got a mid-winter caffeine rush at our cosy Chocs and Coffee in the City event on Thursday 14 June. We teamed up with Fair Trade Coffee roastery, Bean There, and artisan chocolate makers, Honest Chocolate – right next door to each other on Wale Street – for a taste of ethically sourced coffee and raw chocolate bonbons.
The group split into two, with half of us doing the coffee cupping and the other half the truffle dipping – it was a challenge to decide what to do first!
We started with a background introduction to Bean There’s philosophy and some background on where their Rwandan coffee comes from. If you’ve ever wondered why this type of hand-picked, ethically traded, sun-dried, hand-sorted, first-class coffee seems so expensive, you should see what goes into it – let’s just say that of every 10kgs picked, only 1kg of premium coffee makes it to the roastery.
Then, while most Slow Fooders have done a wine tasting or fifteen in their time, coffee tasting was new for most of us. Roaster Khanyisa led us in a comparison of three of Bean There’s coffees. We started with the dry grounds, tapping the side of the glass to release the toasty aromas. Then we added hot boiled water and sniffed it again, before ‘breaking the crust’ (cutting through the grounds that have floated to the top) and giving it another whiff. Not being well versed in coffee snorting, the declared aromas ranged from the predictable – “tobacco”, “roasted nuts” – to the imaginative – “burnt broccoli”, “a shampoo I used to use”. Finally, we scooped off all the grounds and tasted – a vigorous slurping that probably takes years to perfect. By that stage we were all ready for an expertly blended cappuccino from Bean There’s barista, Romeo (who is off to the national championships next month). His coffee is a serious contender for Best Cuppa in the City.
Over at the chocolate shop, Anthony gave us the background of how Honest got started (a sort of slow serendipity with lots of experiments involving tricky coconut oil), between some educational insights into the amazingness of raw cacao and its processing (a very Slow Food method of painstakingly grinding the beans to paste in a large stone machine – the cacao must never heat up above 46C).
We then went through to Honest’s tiny kitchen, where all the chocolates are made and packaged by hand. Michael was keeping the dipping chocolate at just the right consistency with constant stirring and short bursts of heat from a small hairdryer. The truffle centres – made with raw cacao, agave nectar for sweetening and coconut oil – were already made, we just needed to cover them with chocolate… very, very quickly! There is obviously an art to it, and many mildly disfigured bonbons emerged from the melting pot. Still tasted brilliant though!
Finally, we tasted (and bought) Bean There’s flavoured chocolate slabs, which include maca and bittersweet orange. In a sweet twist, this particular batch of Honest’s coffee chocolate was made with Bean There beans!
Thanks again to the teams at Bean There and Honest for sharing their passion for the foods they work with.
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