What are the ground rules for matching whisky and coffee? First of all, here are five pointers to remember.
- Choose your preparation method – the best way to brew your coffee to pair with whisky is with a cafetiere or filter.
- Don’t mix the coffee with your whisky – one should follow the other to appreciate the individual flavour elements of each.
- Using fresh beans is crucial for the best result. Coffee needs to be ground just before use and has to be roasted no less than two weeks if you’re using it in a cafetiere, and four weeks if in an espresso machine.
- You’ll need to invest in a decent grinder if using beans, but one for cafetieres is cheaper than one for using with espresso machines.
- Beware the robusta bean – good ones are hard to come by and it’s mostly used as a cheap, poor-quality filler in coffee blends.
But what coffees work best with which flavour profiles?
Jansoon blend: Perfect with a Society whisky from the Deep, Rich & Dried Fruits flavour profile
There’s fleeting acidity that hits at the start of the drink. It has a rich and syrupy body with dark chocolate sweetness.
in the cafetiere, the coffee is Madagascan cocoa and a dash of dark chocolate retaining 100 per cent cocoa butter. In a filter, the coffee is lighter while still retaining the cocoa and chocolate. The espresso is syrupy thick with heaps of crema and erupting with aromatics.
Janszoon is predominantly Sumatran coffee made from a selection of the best pulped, sun-dried cherries cultivated by farmers of the Batak tribe on small plots. These coffees are processed and selected by hand, using traditional methods that give this coffee its herbal quality aroma, full body, low acidity and rich flavour which makes this coffee so distinctive.
El Borbollon – El Salvador 100 per cent red bourbon: Perfect with a Society whisky from the Light & Delicate flavour profile
This coffee dances with heaps of yellow fruit and creamed clover honey sweetness. In a cafetiere, the drinker strolls through a tropical orchard, the sweet scent of hibiscus flower on the nose and guava and papaya on the tongue. In the filter, we keep the sweetness but lose some of the deeper notes of the fruit. The espresso came through as sweet and mellow with a hint of burnt sugar.
The coffee is grown on a couple of farms – La Reforma and El Cerro – in Santa Ana owned by the Alvarez family.
They’ve been growing coffee there for more than 100 years. All the coffee on the plantation is grown under a shade of trees, which causes the fruit to develop over a longer period, thus building the sugar content of the seeds.
Monsoon Malabar: Perfect with a Society whisky from the Peated flavour profile
This is low in acidity, has heavy smoky bass notes in the body and is medium sweet. It’s also slightly spicy with cloves and cinnamon. In a cafetiere, the coffee is reminiscent of a spicy creme brulée. In the filter, we got cinnamon and cream.
As an espresso, it’s like sucking hot water through a firework. To get the smoky taste, we need to dampen the exhaust on the roaster. This coffee is very popular in Scandinavian espresso blends.
This coffee comes from the Bibi Plantation in India. Originally, the coffee came in open hulled boats and the wind and rain used to go through the green beans, turning then yellow. When shipping improved with containers, the people of Europe complained that the coffee didn’t taste the same as before.
Nowadays, some of the coffee is artificially weathered by putting it out in covered storage with no walls allowing the moist monsoon winds to pass through the bags.