For Your Consideration…

Written by Ric Rhinehart, Executive Director SCAA

I must confess that I have generally regarded coffee as a beverage that is best consumed on its own merits, although admittedly coffee and a biscotti, beignet or Voodoo donut provides a pleasant enough taste experience. The concept of pairing coffees and foods in a setting comparable to a winemaker’s dinner has never really captured my imagination. This week, however, I had a coffee and food experience that may force me to reexamine what is possible.

Photo courtesy of Pure Coffee Blog

I happened to be in beautiful (albeit gray and rainy) Portland, Oregon, one of the world’s best coffee cities and wanted to have a cup of good coffee. I stopped into Public Domain, CBI’s experimental coffee house on Pioneer Square, where as luck would have it they were offering up hand-made cups of Panama’s unique Esmeralda Especial. I ordered a cup and a lemon poppy seed scone and retreated to a corner table to check my e-mail. A few minutes later I found myself sipping the wonderfully aromatic and brightly acidic geisha and munching on a bit of the scone and had the single most engaging coffee and food combination of my life. The sweet citrus notes of the pastry exploded in my mouth and bounced off of the bright fruit and acid sensations of the coffee. I was dazzled by the flavor and aroma light show that was going on across my palate and was captivated by the experience of a food and beverage marriage that I would not have believed possible.

So let me offer first my profound thanks to the wonderful baristas at Public Domain for a very well prepared cup, to the Peterson family for bringing us the unique flavor experience that is Esmeralda Especial and to the crew at CBI for doing a great job of roasting this special coffee. I invite you to join me in reconsidering how food and coffee might interact together. I wonder what might be the perfect coffee for tarte tartin?