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The Perfect Match

Five Senses CoffeeGuest Writer 11 February 2012

Anthony Svilicich, co-owner of Le Monde Cafe in Sydney, is paving the way for coffee and food pairing in the Australian coffee culture. His Breakfast Degustation, created with his business partner Renee Byrne, and their chef, Chris Merrick, is critically acclaimed, earning Le Monde Sydney’s 2011 Good Food Guide Cafe of the Year. Not only is Anthony innovative and progressive with his approach to coffee, he has owned and operated cafes for many years, competed and judged at various Australian coffee competitions, and best of all, is an all-around great guy.

Pinot or Zinfandel with your pork? Malbec or Cabernet with your beef? Riesling or Chardonnay with your fish? Latte or Syphon with your Scrambled Eggs? Huh? Yes, you did hear right. It’s very common to hear about food being matched with wine, but what about when it comes to matching food with coffee? Some might scoff at the idea, but others may revel in the challenge of engaging in this relatively unchartered territory. In the fast growing cafe industry, our expectations are becoming higher and our taste buds have an insatiable desire to be stimulated. With breakfast becoming more and more popular as a restaurant meal, it’s up to cafes to raise the bar and help educate the consumer about the versatility of our sacred beans. We need to entertain consumers’ senses without scaring them away and forcing them to retreat to their old breakfast haunts where toast with Vegemite and a frothy latte are churned out for the masses.

So when matching food and coffee, where do you start?

Wine and coffee are enormously similar on many levels. From the growing process, all the way to the descriptors we use when drinking them, from appreciating and researching their terroir to noting the structure and complexity of flavours, we wait in hope that all these elements will come together in that moment of harmony when the coffee aroma hits our noses and the flavours hit our palates.

In trying to understand and appreciate all of this wonderful complexity, at Le Monde Cafe we recently embarked on a journey of experimentation with a ‘Breakfast Degustation’ menu. With access to so many great beans, knowledge of different brewing methods and a passionate chef with restaurant experience, we were able to successfully match different coffees with food.

The matching process was not only all about flavours. Other important factors that came into play were the coffee origin and the regional characteristics of that bean, as well as the texture and serving temperature. For our deconstructed BLT, which consisted of an eight hour Confit Pork Belly, dehydrated kale, tomato paper, lemon jelly and avocado mousse, nothing matched it more perfectly than a Sumatran Lintong from the Clover, full of earthy savouriness and vegetable soup qualities, drunk at a tepid temperature. Dessert-style breakfast was a little more versatile in its matching choices. Our coffee espuma with fresh blueberries, salted pumpkin seeds and chocolate could be enjoyed with a rich and velvety nutty latte blend, or was equally delicious with a filter brew of a clean, fruity and juicy Ethiopian Yirgacheffe.

Whichever way you choose to look at it, next time you’re creating a menu or simply enjoying breakfast at your local cafe, stop and think about your choice of food; what exciting brew could you enjoy with it? Think flavour, texture and temperature — and don’t be afraid to experiment and educate. Some people may laugh and say, ’It’s just coffee?’ mdash; but others may embrace your thoughts and take their breakfast sensory experience to a whole new level. For the most part, it is a whole heap of fun and you learn lots in the process.

Who knows where it may all go one day? Sommeliers in cafes? Not likely I guess, but whether it is a breakfast degustation, or bacon and eggs and a latte with two sugars, in everybody’s own mind there is a perfectly matched coffee for their breakfast. Each to their own and happy matching!

© Photos provided with permission by the great people from the Fat Belly Club. Check out their blog here. All rights reserved by photographer.

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