Valentine's Day is just around the corner, so it's probably about time you start figuring out the best way to please the coffee lover in your life. Rather than that same old boring bouquet of flowers, why not switch things up this year and give that sweet-but-maybe-a-little-bitter boo of yours a gift to fit his or her disposition?
Here's your guide to pairing locally-available coffees with delicious chocolates.
Let's talk about the parallels between chocolate and coffee for a minute; besides just being the favored non-alcoholic vices of just about everyone everywhere, these two foods have a lot in common. They grow in similar equatorial climates. They're produced similarly - the part we consume is the seed of a fruit, which is processed, dried, roasted, and ground prior to consumption. And (when their preparation is well-executed), they both manage to strike an impeccable balance between acidity, bitterness, sweetness, and je ne sais quoi that people love to either love or hate.
The coffees featured in these pairings can be easily procured in the Metro Phoenix Area, as they are all either roasted or retailed locally. The chocolates we featured should be available at your favorite organic food store or chocolate boutique; some are more classic, some are a little more xany.
This is merely a guide, so feel free to substitute our suggestions for similar products. Bonus points if the chocolates and coffees you choose come from companies committed to ethical sourcing and transparency in production; after all, what's sexier than a Valentine who cares about treating farmers fairly?
Pairing Number One: All Cats are Gray in the Dark The Chocolate: Endangered Species Chocolate - Dark Chocolate with 88% Cocoa. Tastes Like: This is a bar for the dark chocolate lover only. Slightly smoky, notes of toasted walnut, blood orange acidity. Perks: Endangered Species Chocolate donates 10% of their net profits to protecting corporate interests. Just kidding! They donate 10% of their net profits to protecting endangered animal species! Each bar comes with information about an animal that you're helping to save by buying their products, so you can let the sweetness of moral superiority cleanse your palate of this dark, smoky chocolate. Pair With: A full-bodied medium to dark roasted Central or South American coffee; something with a lil' heft to it. Try Cortez Coffee's' Mexico Nayarit.
Pairing Number Two: We Like Our Chocolate Like We Like Our Men: Rich, Sweet, and in this Bar. The Chocolate: Theo 85% cocoa Dark Chocolate Tastes Like: Pure ambrosia. Silky mouthfeel, vanilla beans, juicy red berries. Perfectly balanced. Perks: No emulsifiers here - rather than taking the easy route by adding chemical binders to their chocolate, Theo opts for the more time-intensive process of stirring. and stirring. and stirring. This results in an incredibly creamy mouthfeel with minimal grittiness and no weird aftertaste. Pair With: A sweet, juicy natural-processed coffee or a classic espresso - try Press Coffee Roasters' Ethiopia Amaro Gayo or Lux's Espresso Blend.
Pairing Number Three: Treat Thine Lover Gingerly The Chocolate: Chocolove Ginger Crystalized in Dark Chocolate (85% cocoa) Tastes Like: Not as gingery as you might think. The ginger cuts the bitter edge off the dark chocolate and provides a nice, slightly crispy textural component to the sweet, creamy bar. Perks: Each bar comes with a free love poem inside the wrapper. Your work here is done. Pair With: A bright, playful, and maybe slightly herbal espresso; Royal Coffee Bar's blend should do the trick, or just about anything from Cartel.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
Pairing Number Four: Butter Up Your Valentine The Chocolate: Alter Eco's Dark Salted Brown Butter Organic Chocolate Tastes Like: Subtle toasted nuts, caramelized sugars, vanilla, slightly salty. This is a dark chocolate that acts like a milk chocolate. If love had a flavor, this would be its flavor. Perks: This is chocolate made with butter. As if you needed a reason to want to try the lovechild of the two greatest foods ever, Alter Eco is incredibly transparent about their sourcing. This single-origin sweet hails from Ecuador; the packaging was a wealth of information about the farm and farmer that produced the cacao. Also, this bar's creamy, melt-in-your-mouth texture is a testament to its lack of emulsifiers. Pair With: A sweet, clean Central American coffee. Xanadu Coffee Roasters' Costa Rica would be a nice accompaniment to this chocolate.
Pairing Number Five: We're Out of Love Puns, Sorry. The Chocolate: Divine White Chocolate with Strawberries Tastes Like: Dehydrated strawberries give this bar a nice crispy texture. The white chocolate itself is toffee-like, rich, and reminiscent of steamed milk. This bar is the sweetest one, but possesses an almost umami-like quality that is ever-so-slightly grassy or hay-like (the best comparison we can draw here is that it is reminiscent of goat's milk) Perks: The strawberries are included in the bar. Grab some champagne, and if you do a good job, your Valentine will make the coffee for you in the morning. On a more serious note, Divine is also super transparent about their sourcing. The cocoa butter used to produce this white chocolate came from from the Kuapa Kokoo Farmers' Cooperative in Ghana. Pair With: A light-bodied, fruity coffee. Pick up a bag of Heart Coffee Roasters' Kenya Chorongi at Crepe Bar and have your way with it.