If you have ever been to Costa Rica or thought of taking a trip there, you have likely heard about the various coffee and chocolate tours. And if you like coffee and chocolate, you’ll appreciate the rich history.
The coffee business is quite prominent in Costa Rica. In fact, it is illegal in Costa Rica to produce any coffee not made from 100% Arabica coffee beans. Though these beans are difficult to grow, they create a rich, full-bodied flavor enjoyed by coffee connoisseurs worldwide.
Why Combine Costa Rican Coffee and Chocolate?
Today’s coffee lovers enjoy Costa Rican coffee, easily rating it as some of the world’s best. The mountainous regions and warm temperatures in Costa Rica make it the perfect environment to grow Arabica beans.
Further, Costa Rican coffee beans are picked by hand. The process is not rushed, and only the ripest beans are plucked from the plant and processed. You will appreciate the many varieties of coffee that come from Costa Rica. The eight distinct regions within the country result in eight unique flavors.
As with coffee, chocolate also has a significant place in Costa Rican history and was even used as currency by the Mayans, Aztecs, and other indigenous tribes. Cacao was a leading export in Costa Rica, and before that, the cacao bean was treated as a sacred crop amongst the Chorotega and Bribri people.
Bribri tribe women were known to prepare a coveted chocolate drink from the cacao bean, used during rituals and celebrations. It only fits that chocolate, made from the cacao bean, is now paired with coffee.
Together, Costa Rican chocolate paired with your favorite Costa Rican coffee makes quite the taste sensation.
How to Pair Coffee and Chocolate
When paired correctly, coffee and chocolate are a delectable treat. The correct pairing can bring out the richness of the chocolate and bring out the coffee’s sweetness. To ensure the result is one that you will enjoy, you need to understand how chocolate and coffee flavors interact and how acidity and textural components fit into the equation.
Costa Rican coffees are fruitier and more floral. These types of coffees pair well with lighter and milkier chocolates. Strong chocolate flavors can easily overpower these coffees. Thus the lighter chocolate will bring out the richness of the coffee. And on the flip side, the chocolate enthusiast will appreciate the opportunity to enjoy the chocolate’s true flavors.
Though milk chocolate can be paired with just about any type of Costa Rican coffee, the flavors will be heightened when paired with a lighter to medium roast. If you are looking for the best way to pair other roasts to your chocolate, check out this quick cheat list.
• Pair dark chocolate with espresso or dark roast coffee
• Pair white chocolate with a lighter and fruitier roast from Costa Rica
• Pair milk chocolate or truffles with a light roast
• Pair a cappuccino with chocolate bark (chocolate bark is a sheet of chocolate that is often covered with nuts, candies, or dried fruit)
Many coffee and chocolate connoisseurs suggest that dark roast coffees pair best with dark chocolates. Vienna roasts on the lighter side of the dark roast family have a slightly sweeter flavor.
Italian roasts, which are on the darker side, taste a bit more bitter. French roasts tend to fall in the middle and have bitter and sweet flavor notes, pairing well with darker chocolates.
DYOCCP: Do your Own Costa Rican Coffee and Chocolate Pairing
If you like to experiment with different flavors, you might want to do your own coffee and chocolate pairing. If this sounds fun and you are looking for the ultimate pairing experience, collect various Costa Rican chocolates and Costa Rican coffee grounds. Make sure that you have some white chocolate, milk chocolate, and dark chocolate in your mix.
You may also want to add chocolate covered nuts and fruits, depending on how elaborate you want your tasting experience to be. Be sure to include a light, medium, and dark roast in the mix for your coffee selections. If you have the appropriate tools, you may also wish to experiment with pour-over coffees, drip coffees, and espresso.
Have milk, honey, and any other preferred coffee sweeteners ready to help complete the tasting experience.
Preparing the chocolate and coffee for your pairing experience
Take care to open the chocolate slowly. Break off small pieces and inhale the aroma. Put the pieces in separate glass bowls and note what type of chocolate you place in each bowl. Keep your hands away from your nose when smelling the chocolate. Hold the bowl at the bottom so that any scent from your body does not interfere when you inhale the aroma.
Pour prepared coffee into a clean glass or ceramic cup. Allow it to cool just enough so that you can adequately savor the flavor. Once the coffee has cooled to your liking, take a square of one of the chocolates (start with the white or milk chocolate) and set it on your tongue inside your mouth.
Give yourself a few seconds to experience the texture and collect your thoughts on the chocolate’s aroma and how long it takes for the chocolate to melt. Once it has started to melt, take a sip of your coffee.
Write down your thoughts on the pairing, and then try the same pairing again to see if you have the same experience the second time around. Do the flavors combine well, or do you feel like they contradict one another?
And, before you move on to the next type of chocolate, take a sip of room-temperature water or grab a bite of a soda cracker. This will ensure your palate is cleansed and will not interfere with your next tasting.
Continue the process until you have tried white, milk, and dark chocolate. Next, try adding different flavors to your coffee and repeat the process. The next time you do a pairing, try a different roast coffee. Consider making it your morning ritual to try a unique chocolate and coffee pairing each day until you find the combination you prefer the most.
What to Know about Milk for Your Ultimate Costa Rican Coffee and Chocolate Pairing
Many Costa Rican coffee drinkers like to add milk to their favorite roast. However, non-dairy milk doesn’t always provide the utmost taste sensations, and it is best to be prepared before setting yourself up for a potentially disappointing tasting experience. Even though you might use plant-based milk in your cereal each morning, it doesn’t mean that the same milk will taste good in your coffee, especially when pairing it with chocolate.
Not all chocolate has milk in it, to begin with. Though pure chocolate is dairy-free, some brands have added milk, which isn’t just the case for milk chocolate. Some semi-sweet and dark chocolates have milk added.
Many soy milks will separate when added to warm or hot coffee. Some almond or cashew milks don’t provide the creaminess that a whole cow’s milk will. Coconut milk will make your coffee taste sweeter and will change the chocolate tasting and pairing experience as a result.