Wednesday, September 17

Seasonal Fruition: Kenya, grapefruit and tomatoes.

African coffees have unique to their continent an ability to express incredible bold citrus flavours, be it floral lemons from Ethiopia, the brassy bold oranges of a good new season Rwanda (recently these have tended to fade throughout the year so be warned) or the perfect breakfast compliment of grapefruit in a Kenya. Most definitely not to everyone's taste, but incredibly rewarding to those who do, African coffees cannot fail to register surprise with the first time coffee explorer, and so it can be when pairing them to food.

Being as it is now the ideal season for the home grown tomatoes (unless, like in my garden your veg got too damp and went mouldy) it is the perfect time to try out one of my favourite pairings, Kenya with Curry. To make this really work you need to get your taste buds ready and make your local supplier work that little bit harder and definitely taste before you buy.

Kenya in particularly I find can vary between the Grapefruit and tomato, though sometimes the tomato flavours only become more prevalent in the brewed coffee aroma rather than translating so much to the mouth. This for me has made it perfectly suited to a Rogan Josh, but recently I have been reinvigorated by these wonderful recipes from Skye Gingell writing in the Independent newspaper.

The freshness of the citrus in the works excellently with the fresh juiciness of the tomatoes in the Squash and tomato curry with lime and coconut, and the bite of the grapefruit balances with the lime and curry notes making for a surprisingly smooth crossover of flavours in the mouth.

Alternatively pairing it with a lunchtime gazpacho soup or a tomato and mozzarella tart and again the flavours work perfectly, but take heed, coffee and basil are opposites. If you combine these flavours you will have a more noticeable transition in the mouth and find that the flavours clash rather than compliment.

So which coffee to choose? Again, James Gourmet Coffee would appear to have got hold of an excellent Kenya, though on my 'to drink' list I feel happy enough with his expertise and opinion to recommend this Mount Kenya. Alternatively I would take the slightly controversial recommendation of Starbucks Kenya, not always what everyone expects, but having roasted for them for quite some time I can verify that some of the Kenyans they get hold of are truly wonderful coffees; if you don't believe me then just ask one of their staff to open a pack for you to taste. One word of warning though, as a country blend, you are likely to find larger variations between bags than you would from a local micro roastery. Check too the roast date - not actually on the packet but if you are close to the expiry date then don't bother buying it as the high notes are more likely to have faded.

As a point of interest, despite the fact that coffee originates to the North in Ethiopia, it was the English that introduced coffee to Kenya after it had travelled around the world to Indonesia and the Americas. The Fathers of the Holy Spirit experimented with propagation in the late 1890's, and records suggest the earliest introduction was actually from Brazil, though it would appear to be the Bourbon varietal that naturally mutated on the French owned isle of Reunion that succeeded commercially in 1901.

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