I love coffee. A lot. (It’s even how I met my fiance, but that’s another story). I also love chocolate and the two make a great pair. My experience in coffee is how I got started at Dandelion Chocolate. I got involved with Dandelion through our mutual friends at Four Barrel in January of 2013 and I’ve had a great time helping to develop our drink menu. I’ve experimented with different ingredients, origins and methods of preparation for hot chocolates, mochas and coffees alike and it’s tons of fun to be able to adapt our menu seasonally… or whenever we feel like it.
We already have a variety of drinkable chocolate options and a few Café Mochas made with Four Barrel Friendo Blendo Espresso, combined in ways that we think blend our single origin chocolate with their seasonally varied ‘spro. Four Barrel has been a great partner to us in the past year as we’ve learned and grown into a full fledged chocolate cafe and we think that their coffee and our chocolate go great together. They roast their coffee only a few blocks down from us on Valencia Street here in San Francisco, and their dedication to ethical coffee and education is super rad and pretty similar to our approach to chocolate; light roasts, small batches, single origin, and personal relationships with farmers.
Since opening, we have offered a seasonal rotation of coffees brewed in the french press method. We are now offering single origin coffees brewed in the pour-over method. I think that french press tends to make a cloudy and relatively weak brew in contrast to my personal preference of a strong and clean cup of coffee. French Press produces very pleasant earthiness and silky mouthfeel, but in brewing tends to lose some of the brightness and unique flavors that make our coffee selections really stand out… and that is why we are now offering Four Barrel Coffee brewed via the pour over method.
When making a single cup of coffee, the pour-over method makes a really delicious cup of bright, flavorful brew with a crystal finish and I think makes a great pairing with chocolate. Similar to the way some people pair wines with chocolate or Lisa Vega uses different origins to help certain pastries shine (see: Papua New Guinea S’mores), the unique flavor notes in coffee can pull out flavors in chocolate that one may not have noticed before and vice versa. For this reason we are introducing a seasonally rotating pour over coffee option with a pairing suggestion depending both on the coffee that we are currently serving and the chocolates we are currently making. Instead of combining the Espresso and Hot Chocolate, we want to also show how the can complement each other.
The coffee that we are currently serving is from a co-op farm in Robot Mata, Ethiopia. On its own, this coffee has flavor notes of kiwi, lemon, ginger, green tea, and honey with a very pleasant sweetness that lingers at the back of the palate and followed by a clean finish.
While the flavors of the coffee can stand on its own, when paired with chocolate we get new interesting notes. Our newest bar from Ecuador (Camino Verde), has the quintessential flavor of fudge brownies that many people look for in chocolate and is definitely the mellowest of our bars. Having a couple pieces with the Robot Mata is like putting cream in your coffee. The smooth chocolate melts over your tongue and slightly mutes the brightness in the coffee in a pleasantly sweet texture and mouthfeel that makes me forget that I’m drinking black coffee and eating a 70% dark chocolate.
When paired with our chocolate from Mantuano, Venezuela, the slight fruitiness of the chocolate and the coffee play off of each other resulting in a roasty, dried cherry flavor with cinnamon notes at the end and a buttery mouthfeel. This pairing is definitely spicier and more interesting than the Camino Verde, but it really depends on your preferences or mood as to what you want. I like a square of the mellower chocolate with my coffee in the morning, but enjoy a more fruity pairing in the afternoon or evening, which is especially nice if you’re sharing it with someone. Everyone’s palate is different, so not everyone will get the same tasting notes out of every chocolate or coffee, so these foster great conversation for the coffee or chocolate connoisseur!
If you come in and order a coffee, you can feel free to taste our varieties of chocolate samples on the shelf and think about flavor profiles for yourself and if you find something that you like in particular, you can take home a bar and a bag of the coffee (yes, we sell Four Barrel Coffee Beans!) that we are brewing so you can have the pair that you like at home! Our coffee offerings and pairing suggestions will change seasonally, but each new variety will be chosen thoughtfully with specific pairings in mind. And as always, everyone at Dandelion is more than happy to answer any questions that you might have regarding any of our products or practices.