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Cheesy does it

The pairing of beautiful complex cheeses with wine or even whisky is a well-established concept. But coffee? It’s probably not something you’ve contemplated a great deal, but think about it, coffee and dairy is a perfect combination. Our love of flat whites, cappuccinos, macchiatos, lattes and piccolos is testament to that – so why not make the leap to cheese?

Many countries around the world have a long-established culture of enjoying coffee with cheese. Take Brazil for instance where most local coffee shops will serve pão de quiejo (cheese bread) made with half-cured cheese which adds a tangy flavour to the bread. Or look to Finland, where leipäjuusto, a cheese made with cow’s milk, is traditionally served as a side dish with coffee or even in the cup. Elsewhere in Scandinavia, Norwegian Gjejost (pronounced yay-toast) is a match made in heaven for espresso. The cheese is made by slowly cooking cows and goats whey down until the milk sugars caramelise. In fact, this cheese tastes like it looks: like caramel. Sounds good, right?

How about a tiramisu? That’s not so strange – I’m sure most people have consumed that classic mascarpone and coffee combo without it ever crossing their mind that they were pairing cheese and coffee. Tiramisu works for a reason: you see that warm, sweet acidity we associate with coffee can work wonders with the right cheeses, heightening the experience of both elements. But if you want to do it right, you’ll need to follow a few basic rules – most of which will be familiar if you’re used to pairing cheese with wine.

First, if one is too strong, it will overpower the other. Always pair the mild, delicate flavours of a pour over with mild and young cheeses. Full-bodied espressos, on the other hand, will go well with fuller-flavoured matured cheeses.

One of the unique benefits of coffee and cheese pairing is that you’re using a warm beverage as opposed to wine, beer or whisky. That gives a different texture to cheeses and creates a unique experience.

Still unsure? We’ve put together three easily accessible pairings that we think you’ll love. Bon appetite.

Gorwydd Caerphilly and Workye Shallo Yirgacheffe

This is a traditional Caerphilly cheese, produced by the Trethowan family at Gorwydd Farm, just outside the village of Llanddewi Brefi in Ceredigion, west Wales.

The cheese is made from unpasteurised cow’s milk and animal rennet, using original hand-turned presses and mould. It is matured for two months at closely monitored temperature and humidity levels, with each cheese being carefully turned every day. The result is a subtle, well-rounded Caerphilly with a fresh, lemony flavour. It’s a great match for Workye Shallo Yirgacheffe.

The delicate acidity and lavender aromas of this Ethiopian coffee goes very well with grassy and lemony notes of cheese.

Gorwydd Caerphilly from Bianca e Morra at Borough Marke. Workye Shallo Yirgacheffe from Notes roastery

Cerato Grande – Beeswax Cheese & Buziraguhindwa espresso

What we have here is an Italian take on beeswax cheese-making technique.

This cow’s milk cheese is rolled and covered in ground pepper and herbs and matured for six months, after which it’s covered in beeswax to preserve the flavours and stop the maturing process. There’s plenty of nutty and earthy flavours in this cheese with a hint of yoghurt-like acidity. This cheese offers an amazing match to Buziraguhindwa espresso from Burundi.

This espresso’s butterscotch sweetness and lingering cocoa aftertaste will complement the nutty notes of the cheese, creating chocolate and hazelnut fudge-like flavours and mouth feel.

Cerato Grande is from Bianca e Morra at Borough Market. Bokasso espresso from Notes roastery

Comte 12-18 month old and Sitio Nossa Senhora Aparecida

Comté is an ancient cheese that has been produced since the time of Charlemagne.
It is still traditionally made in more than 190 cheese dairies, known as the “fruitières” in
the Jura plateau.

Comté requires a long maturing period called affinage. The cheese is regularly cleaned and rubbed with salted water. The eyeholes of the Comté are the result of a correct affinage and should be the size of a pea to a small cherry.

It has an ivory-coloured paste scattered with holes the size of a hazelnut, and a complex, nutty, caramelised and sometimes surprisingly fruity flavour.

We found this comté goes very well with a Sitio Nossa Senhora Aparecida. This coffee’s chocolate and caramel-like flavours with lovely sweet lime acidity perfectly complement the sweetness of the cheese.

French Comte at Borough Market. Sitio Nossa Senhora Aparecida from Notes roastery