Cooking With Coffee


Sep 17, 2014 by British Blog

Lots of people in Britain love coffee. Available in the UK since the sixteenth century, this rich and complex brew soon became popular and by 1675 there were more than 3,000 coffee houses in England alone. In fact, one of these, Queen's Lane Coffee House in Oxford, opened in 1654 and is still open today. Historically, these coffee houses were associated with political discussion and dissent - so much so that the crown tried to ban them in the late seventeenth century.

While the more recent advent of instant coffee and American coffee house chains may have distressed them, there is still a large and thriving number of British coffee purists, who take the roasting, brewing and drinking of coffee every bit as seriously as their wine-loving and wine-tasting counterparts.


Delicious and versatile

Many coffee lovers are quick to point out that coffee is a delicious and versatile cooking ingredient. Of course, there are some very well known dishes, such as tiramisu, that use coffee and are very popular. However, most people still seem unaware of the sheer versatility that coffee offers. Brewed espresso, for example, can instantly enliven a dull and weak stock, giving a depth and blend of flavours that meat or vegetables alone cannot achieve.

Coffee complements sweet, earthy and nutty tones in food. It is also useful because it tenderises the ingredients it is cooked with, a quality that it particularly useful in cooked meat dishes.

Many people regard coffee and chocolate as a natural pairing, but combining coffee with more unusual flavours such as chilli and sichuan peppercorns can produce great results in savoury meals.

Some ideas for using coffee in food include:

  • Blend coffee with brown sugar and chilli to make a barbeque sauce that is perfect with chicken.
  • In hot weather, make coffee ice lollies (try adding cherry or chocolate for extra interest) or granita.
  • Make a jelly with cold espresso and serve it with a generous helping of whipped cream.
  • Blend equal measures of freshly brewed espresso, grated chocolate and rum, then pour it over a scoop of chocolate ice cream to make a decadent Italian affogato mocha.
  • Add coffee to fruitcake batter to amplify the richness and flavours. 


Quality matters

Coffee experts are quick to point out that not all coffees are equal. In particular, they advise using good quality, well-roasted beans - arabica is best. Arabica beans are grown at 1,300-1,700 metres above sea level, and have a more sophisticated and less harsh flavour than robusta.

Coffee brings many benefits: it provides more antioxidants than almost any other commonly-eaten food, may improve brain function, has been linked to a decreased risk of type 2 diabetes and improved symptoms in diseases such as Parkinson's disease. Drinking coffee is associated with improvements in mood and delayed onset (and possibly, to some degree, with prevention) of Alzheimer's disease. So why not explore the possibilities of coffee beyond the mug or takeaway cup, and cook up a storm with some well-roasted beans, today?