Take Five with Coffee Maven Hanna Neuschwander

The author of Left Coast Roast shares her favorite coffee-centric collaborations, from ice cream to IPA.

By Allison Jones September 4, 2012

Welcome to Take Five, a new Eat Beat feature that offers up five must-try tips from culinary experts around town. This week local coffee guru Hanna Neuschwander, author of Left Coast Roast: A Guide to the Best Coffee and Roasters from San Francisco to Seattle (Timber Press; $16.95; 296 pages), shares five coffee collaborations worthy of your attention.

"Coffee isn’t a lonely beverage: it’s practically designed to cohabitate, " says Neuschwander. "It goes well with cream, with sugar or honey, with spices, with BBQ sauce, with beer, with spirits, with crossaints. Much of the vanguard of coffee at the moment is focused on considering coffee all on its own—plain, appreciated for all of its unadorned complexity. But that doesn’t change the fact that it plays well with others."

Here are some of Hanna's favorite collaborative efforts that bring high-quality coffee together with other ingredients:

1. KAPOW by Sahagun

Local chocolatemaker Elizabeth Montes of Sahagun has come up with an ingenious way to present coffee in a chocolate context. Her Kapow Bar looks exactly like a bar of chocolate—but isn’t. The bar uses cocao butter to bind together sugar and finely ground single origin coffees from local roasters like Water Avenue and Extracto. The result tastes a lot like a chocolate-covered espresso bean, but has a much more exciting texture: Pleasantly gritty—almost crunchy—and creamy at the same time. Using single origin coffees give each batch of bars their own unique flavor, but they always balance a hint of cocoa bitterness with a kiss of sweetness.

2. Coffee & Burbon Ice Cream by Salt & Straw

Coffee and ice cream are old friends, but Salt & Staw ups the ante with this flavor, adding chocolate and burbon into the mix. The recipe combines a Stumptown single-origin Sumatran coffee from the Gajah Aceh region, with Portland's HolyKakow Chocolate and a lot of Burnside Bourbon from Eastside Distilling. Sumatran coffees are known for the bigness of their flavor, so it’s a natural choice for pairing with other ingredients. 

3. Koppi Coffee IPA by Mikeller

I depart from the purely local here to highlight one of my favorite recent coffee collaborations—a coffee IPA by the Danish beer auteur Mikeller. I have to admit I’ve never been a fan of typcial coffee beers, usually stouts and porters. So this beer changed my view of how two of my otherwise favorite beverages can get along. The collaboration uses a single origin Ethiopian coffee from the Swedish microroaster Koppi. The taste plays on the natural bitterness of the coffee and the bitter IPA style, with hints of grapefruit and juniper and spice, and it finishes with a pungent splash of coffee and smoke. The flavor unfolds as you go—just like a good coffee does. Mikeller beers can usually be found at Belmont Station, John’s Market, Zupans, and other places with an extensive beer selection.

4. Chocolate Espresso Cake by Bakeshop
Kim Boyce, the pastry wizard behind Bakeshop on Northeast Sandy, cooks up muffins, croissants, and hand pies that feature healthy whole grains and seasonal fruits. But her Chocolate Espresso Cake couldn't taste less like something good for you. Rich, full-throated chocolate is married with Ristretto Roasters' Beaumont Blend coffee in a moist, spongy cake that's as light as a cloud on your tongue. Find this little slice of heaven at Bakeshop and all three Portland Ristretto cafes. 

5. Ginger Cup

Portland drinksmaster Kelley Swenson, who mans the bar at Spirit of 77, combines homemade coffee syrup with ginger and bourbon for a fresh take on a classic drink. Use high-proof bourbon (90-101 proof) to balance the sweet, bitter, and spice of the other ingredients.

To make the ginger cup:

2 oz bourbon 
3/4 oz coffee syrup
Ginger beer
Seltzer water

In a double rocks glass add the whiskey and coffee syrup. Stir. Add ice and fill with ginger beer. Top with a splash of soda.

To make the coffee syrup, pick a good quality coffee that can stand up to the other ingredients—aim for a blend, or a single origin coffee from Latin America; steer away from any coffee that lists more delicate fruit or floral flavors in the tasting notes. Brew according to your preferred method, then combine 1 part hot coffee to 1 part granulated sugar and stir until disolved. Bottle and refrigerate. 

Crave more coffee tips? We're giving away a copy of Left Coast Roast: A Guide to the Best Coffee and Roasters from San Francisco to Seattle to one of our readers (a $16.95 value). Here's how to enter: Simply leave a comment on this article sharing your favorite local roaster or coffee collaboration, and we'll pick a winner at random by Friday.

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