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Creating a festive coffee blend

Coffee may not be the first thing that springs to mind when people think of foods and drinks associated with the festive period, with mulled wine, mince pies and roast turkeys likely beating them to the post.

However, there is no reason that coffee cannot be a wonderfully Christmassy beverage, even providing an alternative to mulled wine for teetotallers.

Head coffee trader at DRWakefield Santiago Barahona has recommended some of the best beans from around the world to use to create festively-flavoursome coffee.

Festive cupping profiles

Rich flavours such as cinnamon, nutmeg, chocolate, nuts, caramel, vanilla, dark berries and fruits are all often associated with Christmas and hints of them can be found within some of the world's finest coffees.

For those with a sweet tooth in need of a sugar hit to keep them warm during the winter months, Santiago recommends that beans sourced from the Guatemalan highlands with their notes of chocolate and caramel would be the perfect match.

He adds that Kenyan coffee with base notes of chocolate and dark fruits, such as blackcurrant, could provide drinkers with a beverage reminiscent of Black Forest flavours, while Natural Fancy beans from Ethiopia can add intense blueberry-centred notes.

For more of a nutty flavour, Santiago suggests Brazilian beans with notes of hazelnuts, as well as caramel and subtle hints of cherry would hit the spot, while such coffee could also form the basis of a beverage for those after something with more of a kick.

Santiago says that using Brazilian coffee with a nutty taste – or Indian beans which are well known for a cupping profile reminiscent of nuts – and adding a drop of whisky into the mix would create a beverage for those missing the alcoholic element of mulled wine in their festive drink.

When asked what his ultimate Christmas blend would involve, Santiago explained that he would use nutty Brazilian beans as the basis of the drink, before adding cocoa and caramel flavours from Guatemala, finishing off with more chocolate and notes of dark berries from Kenyan coffee.

Creating mulled coffee

Although mulled wine has become somewhat synonymous with Christmas over the years, mulled coffee is arguably less so.

However, this is a great drink for roasters to serve in their coffee shops or at Christmas market stalls to give them an edge over others in the industry, while also keeping customers warm and full of festive cheer.

To create mulled coffee, beans with cupping profiles similar to those recommended by Santiago should be used to create the base of the beverage, with hot water poured over them in a cafetiere in the usual way.

Joey Jackson of Sheffield's Golden Harvest Espresso Bar shared his mulled coffee recipe on the London Coffee Festival's website.

He recommends that for the next stage of the process – bearing in mind that these quantities of spices apply if 28 grams of fresh roasted coffee is being used – five grams of dried cinnamon bark, one gram of nutmeg, three slices of orange rind and four whole cloves should be added into the mix, allowing their tantalising flavours to be infused with the coffee as the liquid is stirred.

The beverage should then be left for two to three minutes to enable the spices to take their full effect on the beans, before plunging the cafetiere and pouring the finished creation into a decanter, leaving behind the spices and sediment.

For a festive finishing touch, Joey suggests taking a leftover piece of orange peel, holding it close to the surface of the beverage and lighting a flame while squeezing the rind will allow extra sweet flavour to be released, creating a wonderfully Christmassy coffee.

Photo credit: Thinkstock/DredK