The number of coffee and tea connoisseurs is about equal to the number of wine devotees, and just like wine these beverages add depth to any dish. The flavor notes of coffee add a robust, earthy flavor to both sweet and savory dishes, and tea creates grassy, herbal, sweet, and even smoky flavors in a dish. Cooking with coffee and tea provides an opportunity for the bar and kitchen to optimize merchandising and cut down on waste by working together. Adding these ingredients to your dishes will modernize your menu, appealing to the tastes of Millenials and Generation Z who are eager to try new and bold flavors.
Add flavor and a little bit of caffeine to meats by using coffee and tea in marinades, sauces, and braising liquids. As the liquid cooks, the coffee or tea will caramelize, adding depth of flavor. Create a unique dry rub using tea and coffee. Create a crispy, caramelized crust with a combination of ground coffee, salt, and paprika rubbed onto pork, steak, or burgers. Add cocoa to the mix to create a Mexican Mole inspired dish, or cinnamon for a Moroccan-inspired dish.
Combine tea leaves, salt, brown sugar, and garlic for a savory rub perfect for flank steaks, pork shoulder, or ribs. Each variety of tea will have a different flavor with lighter green teas lending a fresh taste and darker teas like Lapsang Souchong or Earl Grey providing a smoky flavor. Speaking of smoky flavor, tea leaves can be used to smoke meats like the traditional Sichuan dish, tea-smoked duck. Th e taste will be more delicate than that of wood smoked meats and is a perfect match for quail, turkey, pork loin, or chicken wings.
Teas, especially dark teas like oolong or black, have a strong robust flavor that pairs well with pepper and other spices. Grind dry tea leaves using a pepper mill or coffee grinder. Ground tea can be combined with a spice rub to add Asian flavor to beef, pork, and fish. See the recipe for Tea-Seared Rare Tuna on the following page for inspiration.
Infusing coffee or tea into dairy or stock adds flavor and fragrance to most any dish. A savory coffee note or a bright oaky aroma is easily added to a béchamel or cream sauce. Cream infused with herbal tea, or instant espresso powder provides the perfect base for desserts like crème brûlées and sweet ice creams. Coffee and tea can flavor butter to use as the base for a recipe or as a simple spread. Brewed tea can boost the flavor of a rich stock or add a hint of flavor to cooked grains like rice, barley, buckwheat, or quinoa.
Green tea pasta has a beautiful pale green color and subtle vegetal flavor that is ideal for rich soups or a spicy stir-fry. Use a traditional Japanese green tea soba noodle or make a green tea pasta in-house by adding green tea powder to pasta dough.
Instant espresso powder and powdered green tea will add flavor to desserts and baked goods without the risk of grittiness, as they dissolve completely in hot water. A small amount of espresso powder provides a rich undertone to brownies, cakes, cookies, and sweet sauces. Tea adds a subtle floral flavor or rich, smoky flavor depending on the variety used. Try a robust green tea, spicy chai, or a roasted oolong to flavor ice creams, cookies, frostings, and cakes.
Ultimately, tea and coffee are perfect for flavoring beverages. Tea can be used as an herb to flavor cocktails. Spirits can be steeped for weeks with dried tea leaves to add green, toasty, or smoky notes. Coffee cocktails are more than just hot coffee, booze, and cream. Coffee is an ingredient with elements of fruit flavors, acidity, and bitter notes that off er a lot of possibilities when crafting a cocktail. It can be used to make drinks like a simple espresso martini, a light fruity summer fizz, or hot creamy drink. Coffee and tea can be added to smoothies, milkshakes, and iced drinks adding a natural astringency and a complex bite.