Cuba is one place I’ve yet to visit but guests of the coffee capsule brand Nespresso had a taste of Cuban hospitality without even having to leave the capital.
OK. So we were in East London but clever set dressers had transformed a warehouse space into something of a film set to allow us to live, breathe and taste their new product – Cubania. The idea was an excellent way to get the concept of their new coffee across to the assembled crowd and there were a series of rooms and different experiences with talks by their coffee experts.
Everywhere you looked there was a taste of Cuba.
Including a work of art which developed throughout the day and night.
For those of you who know nothing about the Nespresso brand, please do take a look at my earlier blog on the machines and the Grand Crus.
This new capsule is a dark blend which now takes the record, reaching a whopping 13 on their intensity scale. Kazaar Grand Cru is now knocked off the top spot, being beaten by just one more level, and this new hit of caffeine has broken the mould for their developers.
It may not have any beans from Cuba in the blend (the country simply cannot produce enough) but the makers behind Nespresso coffee have tried to capture the essence of the Cuban way of life and the coffee ritual.
During our first experience we met Alexis Rodriguez (on the left) who is from Colombia and is the Green Coffee Quality and Development Manager at Nespresso. He’s responsible for product development and quality control. He also creates the Grands Crus, Limited Editions and single origins for the company, so it’s him and his team we have to thank for Cubania. It’s in his session that he uses musicians to explain how Cubans enjoy their coffee and how the rhythm can be matched to different blends – a slower tempo = a heavier bodied, intense coffee. The other professional in the room is Eric Hansen (on the right) a travel writer who talks about his love of salsa dancing. Having been to Cuba on his travels he explains the Spanish word sabroso, means tasty and delicious, and relates to both coffee and dance – it’s often mentioned to a dancing partner if the salsa moves are particularly good!
In the next room there was an opportunity to make Jelly with Bompas and Parr, and it really was great fun to make two kinds of jelly using the latest techniques.
This contraption wasn’t used in the making of our jelly but added to the eccentric scientist feel.
We hear from Karsten Ranitzsch head of Coffee at Nestle Nespresso, as you’d expect he’s passionate about achieving the perfect cup of premium quality coffee. It’s his job to devise Grand Cru studying processing methods, new varieties of bean and terrains, and working with the farmers who work the land. He lets us loose with a little alcohol to make a few different drinks using Cubania pods.
Next up, we get to meet Edouard Thomas whose palate really should be insured for millions. It’s his job at Nespresso to develop, train and maintain the high level of tasting expertise in green coffee cupping, the development of blends and finished products. It’s in his session that we’re shown the different flavours that the same blend ground coffee produces – in a French press (or cafetiere) and from a professional coffee machine.
Michal Pivrnec is a Senior Sensory Technician at Nespresso and his life’s work (he’s still very young) is all about coffee – from the bean to the cup. He’s a certified barista and is also a judge at the national barista competitions – I’m not sure he thought much of my barista skills but he let me try, all the same.
It’s when we sit and drink the Nespresso Cubania from the capsule that the intensity and flavours change completely – there really is no comparison.
The way to drink this coffee, Cuban-style, is to take extract a 25ml ristretto, mixing it with cane sugar, then adding a further 25ml ristretto and pouring it over the coffee and sugar mixture.
To determine the intensity of the coffee, the experts at Nespresso use a mild Colombian bean, which they know will take a long roast yet still deliver on taste. To complement that, they add a mild Arabica and to that a high-end Indian Robusta which is slowly steam-treated to enhance the intensity to the highest level. It’s this blend that delivers a rich, creamy hit.
I enjoyed the Cubania cafe-style, with 25ml of hot milk which delivered a sweet, caramel hit. Simply prepared alone the complexity of the flavours really are best savoured in a 25ml measure.
After we’re treated to a few more delicious cocktails, the main room was transformed into a dining room where we were treated to a fabulous three course meal, one of the courses is the coffee jelly we made earlier.
The Salsa dancers were great to watch too.
If you’re dying to get your hands on the Cubania taste, you won’t have too long to wait, the pods are launched here in the UK in September 2014.
Earlier, I described our Cubania experimental session – here’s the cocktail recipe Nespresso shared with us.
Nespresso Cubaccino (or as I called it Cheeky Monkey)
If you don’t have a Aeroccino (milk frother attached to the larger machines) you can still make this but obviously need to whip up your milk using another method.
They use molasses, I’ve tried it with maple syrup and it’s fabulous so you’ll need.
1 teaspoon of Maple Syrup
2 capsule of Nespresso Cubania Limited Edition Grand Cru
1 teaspoon of Banana Syrup
Add the maple syrup to the cup
Extract a 40ml espresso measure of Cubania on top
If you have an aeroccino, put in the banana syrup and create froth. If you don’t do the same but using the alternative method.
Take one spoon of the aerated milk froth and put it in your cup (or as many as can fit)
Drizzle Maple syrup on top of the milk froth to finish.