When caffeine cravings hit, consider pairing your favourite brew with something sweet – like a diamond or two of Lindt Excellence! We asked Sam James, owner of Sam James Coffee Bar, for his expert java-chocolate pairings. Sam James Coffee Bar roasts its own beans, and is a Toronto pioneer in the third wave coffee movement, which treats coffee as an artisanal product at every stage, from growing through harvesting, processing, roasting and brewing. Here are his top three pairing picks:
The freshly pulled espresso and hot water of an Americano – without milk and sugar – is just the thing to hold its own against this intense dark chocolate. Sam says, “The rich, deep flavour of the 95% bar pairs really well with an Americano, and it highlights the espresso’s natural sweetness.” Coffee Picks: Sam recommends his SJCB In Bloom beans: “It’s a naturally sweet coffee with notes of cotton candy, Turkish delight and vanilla.” It’s the perfect complement for the deep aromas of coffee beans and charcoal that are found in the 95% bar. Alternatively, Starbucks True North Blend is a balanced, mellow option with notes of soft cocoa and lightly toasted nuts that contrast nicely against this intense bar.
The caramel crunch of this bar, and its bursts of hand-harvested Atlantic sea salt, pair deliciously with an espresso-based drink. Sam recommends a cortado, made of equal parts espresso and equal parts steamed milk. He adds, “It has a nice creamy peanut buttery flavour and richness, which tastes great alongside the caramel and sea salt.” Coffee Picks: A great base for making cortado is Sam James Coffee Bar’s house blend, SJCB Butter Knife. Van Houtte Dolce Crema Superiore Espresso does the same with smooth notes of hazelnut.
The subtler coffee flavour of an iced latte is a nice balance for Lindt Excellence Sea Salt, which has earthy aromas and hints of vanilla and salt toffee. Sam suggests switching up a regular iced latte by ordering it with oat milk, which is trendy, naturally sweet and stocked at most indie cafes. Coffee Picks: A pairing with SJCB Ethiopia is sweet and refreshing, and the lighter coffee taste blends nicely with the savoury chocolate taste that comes through in this salty bar. For a buzz-free alternative, Canadian brand Kicking Horse offers a Decaf blend with notes of roasted hazelnut that make for a nice mix with the sea salt.