The Joy of Coffee
Coffee is the most consumed beverage in Germany, ahead of water and beer, and even has a day dedicated to it; this Saturday the 29th of September is international coffee day. Once a commodity, coffee has now established itself as an artisinal foodstuff, like wine or cheese. During my visit to the Brasserie Le Faubourg for this month’s Collection Culinaire, the espresso I ordered at the end of the meal – which arrived strong and hot, with a selection of delicious little fruit tarts – was the cherry on the cake, if you’ll pardon the pun. The Concorde also do a cracking latte macchiato; I make time for one in the stylish lobby every time I’m there. The lobby is, in my opinion, better than any coffee shop for miles around, with its impressive selection of artwork from Katrin Kampmann and Junior Toscanelli, not to mention eye-catching sculptures by Dietrich Klinge. This week, in honour of international coffee day, I decided to find out more about coffee at Concorde; in particular, their unique coffee cocktail.
When I went along to chat to head barman, Nico Wieduwilt, his first question was “Hot or cold?” It was a warm autumnal day, so I ordered the iced variety. “Alles klar,” he winked and, quick as a flash, began adding a dash of this and a splash of that, before blending it all up and pouring it into an ice cold cup on the bar in front of me. “What’s in it?” I wasn’t sure how closely he guarded the recipe but decided to throw caution to the wind, “Well, coffee of course, milk, hazelnut liqueur, white chocolate sirup and cracked red pepper,” here, he raises a pepper grinder high over the cup and begins twisting, curly red shavings land artistically, “the finishing touch.”
I have my misgivings (pepper and coffee??) but decide to trust his judgement. He knows what he’s doing, after all; I still haven’t forgotten those tasty peppermint and jasmine cocktails from the Vogue Fashion’s Night Out event last week. It’s refreshing, smooth and slightly alcoholic; perfect for the warm summer months. “Now that I’m here,” I begin, “it seems silly not to try the hot one too…” Nico Wieduwilt agrees and reaches for a new cup, a warm one this time from the top of the coffee machine.
The coffee, hazelnut liqueur and white chocolate sirup stay the same, but, instead of blending the milk in with the rest, he goes over to the coffee machine and begins foaming it, thick and white. Once the red pepper has been sprinkled on top, it’s ready to try. The taste is almost exactly the same – just the right amount of sweetness, alcohol and, of course, coffee – but the consistency is very different, it’s warm and comforting and perfect for winter. I thank Nico Wieduwilt for two delicious drinks and swear not to tell a soul about the top secret Concorde coffee cocktail recipe…