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A little coffee with your Christmas?

Pair ground coffee with a variety of elements this festive season. Photo: supplied

Though you may not think of coffee beyond it's wake-up powers as a morning brew, it's a beverage with some 2,000 compounds--rivaling wine for its complexity.

"And during these strange times, at-home brewing is booming," said  Melitta Canada's Ian Buckingham. 

It's no wonder then, that coffee is being touted as a key ingredient for celebratory pairings this festive season--from cocktails to entrees. So whether it's sharing in person with family or on a virtual visit over Zoom, consider the bold beverage in different ways, said coffee expert Dan Pabst. He shares a few suggestions for pairings this holiday season.

Hazelnut Cream White Russian

Pabst suggests making a cold brew of hazelnut cream coffee--about 60 grams of ground coffee with 720 ml cold water. Leave in the fridge for 24 hours to create a cold brew concentrate--even use some of the brew to make coffee ice cubes for the cocktail. Then take 2 ounces vodka, one ounce of cold brew coffee and an ounce of heavy cream and voila, you have a dynamite adult beverage.

"Use a french press for an easy-to-make cold brew," he said. "And pair it with a platter of grapes, cheese, and other nibbles.'

Turkey time

A traditional turkey, pork or lamb can benefit from a hearty rub, said Pabst. "Coffee grounds can be part of a rub that will infuse flavour and liven up your favourite holiday meat," he said.

 For a mocha java spice rub, mix brown sugar, cumin, coriander, salt and pepper and a bit of espresso fine grind coffee.  Another barbecue-style rub includes the same fine grind coffee with brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, thyme, salt and pepper.

Don't match the coffee to the dessert

Say you're having vanilla shortbread cookies. Pabst said don't try to match that creamy flavour with a coffee of similar qualities. Instead, complement the cookie's richness with something bright, or acidic.

"Don't match a chocolate cake with coffee that has chocolate notes. Try something fruitier, and think of the coffee as like a glaze to the dessert. For the vanilla shortbread, match it with a dark roast coffee. The smoky, full flavour is a good complement. You can also pair that same dark roast with a lemony, citrus dessert.  For a little extra, do a pour-over coffee right at the table, for dramatic impact as you share coffee and dessert with guests," he said.

As for storing the coffee, whole bean or ground, Pabst said keep it air tight, and away from sun and heat, to keep it fresher for longer.