Pairing Cigars with Coffee
Cigars are an exceptional product, fashioned with extensive nourishing from the earth and careful human handling. They go through the hands of expert farmers to experienced cigar rollers to entrepreneurial enthusiasts opening small cigar shops across the country and finally to the smoker for easy enjoyment.
A cigar's flavor, composition and smoke are micro-nuanced, with each cigar suited to a different smoker. Each individual slowly develops his or her palate for a type, size or brand of cigar, depending on mood and time of day.
Nonetheless, cigars do not exist in a vacuum; they can be paired with or compliment various other pleasures, such as a food, liquor or coffee. Much of a cigar's paring with other items will depend on personal preferences. However, keep in mind that each of these types of pairings has different implications and should be considered carefully. For instance, in this article we'll focus on cigars and coffee in particular. Both products have an abundance of complexity individually but, when combined, the culmination can be truly captivating.
A cigar is an agricultural product grown for flavors that range from mild to robust, sugary to peppery, simple to complex. Cigars can change flavor during the progression of the smoke and may also range in their effect on the smoker: from relaxing to invigorating. Their properties are determined by the growing climate or harvest region; the particular leafs used to wrap; and their aging process, along with several other factors. A multitude of cigar options provide various features for smokers to explore.
Similarly, the coffee bean is grown and produced in an agricultural process. Like a cigar, the composition of coffee is determined by where the beans are grown and how exactly the coffee cherry turns into a bean.
The flavor of a cup of coffee most commonly ranges from soft to stout, nutty to fruity, and sweet to acidic. Coffee may also have several flavors in one cup, each sip hitting different notes, with variations from the initial taste to the aftertaste.
Enjoying a cigar with cup of coffee offers a unique pairing because the flavors often overlap and complement each other very well. Each has levels of spice, an essential earthy quality and acidity, all balanced by a host of other flavors that evolve throughout consumption. Again, specific pairings depend much on the taste preferences of the cigar smoker and coffee drinker.
A simple method for approaching the selection process is to look for similarities between the two tastes. For example, a sweet, mild cigar with a Connecticut wrapper will pair well with a similarly flavored, perhaps fruity, light roast of coffee.
A medium bodied cigar, nutty and/or slightly peppery in flavor, wrapped with a Habano leaf will compliment a medium roast nut or cocoa-based coffee. And a deep, dark Maduro wrapper, that is rather leathery and spicy, will synthesize well with a full-bodied roast with more acidic qualities. Listed below are some delicious pairings we've found based on this simple organizing principle.
- The Partagas 1845 Extra Oscuro with a dark roast coffee. This is an excellent cigar. Its Dominican oscuro wrapper speaks for itself, and its flavor is dense with spice: a blend of earthy, leathery and peppery tastes. The cigar's effect is strong and invigorating, especially paired with the full-bodied roast. And yet the combination commonly delivers a hint of sweetness too, perhaps coco - depending on the brew.
- The Romeo Y Julieta Aniversario with a cup of medium roasted cup. The Aniversario has an Ecuadorian-grown Sumatra wrapper and features a blend of Nicaraguan, Dominican and Peruvian long-fillers. The smoke is rich and the flavor very dynamic with earthy and nutty tones. With the medium roast coffee, the pairing is often relatively light and deliciously savory.
- A stronger cigar, like the Perdomo Habano, goes well with a medium to dark roasted brew. This cigar is made from a Cuban-seed grown in Nicaragua with a flavorful Connecticut shade wrapper that is dominantly leathery - very smooth. The medium/dark roast coffee should emphasize and harmonize with the cigar's inherent earthiness.
- Combining the AJ Fernandez San Lotano Habano with a dark roast bean is rare and utterly captivating. The Habano ligero leaf wrapper is grown only in Brazil and boasts a flavor profile that's deep and very woody infused with subtle hints of leather. A dark "cup of joe," preferably hand-pressed, goes extraordinarily well with this cigar. Interestingly, the rich wood and leather flavors of the cigar will emphasize most any cup of coffee.
All in all, these are just guidelines. There are limitless combinations you can try when it comes to pairing cigars and coffee, but it all comes down to your distinct palette, what you like and what you want more of. Whether morning, night or afternoon, discover the diversity and nuances in each smoke, each cup and bask in the perfect blend.