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 complement various other pleasures, such as food, liquor, or coffee. Much of a cigar’s pairing 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 leaf used to wrap, and their aging process, along with several other factors. A multitude of cigar options provides 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 a cup of coffee offers a unique pairing because the flavors often overlap and complement each other very well.
Each has levels of spice, 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.
Choosing the Finest Pairing for Your Palette
A simple method for approaching the selection process is to look for similarities between the two tastes. For example, a sweet and 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.
To further guide you for a proper cigar and coffee pairing, I have put together a list of not just some great cigar recommendations, but which variety of coffee will complement them best. To achieve the optimal coffee and cigar pairing, you need to first know about the coffee.
Espresso & Dunbarton Mi Querida Triqui Traca
Being an Italian American, espresso has become more than just coffee; it is almost a spiritual experience. Your typical American Starbucks drinker doesn’t truly understand what espresso even is.
Espresso is not a type of bean, but in fact, it is a process of making the coffee. Espresso is made by forcing extremely hot water through finely-ground coffee. The result is a powerful, rich “shot” of espresso.
Due to the smaller size but higher concentration, you get a higher caffeine count and therefore a stronger cup. I like two sugars in my espresso, so when pairing a cigar, I want something strong, rich, bold, and sweet.
I went with the new Triqui Traca from the Dunbarton Mi Querida line. The dark, broadleaf wrapper adds in notes of espresso, milk chocolate, and a bold, rich sweetness. The strength is also on par with the espresso, so it will help you get through the rest of your day.
Macchiato & Joya de Nicaragua Clasico
The macchiato has gained some popularity in the US over the past few years due to its prevalence at coffee shops. However, most of these are covered in caramel sauce or somehow involve pumpkin.
A true macchiato consists of two shots of espresso in a cup, followed by a drop of steamed milk and a dash of foam on top. This results in a combination of rich and strong espresso notes that combine with smooth and creamy flavors for the best of both worlds.
The words creamy and smooth were really important when choosing a cigar, and it resulted in me picking the perfect one. The Joya de Nicaragua Clasico is smooth, mellow and creamy. This cigar has notes of nuts, coffee, and vanilla. It’s the perfect morning pairing for the coffee and cigar nut.
Cappuccino & Room 101 Farce Connecticut
Cappuccino is probably the most well-known beverage on this list, at least in terms of fancier coffee drinks. The weird part is that it is essentially the same drink as a macchiato.
However, it uses more milk, and it is then topped with some cinnamon or a dusting of chocolate. This adds in some sweet flavors, as well as a dash of zest from the cinnamon.
Due to the combination of rich, creamy, sweet, and bold flavors, choosing the cigar for this pairing took a bit of time. However, I finally landed on the Farce Connecticut from Room 101.
While the Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper makes it smooth and creamy; the dash of Nicaraguan filler, along with Dominican and American tobaccos, gives both a level of sweetness and a slight zest, that makes it a complex partner for the drink.
Mocha & Onyx Bold Nicaragua
While the actual Mocha beverage is not something you generally see millennials ordering at the local shop, the use of Mocha as a flavoring has become quite popular. This time of year, a Mocha is actually one of my favorite beverages.
It is essentially a combination of cappuccino and some hot chocolate, similar to a Dunkaccino, but just better. This gives you that caffeine jolt and coffee flavor along with the rich chocolate notes from the hot chocolate.
For this pairing, I needed something dark, bold, rich, and strong. So I gravitated towards the all-new Onyx Bold Nicaragua.
It’s dark, San Andres Maduro wrapper gives it all the rich flavors you need, including a combination of dark chocolate, espresso, a little sweetness, and a touch of spice. This is going to be a great matchup in the colder months.
Americana & Diamond Crown Maduro
I actually find the concept of American coffee to be quite hilarious. This is because it can be used to describe two different varieties. In the US, an Americana is made using the drip technique and typically needs to be mixed with milk, cream, or sugar in order to have any taste to it. This is the typical coffee you make at home or get at a diner.
In Italy, if you order an Americana, they just take a shot of espresso, followed by two to three cups of just hot water. Essentially, they are calling us weak, and they aren’t wrong.
The typical Americana coffee is a medium roast, usually with cream and or sugar. This creates a balanced, slightly sweet, rich and creamy blend.
So, I went straight for one of my old favorites, the Diamond Crown Maduro.
This luxurious brand from JC Newman is rolled by Arturo Fuente. Its uses of aged Dominican fillers along with a Broadleaf binder gives it that perfect balance of mellow, smooth, rich, and sweet.