Whey Cool

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Were a coffee and cheese (and ultimately, coffee cheese) project to emerge out of the greater coffee world, that project is almost guaranteed to originate in Denmark. “It’s the most classic combination in Denmark, to have rye bread with cheese and a cup of coffee,” says Klaus Thomsen, Copenhagen’s resident coffee celebrity and the founder of roasting company The Coffee Collective. Denmark is known for producing good cheese, and thanks to Thomsen, the Danes are also earning a reputation as purveyors of fine micro-roasted beans.

CoffeeCheseEarlier this year Thomsen, 2006 World Barista Champion, took it upon himself to take coffee-cheese rapport to the next level. In collaboration with Mads Østergaard-Clausen, innovation manager at cheese maker Unika, Thomsen set out to create coffee cheeses blending Coffee Collective’s direct-trade roasts with some of the region’s best dairy. Still in its prototype phase, the project’s two initial blends combined a full-bodied Yukro from Ethiopia and flowery Finca Vista Hermosa from Guatemala into about seventy-seven pounds of cheese. The cheeses will age for eight months and, if matured well, the recipes will make it to the next phase of production.

According to Thomsen, the relationship between the two is naturally complementary. “When you eat good cheese your mouth is getting covered by fats from the cheese,” he says. “When you then drink a warm liquid after, the fats dissolve and both cleanse your mouth and release some retronasal aromas.” He sees cheese and coffee as superior to more obvious pairings, like cheese and wine, and cites the most difficult aspect of the innovative project as the wait to see how the blends work out. “It’ll be a while before this is available to the public,” says Thomsen, “But good things come to those who wait—as the cheese guys reminded me.”