Coffee and wine: closer than you think



It’s no secret that, some 300 years ago, Berry Bros. & Rudd began life as a purveyor of coffee – the sign of the mill still hangs outside our door – so we were interested to see new parallels being drawn between the worlds of coffee and wine. Emily Monsell reports.

“Smooth, spicy, rich and intense” or “light-bodied, zesty and fresh”, these are the sorts of terms you’ll be used to seeing on wine lists up and down the country, but these punchy descriptors are starting to creep into the realms of the humble coffee shop too, and it’s not uncommon to spot coffee and cake matching on menus nowadays either.

The uber-cool cafés and small-scale roasters dotting every street corner of East London are proof that passionate people have been talking about coffee in much the same way as wine for some time now – but this trend is evolving, with bars such as Black White Red in Winchester offering a ‘dual’ experience; coffee by day, wine by night – and they even make coffee recommendations based on your wine preferences.  Like Pinot Noir? You’ll love Ethiopian Yirgacheffe. More of an Aussie Shiraz sort? Get stuck in to some Sumatran Mandheling. Because the similarities between wine and coffee don’t end with the adjectives used to describe them.

Terroir is a concept that is as vital to coffee as it is to wine. All of the world’s coffee is produced in what is known as ‘the bean belt’, between the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, but the soil, altitude and cultivation of the beans makes the world of difference… and that’s before you even get to the roasting stage. High altitude, volcanic soils, such as those around Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, tend to produce coffees with characteristic acidity and citrus aromas, whereas beans grown in Peru will often have a smoother, richer, more chocolaty depth to them. In fact, the art of ‘cupping’ (that’s coffee tasting to you and me) is as serious a process as wine tasting, with equally interesting side effects if you ‘forget’ to spit.

So if you fancy trying something new it might be worth looking to your wine choices to determine your morning brew. Ditch the bog standard ‘medium roast’ and start delving in to the world of single origin coffees – and if you’re stuck then there’s an emerging world of experts out there on hand to help.

Our giant coffee scales, which can still be seen at No.3, were used to weigh goods and, more recently, customers.

Our giant coffee scales, which can still be seen at No.3, were used to weigh goods and, more recently, customers.