The versatility of coffee – a drink and a culinary ingredient

There are thousands of culinary ingredients in the world, but few are as popular and loved as coffee. Coffee beans are roasted and ground to make one of the world’s most popular beverages. With various styles of coffee prevalent in the world, the use of coffee as a drink is undoubtedly a blessing to mankind. However, it is not limited to this. Coffee is used as a flavoring in many sweet, baked and savory dishes, and although coffee is a drink par excellence, its use in the culinary arts is indispensable.

I stood on top of Baba Budangiri Peak in Chikmagalur, a district known for its vast coffee plantations in India, and thought of this worldly wonder bean, brought to the country from the city of Moka in Yemen by the Sufi saint in tribute to whom the crescent moon-shaped mountain range was named. Baba Budan brought seven coffee beans to India hidden in his beard, and these pioneer beans were planted in Karnataka, India’s coffee-producing state. The pure benefits of coffee, commercial, culinary, and the health benefits of drinking coffee (in moderation) testify to the brilliance and contribution of the 17th century Sufi saint Baba Budhan.

In South India, coffee plays an important role in people’s daily lives, as many start their day with a hot cup of strong, frothy filter coffee. Many local coffee brands are popular and successful, basing their production on locally grown coffees. Whether in Europe, North America, South America, Australia, Africa or Asia, coffee is valued for its energetic, healthy properties and deep, savory taste. Coffee is truly a global drink. Whether it’s crema espresso, frothy cappuccino, a latte or the good old Americano, many coffee lovers can attest to the wonderful effect a good cup of coffee has on their mood every time they get it. sip one.

For a Barista, good quality coffee beans are essential in stock; yet, coffee is essential, even for a chef or a baker. The Italian dessert called Tiramisu, which translates to “Pick me up,” takes its name from the stimulating coffee that goes into this popular and decadent dessert. Coffee cookies, waffles, muffins, madeleines, mousses, cakes, pies, cheesecakes, crème brûlée, crème caramel or a baked Alaska, taste fantastic with the sweet and deep notes of coffee. Almost any baked product can be flavored with coffee, and many bakers around the world are making creative use of coffee as a flavoring. Coffee flavored piping cream can work wonders when served over any baked treat, enhancing its taste and visual appeal.

Coffee-based cocktails are part of bar menus everywhere | Unsplash

Coffee as a flavor is versatile and works well with many different flavors. In ice cream, a coffee flavor is very desirable, combined with the nutty texture of nuts, and you have one of my favorite flavors of ice cream, coffee nuts. Coffee as a flavoring is also indispensable for a mixologist. Coffee-flavored liqueurs like Kahlua and Tia Maria can be found in every well-known bar around the world, and an espresso Martini can be found on most cocktail menus around the world. An Irish Coffee is about the skills of a mixologist to blend coffee with the complex flavors of an Irish whiskey. Garnishing a roasted coffee bean or coffee powder sprinkled on top adds flavor as well as a creative presentation to drinks and food. Milk and coffee are a perfect pairing, and it works great whether served hot or cold. Cold brew coffee or an affogato is a favorite of many coffee lovers around the world.


A surprising and unique use of coffee is on a hot stovetop. Creative chefs have used coffee well to make variations of sauces and spice rubs. Coffee-flavored mole sauce, coffee-marinated steak or lamb chops, coffee-flavored barbecue sauce, coffee-flavoured soup or stew, and breakfast dishes like baked bean may have a benefit unique with the flavors of coffee. With the rise of molecular gastronomy and the rise of ingredient-driven restaurants around the world, coffee as an ingredient can enhance flavors in dishes in the form of caviars, spheres, or mousse. Coffee is an exciting ingredient in all its different forms, and we can expect this wonderful ingredient to be used more creatively by chefs in the future.

Coffee, the energy-boosting drink, sets you up for a long day. Coffee can help you burn off the midnight oil. Coffee improves the mood and is often the witness of business meetings, social gatherings or romantic dates. For a foodie, the flavor of coffee is reminiscent of good meals and memorable gastronomic moments. The coffee is versatile and the coffee is effective. And it’s hard to find people who have never tasted and fallen in love with coffee. So, it is obvious that in coffee, we trust; as the famous saying goes, “A lot can happen over coffee”.

Sidharth Bhan Gupta, Founder of 361 Degrees Hospitality, is a Hospitality/Restaurant/Catering Consultant, traveling across India for cultural and culinary exploration.