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Coffee as an Ingredient

The Coffee CookbookBy Jim Parisi

It is no mystery that Costa Rica is renowned for its high-quality coffee production. Certainly, the cultivation of this bean has permitted opportunities for independence in this country and enjoying a café with friends and family is as much a part of Costa Rican culture as gallo pinto. Thanks to the publication of a new book, “The Coffee Cookbook”, the status of the coffee bean has been elevated even higher. The book is by authoress Yazmin Ross, with recipes by Camille A. Ratton, who is currently the chef at Restaurante Kalu. I must admit that I never thought of coffee as an ingredient in a recipe, but “The Coffee Cookbook” is so much more than just that.
Jaime Peligro Books and Music

In her Foreword, Yazmin explains to the reader that the coffee bean has not only body, but memory as well and after reading this book, I believe her. There are informative sections about the physical, biological construction of the bean itself, the various growing regions & roasting techniques. It reminded me of my winemakiing experiences in California and that connoisseurs of coffee are similar to aficionados of cheese or wine.

There are also informative chapters in this new book that deal with the many different styles and mechanisms to brew coffee in your home. It is also an invitation for the consumer to experiment with the art of coffee brewing. I truly learned a lot about the many facets of coffee by reading “The Coffee Cookbook”.

Chef Camille Ratton was born in Costa Rica and was trained at Cordon Bleu Paris. Her creativity in the twenty recipes offered in “The Coffee Cookbook” is impressive, to say the least. The asparagus quiche with coffee crust looks scrumptious and the Brochettes of Chicken Satay served with a Coffee Sauce (pictured on the cover) is mouth-watering. There are sections devoted to appetizers, main dishes and postres and a final section with a variety of coffee beverages.

I also think the photographers from the Green Photo Group, Karin Puschendorf and Estaban Fernandez, are to be commended. I have friends who are professional photographers and they all tell me that getting a food shot correct is more difficult than working with a Rock Star. But the photos are not just of the “finished product”; there are also photos of coffee throughout its life: from seedling to flowering to drying seeds and all the shots are pristine and seem to have a soul of their own, or a memory.

I also really like the black & white photos at the beginning and end of the book that were provided by Coffea Diversa, snapshots of famous people enjoying a cup of coffee: everyone from Obama to Chaplin to Fidel to Groucho to Sinatra to Che to Marley to Dylan to Einstein. And the point is provided in the pictures & Yazmin’s words: think of the political decisions, songs written, scientific theorems solved and historic decisions made alongside a cup or two of coffee.

The publishers at Rio Nevado made a point of recognizing ICAFE for their support in putting this important book together. It is available to the public at all three Jaime Peligro book stores. Buen provecho!

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