Forget Red Wine: This New Coffee Blend Goes Surprisingly Well With Beef

Nespresso's got limited-edition blends that we got to try at Helm.

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PHOTO BY Nespresso

(SPOT.ph) Know how some food and drink pairings are just tried and tested? When you think of hot and savory meals, for example, wine seems to be the automatic beverage of choice. And when you’re sipping on hot coffee, chances are you’d order cake or other desserts to go on the side. But is there any real reason you can’t switch things up and, say, have your meat or fish alongside a hot cup of joe? We had the opportunity to do just that at a recent dinner held by Nespresso over at Helm, in line with the launch of the coffee-brand's new limited-edition Aged Sumatra and Papua New Guinea variations of their Master Origin Blends.

Also read: Java Look: Nespresso Just Opened a New Shop in QC and It's a Brew-Tiful Sight

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Nespresso recently came out with new and limited-edition blends highlighting the regions of Sumatra and Papua New Guinea.  
PHOTO BY Nespresso
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Here’s how Helm paired savory dishes with the new limited edition coffees of Nespresso:

Helm, of course, needs no introduction; the fine dining establishment is praised for their clever ways in the kitchen using seasonal produce. Helmed—pun very much intended—by Chef Josh Boutwood (also of The Test Kitchen and Savage), the 10-seater restaurant serves up contemporary bites prepared right before your eyes by Boutwood and team, who keep the lines open between you and their kingdom-kitchen. Helm was also among the Filipino establishments included in the 2021 edition of the esteemed 50 Best Discovery List.

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Helm is spearheaded by Chef Josh Boutwood, who was hailed among the Young Talents of the Year in international restaurant guide La Liste’s 2021 awards.
PHOTO BY Nespresso

For the launch of the new Nespresso blends, the Helm team whipped up a six-course affair highlighting said coffee and showcasing their great hand in the kitchen. And rather than incorporate the coffee directly into their dishes ("that would be sacrilege," he tells us), Boutwood designed it such that selected courses from the meal are made to be paired with the coffee—i.e. by alternating bites of the former with sips of the latter, just like you would with wine.

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Following starter bites (“snacks”) that featured seafood like cured fish and plump mussels, Boutwood served up two impactful small plates: the Tuna, Avocado, Cilantro, a zingy composition of the fish and crisp tapioca-pearl crackers; and the Adlai, Purple Yam, Octopus with a hearty, nutty porridge of said ingredients plus popped sorghum for pops of crunch.

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We began with Helm's seafood-starring snacks. 
PHOTO BY Patricia Baes
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Star starters included the Tuna, Avocado, Cilantro course that had us in for a zingy-creamy ride…
PHOTO BY Patricia Baes
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...And the Adlai, Purple Yam, Octopus with a stick-to-your-ribs porridge of adlai (job's tears) and ube.
 
PHOTO BY Patricia Baes
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You can't eat at Helm and not have their signature sourdough, served with house butter. 
PHOTO BY Patricia Baes

Soon, a seafood course arrives at the table—the Chilean Sea Bass, Celeriac, Kombu, Hazelnut, where the fish is simply steamed until succulent, then paired with celeriac puree and a velvety sauce that’s made umami by kombu (seaweed). And with it, surprise, surprise, is Nespresso’s Master Origin Papua New Guinea—a special blend of classic Arabica coffee from Arabica varieties, which deliver nutty, berry-esque sips and a fairly supple body. “We wanted the coffee to fill in the gaps that we purposely left in the dish,” Chef Boutwood explains—and because of the coffee’s nuttiness, it brings out the toastiness of the hazelnuts while adding depth to the otherwise milder, lighter profile of the sea bass. The heat of the coffee paired with the umami, seafood-y profile of the fish also brought to mind how Japanese meals are typically served with miso soup on the side.

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The Chilean Sea Bass, Celeriac, Kombu & Hazelnut pairs what might be the softest sea bass ever with a creamy-umami sauce and toasted hazelnuts. 
PHOTO BY Patricia Baes
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We loved how the fruity-nutty profile of the Nespresso Papua New Guinea blend brought out the toastiness of the hazelnuts and lent depth to the fish. 
PHOTO BY Patricia Baes
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The following dish—a course of Short Rib, Cauliflower, and Cacao—fell on the more robust end of the spectrum, with aged short rib that was cooked low and slow for three days; with it came elements of raw cacao and a puree of cauliflower, which they deliberately "burnt" to bring out its natural sweetness. Nespresso’s Master Origin Aged Sumatra—a similarly robust blend with wet-hulled Arabica beans from Gayo Mountain, Sumatra that are aged five years—amazingly stood up to the boldness of the beef without taking over thanks to its woody, almost tobacco-like profile that starts mellow but unveils its full-bodied character as you continue to sip. (In Boutwood's words: "It's like an alarm clock that wakes you up with a punch—but a very soft one.") And we don’t need to tell you how coffee and chocolate are a natural pair; the cacao element in the beef and the Nespresso coffee fit together perfectly, like adjacent pieces of a puzzle.

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Helm cooked beef short rib for three days, making for a tender bite—and finished it on the grill for a hint of char. 
PHOTO BY Patricia Baes
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The Nespresso Master Origins Aged Sumatra blend—which is at once delicate yet powerful in impact—harmonized real beautifully with and echoed the robustness of the meat.
PHOTO BY Patricia Baes
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Sweet endings came by way of the charcoal-imbued, pitch-dark (yet surprisingly bright-tasting!) Black Grapes, Strawberry, Lemongrass… 
PHOTO BY Patricia Baes
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And the vibrant Textures of Coconut that had us on a tropical high.
PHOTO BY Patricia Baes

Curious about the new and limited-edition Nespresso blends? These can purchased at Nespresso’s boutiques around the Metro; alternatively, you can course your orders through their website. Capsules go for P45 each; you can also get a two-sleeve pack with both Master Origin variants for P900. These special blends won’t be around for long—you know what to do. 

For orders, visit Nespresso’s website. You can also check out their Facebook page.

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