coffee: trickle-down effect

Entrepreneurs are taking advantage of our coffee mania, writes Kate Gibbs.

A coffee-flavoured condom was released in Ethiopia aimed at encouraging safer sex – a move considered to be a resounding success and attributed to the popularity of coffee.

As coffee-geek culture percolates across the globe, a new breed of inventor is jumping on the coffee wagon. Syrups and liquors, cupcake flavours and sweets, even stout and lager are getting an injection of the most socially acceptable drug.

As the coffee condom was launched, some locals were riled by the invention, saying it was not in keeping with the respect the drink deserved. But as the hype around the drink seems as much a sure thing as the population’s need for a morning caffeine hit, it’s no wonder entrepreneurs are busy.

Coffee and chocolate are natural partners, appearing as a pair in chocolate-covered coffee beans and the likes of tiramisu, for example. In the US, a new product takes that relationship to a new level with the invention of a “chocolate” bar that is made with coffee instead of chocolate.

KA-POW!, which can be ordered online at Sahagun Chocolates, treats coffee beans as though they are cocoa beans. The resulting bar looks like chocolate, melts like chocolate and snaps like chocolate but with the full and rich flavour and caffeine of coffee.

A golden age of coffee has inspired the world’s most popular drink manufacturers to create new drinks. The addition of ground coffee beans to beer during brewing amps up beer’s existing coffee nuances while imparting a kiss of caffeine. Foster’s Matilda Bay Brewery has released a limited-edition brew, Longshot, with coffee roaster Toby’s Estate.

A US-based roasting company is putting coffee husk on the market for use in tea. Usually fed to goats or used to fertilise soil, the coffee berry husks are sold as qishr, which has been brewed in tea with sweet spices such as ginger in Yemen and Ethiopia for centuries. Not yet available in Australia, qishr is said to taste like fig and date, with an earthy flavour, which needs sweetening.

As the daily grind becomes an international pastime, and as coffee drinkers weigh up single origins and compare ristrettos with doppios, coffee is appearing outside the cappuccino cup and in other unlikely forms.

Without that obsession we wouldn’t have chocolate-covered coffee beans. And we certainly wouldn’t have coffee-flavoured condoms.

This article first appeared in Good Living in The Sydney Morning Herald on 19 July 2010.