Sunday, March 1, 2015

Coffee Black Bean Chili: Cooking with (Fundamental) Coffee for Souper (Soup, Salad, & Sammie) Sundays

 "Soup must be eaten boiling hot and coffee drunk piping hot."
Grimod de la Reynière

And, if you are making soup, or rather chili, with your coffee--then serve it nice and hot as well. I have been craving chili and had been wanting to make Mark Bittman's Espresso Black Bean Chili from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. Cooking with coffee is like cooking with wine--you should use a good quality one, that you like to drink--because if you don't like it in the cup, you won't like it in the dish you put it in. Fresh, roasted well, and brewed properly--really great coffee is a beautiful thing and what's exclusively in my coffee cup lately (and now my chili) is from Fundamental Coffee Company

Started last year by two friends and former co-workers of mine, Scott McMartin and Tim Kern, Fundamental Coffee Company is based out of Seattle. With over 50 years of coffee experience--sourcing, roasting, blending and spreading the power of great coffee, these guys taught me much of what I know about the bean with lots of laughter and good sarcasm along the way--because while they take their coffee seriously, it is about the only thing. It's cool to watch good friends do well--the coffee is amazing and they roast, package, and ship it very fresh and economically--even to Hawaii. Sadly, Tim passed away unexpectedly in late October and is sorely missed, but Scott is keeping the vision and the great coffee going. 

I am working my way through the line up. Right now my favorite is  the refined Guatemala Antigua Acate, followed closely by their complex but balanced Winter Solstice Blend, and the creamy and smooth Humbucker Blend. Although when I am in the mood for iced coffee, you can't beat the bright and juicy Single Coil Blend. Ah hell, it's all amazing!  Do yourself a favor and order some. If you live in Seattle or plan on visiting, you can pick it up on Fundamental Fridays at their roastery and get to drink great coffee, geek out, and have fun getting your pressing coffee questions answered. If you aren't lucky enough to be in Seattle, they will ship it quickly and maybe even throw in a cool Fundamental Coffee Company button or two. Find them here or on Facebook.

Besides Scott's coffee chops, he has a great palate so when deciding which of my Fundamental coffees to grace this black bean chili, I asked the master and we decided on their Papua New Guinea from Waghi Valley. Scott felt that with its great depth of flavor it would marry well with the bold spices in the chili and accompany it without pushing for "top billing." It was a great choice--I brewed up some to drink and some to cook with and started simmering.

Bittman says, "This deep, richly flavored chili has enough caffeine to keep you awake—literally. (Bear this in mind when you’re serving it; use decaffeinated espresso if you or your guests are caffeine sensitive or reserve it for lunch or early dinner.) Serve this with rice, a stack of warm tortillas, or tortilla chips, some crumbled queso fresco or sour cream, and parsley or cilantro. Other beans you can use: Earthy-flavored beans that can stand up to the other flavors—pinto, kidney, or dried soybeans—work best."

Espresso Black Bean Chili
Adapted from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman
(Serves 6)

2 Tbsp neutral oil, like grapeseed or corn
2 onions, chopped
2 Tbsp minced garlic
3 cups chopped ripe tomato (about 1.5 lbs whole; canned is fine; don’t bother to drain)
1/2 to 1 cup freshly brewed espresso, 1 to 2 cups brewed coffee, or 2 Tbsp espresso powder
2 Tbsp chili powder (I used ancho chili powder)

(I added 1 Tbsp cumin)
1/4 cup dark brown sugar or 3 Tbsp molasses
One 3-inch cinnamon stick
1 lb dried black beans, washed, picked over, and soaked if you like
Salt and freshly ground black pepper 

Put the oil in a large pot with a tight-fitting lid over medium-high heat. When hot, add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.

Stir in the tomato, espresso, chili powder, brown sugar, cinnamon, and beans and add water to cover. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat so the liquid bubbles steadily but not violently. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the beans are beginning to soften, 30 to 40 minutes. Add a good pinch of salt and pepper.

Continue cooking until the beans are tender, anywhere from another 45 minutes to 11/2 hours. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding more sugar, salt, or pepper. Serve or store, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Notes/Results: The coffee flavor comes through in this chili and it is as rich and as well balanced as the coffee. The slight herbal and fruit notes of Fundamental Coffee Company's PNG coffee play off well with the cinnamon and the subtle sweetness works well with the hint of smoky spice from the ancho chili powder (and added cumin). It also smells outrageously good while simmering on the stove. Do make enough coffee to enjoy a cup or two while it cooks--the intense aroma will have you craving it, so best be prepared. I topped my chili with crumbly feta-like Cotija cheese and cilantro. Avocado would have been lovely too but the one I had was bad. Served with warm corn tortillas and lime wedges, it was a satisfying bowl. Coffee enough for coffee lovers but not overpowering, I would make this again.  

It's Potluck week at I Heart Cooking Clubs--a chance to make any recipe from any of our previous IHCC chefs, so I am linking up this Mark Bittman chili there. You can see what everyone else made for Potluck by checking out the picture links on the post.

Let's look into the Souper Sundays kitchen and see who is here and what dishes they brought. 

Janet of The Taste Space offers up Bengali Squash with Black Chickpeas and says, "Around this time of year, it is probably a good idea for us to go through our pantries and cold rooms. Please tell me I am not the only one with winter squashes that always seem to linger throughout the winter. No better time to use the winter squash along with a new variety of bean. Especially in curry form. Susan gifted me these black chickpeas awhile back and I will admit, I prefer regular chickpeas. However, this curry was spectacular. There were a multitude of spices, added at different times to the curry, which created a rather optimally spiced dish. The fennel and panch phoran make this Bengali-inspired and a bit different from our typical curries. The black chickpeas made for a beautiful visual contrast but regular chickpeas could work, too."

Heather of girlichef shares Rhode Island Clam Chowder this week and says, "So, did you know that Rhode Island Clam Chowder was a thing? Until recently, I didn't. You see, lately I've been in the mood for seafood. Well, okay—I'm almost always in the mood for seafood. So how let's just say that I'm craving it even more than usual. This leads to me scouring my bookshelves and the internet for ideas and inspiration. It was on one of these missions that I happened across an article by Sam Sifton called The Clam Chowder Wars, and in turn, Rhode Island Clam Chowder. ... Upon looking at the simple ingredient list, one might assume it was boring or drab. It's actually just the opposite. It seems to be the version that tastes (dare I say) the purest. It's broth is clear, and tastes like ocean air...salty...clammy. It has some underlying heat from a healthy dose of black pepper, as well."

Judee of Gluten Free A-Z Blog is back this week with this Taco Salad Appetizer Dip and says, "If you enjoy Nachos or Tacos, you will love this layered Mexican Salad that is my sister in law Amy's party go to !. She made it this year for her neighbor's Super bowl Party , and as usual there was not a morsel left over! It's kind of her signature dish, and I always look for it when ever she has a party! It's easy to assemble, tastes fabulous, and is made from real food including fresh chopped tomatoes and scallions.! And I love that it simply requires assembling, not cooking. If you have unexpected company drop by, you can whip this chopped salad  up in 15 minutes."

Thanks to Janet, Heather, and Judee for joining in this week. If you have a soup, salad, or sandwich that you would like to share, just click on the Souper Sundays logo on the sidebar for all of the details.

Have a happy, healthy week! 


  1. How fantastic that they opened their own coffee company! And I love the idea of the espresso in this chili, I bet the flavor is intriguing...and delicious.

  2. Wow, that sounds delicious! I love the idea of adding coffee to savoury dishes.

  3. I bet the coffee adds such a nice depth of flavor to the chili!

  4. Flourishen Test KitchenMarch 3, 2015 at 4:33 AM

    I love coffee. A dish with bean, coffee, cheese and herb would make a very pleasant meal. And a good day in the making!

  5. A great way to use good coffee for sure! ;-)

  6. Yes Joanne, it added great flavor! ;-)

  7. Me too Zosia--I need to do it more often! ;-)

  8. I know Heather and even better that the coffee is so darned good. ;-) The coffee certainly adds a different dimension to the chili and takes it above the norm.

  9. I have made a Tomato and Kale Soup with Pistachios at - am just trying this in the comments rather than emails so hope this is enough info (am happy for you to take a photo from my blog if that is ok or can send one if you need)

  10. I want to run to the pantry and see if I have everything to make this. I need some of this now! Great recipe, Deb.

  11. Debra EliotseatsMarch 4, 2015 at 7:20 AM

    I want to run to the pantry and see if I have everything to make this. I need some of this now! Great recipe, Deb.

  12. Thanks Debra! Mark Bittman always has great recipes to build on. ;-)

  13. Thanks Johanna! Either email or comments works fine and I can easily grab a photo from your blog. ;-)

  14. Joyce, Kitchen FlavoursMarch 4, 2015 at 9:58 PM

    Such an interesting and aromatic flavour to a chili! I love coffee, and having it in a dish sounds yummy!

  15. This is such a fun chili recipe, Deb! The coffee in chili is a new concept for me, but I can see how it would marry well with the flavors. So nice to see friends do well and nice that Scott was able to carry on.


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