It seems like everyone on Twitter and Instagram has been going mad for Pact Coffee, from yoga goddesses in printed lycra balancing steaming cups of the stuff on various twisted and contorted limbs to the mention that the brand is getting on an almost daily basis when it appears artfully arranged alongside Symmetry Breakfast’s latest creation.
So, when the inevitable email dropped into my inbox asking if I’d like to try some, I was intrigued.
Unless you’ve been brought up on babychinos by your yummy mummy, few people can say that they loved a cup of coffee when they were little. I first started appreciating it when I worked at an Italian restaurant and began knocking back creamy cappuccinos and jolts of espresso on the advice of my manager, who had a special sort of disregard for the average Englishman’s coffee making skills.
Nowadays, I’m ashamed to say that I’ve turned into a bit of a closet coffee snob and have been lucky enough to guzzle some delicious mouthfuls of the black gold, from fruity almost floral beans in Ethiopia to rugged, rip your tastebuds off tar in Turkey and heavenly burnt butter-rich brews in Laos and Vietnam.
That being said, i’ve never considered shelling out monthly for a regular supply of curated coffee, which is what the ethos of Pact is: an on-demand, to-your-door delivery coffee subscription service.
“At Pact we are on a mission to get the UK drinking better coffee by making incredible, freshly roasted coffee accessible to everyone. Our world-class beans are bought from dedicated farmers, roasted in small batches at Pact HQ in Bermondsey and shipped within 7 days.”
Ed, who contacted me, was thorough to say the least, taking particular care to find out exactly how I made my coffee and what utensils I used to make sure he sent me exactly the right sort of blend for my tastes and coffee making capabilities – somewhat of a rarity when it comes to free samples!
When it arrived, I could smell the blend before I’d even ripped open the envelope and, when I finally did, the whole kitchen was flooded with the luscious, almost acrid burnt sugar smell of freshly roasted coffee.
I’d been sent a fudge, figgy smokey blend called Farenda Lagoa from the Sul de Minas region in the heart of Minas Gerais, Brazil, where the beans are grown on the slopes of Serra do Pau D’Alho and the coffee is produced at altitudes of up to 1200 metres.
One of Pact’s head honchos had tasted this blend and decided that it reminded him of juicy raisins and buttery pastry, hence it’s moniker ‘Pain au Raison’, and, after trying, I can’t disagree. It’s a delicate flavour and takes a lot of coffee to produce a brew with enough punch to give a decent whack of flavour, but, when you do get enough into it, the result is delicious: nutty, sweet and incredibly mellow.
After making it for the first time all I could think was how well this coffee’s inherent dessert flavour would translate into a sweet recipe.
So, after a few more tastings, I came up with the following: crispy, chewy meringues that combine this fruity coffee with rich, dark chocolate, crunchy nuts and lashing of freshly whipped, coffee-swirled cream.
PACT coffee meringues with coffee cream, chocolate & crushed pistachios
This makes around six cream-filled bites. Double it if you’re having a bigger feast or more people over.
for the meringues
3 egg whites
100g caster sugar
2tbs strong black coffee
for the filling and topping
2-4tbs strong black coffee
300ml whipping cream
1tbs icing sugar
a handful of pistachios
100g dark chocolate
I was using my favourite new toy for this: The Kenwood Multione and my Lakeland piping bags
- Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper and pre-heat your oven to 100 degrees.
- Make a small cafetiere of strong coffee and pour it into a bowl once brewed to get cold.
- Make sure your bowl is utterly dry and grease free otherwise you’ll end up with soggy, split egg whites that won’t whip well. Separate your eggs (I always keep my egg yolks to make mayonnaise or lemon curd with them later on) and whisk the three egg whites with the whisk attachment on your mixer.
- When the eggs begin to puff up and become frothy, start to add the caster sugar a spoonful at a time and whip until the mixture has become glossy, smooth and forms stiff peaks.
- Gently drizzle through most of the 2tbs of coffee and turn with a spatula before scooping the mix up and pushing it into a piping bag.
- Pipe fat blobs into your baking sheet and drizzle over with drops of the remaining coffee – this mixes with the sugary meringues to make a sort of sticky coffee toffee that adds a wonderful chew to the cooked meringues. If you don’t have a piping bag you can just spoon the mixture onto the baking sheet.
- Bake in your preheated oven for between 2-3 hours. After two hours your meringues will be soft and chewy on the inside, after three they’ll be crisp and crunchy so it entirely depends on how you like them!
- Leave the meringues to cool while you whip your cream and icing sugar into stiff peaks. Swirl through the cold coffee you’ve set aside for the cream. You can always add more icing sugar or a drop more coffee if you’d like it a little sweeter or stronger.
- Set aside your whipped cream in the fridge until you’re ready to pipe it onto the meringues. Meanwhile, melt your dark chocolate in a bowl above a saucepan of simmering water before dipping the bottom of your cooled meringue halves into the rich chocolate goo.
- Leave these to set and let the chocolate harden before piping one half with cream and sandwiching your meringues together.
- Crush or chop your handful of pistachios and drizzle the meringues with the remaining chocolate before chucking over the nuts.
You can keep these in the fridge for 24 hours before the meringues start to go soggy…but to be honest I doubt that they’ll last that long!