Scharffen Berger Chocolate Maker & Peet's Coffee are Beyond Bean Counters

Meridith May
Opening Photo: Robert Steinberg, co-founder of Scharffen Berger chocolate with Shirin Moayyad, Peet’s coffee buyer
What do Scharffen Berger chocolate and Peet’s Coffee have in common?  Each began as the single vision of individuals– Alfred Peet and Robert Steinberg (Scharffen Berger). Both companies originated in the San Francisco Bay Area.

“We started the same way and we both grew organically,” Steinberg told Patterson’s at a recent visit to one of Peet’s retail stores in the Studio City, California. The two companies got together to create a new drink: The Scharffen Berger Chocolate Mocha Freddo™.

“Peet’s was our very first retail customer,” Steinberg pointed out, “a huge boost for our business.” Scharffen Berger is crafted in small batches using old-world chocolate-making methods and restored vintage European machinery. Up to nine different premium cacao beans are sourced to create its varied selections.

Photo A: The Scharffen Berger Chocolate Mocha Freddo™ is made with extra strength Peet’s Major Dickason’s Blend® Arabica coffee, milk (2% or soy if requested), Scharffen Berger natural cocoa and real whipped cream. It is topped with Scharffen Berger chocolate shavings.


Bean There, Done That?

A culmination of pure ingredients and artisan approaches to coffee and chocolate make the new specialty drink an admirable concoction. But to truly understand the nature of both, Robert Steinberg, co-founder of Scharffen Berger chocolate and Shirin Moayyad, Peet’s coffee buyer, led us on an educational and motivational pairing of some of the finer coffee roasts with sensational unions of chocolates.

First: coffee and chocolate do not originate from beans, they are both seeds! Coffee seeds are from berries off the coffee tree (often called “cherries”) and chocolate hails from the Cacao seed from the Theobroma (“fruit of the gods”) cacao tree.

Photo C: Side by side view of Coffee and Chocolate seeds



A Natural Team

“The true measure of a pairing is that one ingredient adds something to the experience of the other,” Steinberg pointed out. Indeed, coffee and chocolate nuances have an innate tendency to show up together – naturally – in such red wine varietals such as Merlot or Cabernet Franc.

Matching a Peet’s New Guinea roast with a 70% Cacao Bittersweet chocolate from Scharffen Berger demonstrated how the gentle and balanced flavor of the coffee, with its refined acidity and mellow earthy qualities can be “rounded out” by the bittersweet chocolate. It was the contrast of flavors, rather than the similarities, that are striking; the chocolate acting as a softening agent for the acidity of the coffee.

Peet’s most fanciful coffee is aptly named Ethiopian Fancy, offering prominent top notes, integrating such exotic flavors as jasmine and perfumed citrus blossoms. Heady and possibly even flighty, you can almost compare the aromatics to a late harvest Viognier, almost picking up apricot and marmalade rinds.

Match that beauty with 82% Cacao extra dark Scharffen Berger and you decrease the sugar content in the chocolate, with dense plum and pepper sensations that are reminiscent of a Port. The combination is superb – more complement than contrast.

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