Nespresso’s guide to cooking with coffee beyond desserts

Cooking with coffee adds a whole new dimension to both sweet and savoury dishes.

Edouard Thomas – the Nespresso sensory expert. Courtesy Nespresso
Powered by automated translation

Coffee with your lunch or ­dinner is common enough, but how about coffee in your lunch or dinner?

Coffee is a natural fit in sweets and desserts (think tiramisu), but it’s increasingly showing up in savoury dishes as well. To capitalise on this, the ­coffee-producing giant Nespresso has developed a Nespresso Chef Academy Programme where, for the past five years, more than 400 chefs have learnt ways to enhance their cuisine using Nespresso’s grand crus.

Edouard Thomas, a Nespresso sensory expert, helps organise the programme.

“If you look at the history of coffee in cuisine, it has always been there,” says Thomas. “Using coffee in ­savoury dishes might sound surprising, but it works. We want to engage the culinary expert to first understand the diversity that coffee offers and rediscover it in cuisine.”

During the Chef Academy Programe, Nespresso experts give chefs a crash course on coffee. They cover everything from coffee quality and how to prepare it, to coffee tasting and how to use it as an ingredient in sophisticated main courses.

The German chef Harald ­Oberender, the director of kitchens at the Dubai World Trade Centre, attended the first Middle East instalment of ­Nespresso’s Chef’s Academy last year. “We learnt how to ­combine coffee with our culinary expertise,” he says. “You have to be open-minded about how you cook with coffee. You can blend Nespresso coffees with sweets like tiramisu, but you can also use it as a seasoning or sauce with savoury dishes.”

Oberender now uses coffee in some of his recipes at the private fine-dining World Trade Club on the 33rd floor of the Sheikh Rashid Tower.

“We use it in meats, roasts, ­Angus beef,” he says. “With the Angus beef fillet, we use a little coffee as seasoning instead of too much salt and pepper.” He also uses it on fish, in sauces, marinades and, of course, ­desserts.

“We use mellow, milder coffees for sweet dishes,” he says. “We don’t want it to overpower the dish.” But he uses robust coffee with meats and savoury dishes. “We prefer Nespresso coffee. It gives an extra punch. Their robusta blends are my favourite.” He prefers strong coffee from Ethiopia (Nespresso has a pure Origine Ethiopian Grand Cru called Bukeela).

Thomas says there are basic dos and don’ts when it comes to cooking with coffee.

“Coffee is very fragile,” he says. “As soon as the coffee’s constructed, you have to keep its freshness. It’s going to be very quickly modified by the environment, the air, the oxygen. It starts to lose some of its characteristics.”

He encourages chefs – both professional and home cooks – to experiment in the kitchen.

“It’s up to your creativity and your taste,” Thomas says. “You find what dishes work with what coffee. If we want coffee to continue in gastronomy, we need to leave an open door for creativity.”

Experiment with coffee

• Robust coffees should be matched with strong flavours. Use strong coffee with meats and milder coffee with desserts.

• Try coffee in marinades and rubs. Use it to season meat. Try it in soups, rice dishes, even marinara sauce. Experiment with it. Thomas says: “You could use a pot of coffee to ­aromatise water for ­pasta or rice. I’ve also seen chefs pour it on a slice of foie gras.”

• Use brewed coffee as well as coffee grounds. Brewed coffee can be used in soups and sauces or even when added at the end to desserts such as rice pudding. Coffee grounds can be used as a seasoning or in ­marinades.

• Try the coffee in its brewed form first to understand its flavours and notes. You don’t want to pair a fruity coffee with an earthy steak. Nor do you want a robust coffee with a delicate tiramisu.

• For Nespresso-infused recipes for both savoury and sweet dishes, visit

The coffee-tasting guide


• The cream on top should be uniform and smooth.

• The bubbles should be small and numerous for a fine dense cream.

• It should stick to the cup.


• Sniff the aromas released above the cup.

• Stir the coffee to spread the aromas and sniff again.

• Breathe in deeply for a few seconds so the aromatics reach your nasal cavity.

• Your first understanding of the smell sensations help you evaluate the pleasantness.

• Does it smell good? Do the smells remind you of anything? Take note, remember those impressions and “learn” the coffee.


• Slurp your coffee. Part of tasting is smelling. By slurping, you help pump aromatics back into your nasal passage in the back of your nose where it connects with your mouth.

• Keep slurping and try to distribute the coffee evenly throughout your mouth so you cover all the taste buds.

Hint: Slurp your coffee while pinching your nose and see how much you taste. Release your nose and slurp again. You should taste a lot more because much of taste actually is smell.

A Nespresso exclusive

Tonight, Nespresso will release the exclusive edition of their latest coffee: the Special Reserve Maragogype Grand Cru (Grand Cru is a range of high quality Nespresso coffee). The limited edition of this grand cru is made from the Maragogype bean, an oversized bean (it’s about 40 per cent larger than regular Arabica beans), which was discovered in the late 1800s in Brazil. Today, it is grown in limited quantities in distinct regions in Mexico, Nicaragua, Guatemala and Colombia. Nespresso has designed a unique blend of Maragogype beans from these regions to create a rare Arabica coffee that is both sweet and mild. It is available tonight to Nespresso club members who will attend an invitation-only event. If any of the coffee remains after tonight, it will be available at Nespresso’s e-boutique to select Nespresso club members.