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Guest Post Thursday – An Ethiopian Coffee Tasting With Lemon-Glazed Teff Biscotti With Dionne From Try Anything Once

Posted Feb 02 2012 8:00am

Today I am extremely excited to have Dionne from Try Anything Once as a guest poster. Dionne is not only beyond sweet, she also works hard to help those in need with her charity, and let me tell you – this lady knows her coffee! Let her take you on an amazing, flavorful journey of the senses with an Ethiopian coffee tasting and healthy biscotti using the Ethiopian teff grain. Be prepared to have your coffee experience changed forever!

My name is Dionne from Try Anything Once …for the sake of your piehole.  First,  I want to say a big thank you Kiri for having me as a guest blogger today!  I am a [nearly] fearless chef and I have tried many new culinary techniques and experiments.  No matter what I learn, I like to go back to when I first developed an interest in different countries and their local culinary traditions.

Although I haven’t traveled all over the world, my thirteen years in the coffee industry have given me a great opportunity to learn about different cultures.  I have been in the fortunate position to teach and share information about coffees, their origins and their characteristics.  Pairing coffee with food brings out each unique flavor profile, which is what we will be doing today.  Today, my friend, we are celebrating Ethiopia!

On my very first day working for a very large coffee chain I remember hearing a story I’ll never forget:

A young Ethiopian goat herder named Kaldi was tending to his goats one day when he noticed they were eating from a plant on the outskirts of his field.  They were eating away at the leaves and what appeared to be berries on this plant and shortly after the goats were frolicking, kicking and running in the fields with more enthusiasm than they had ever shown before!  He had never seen anything like it.

Curious about this plant, Kaldi ate some of the berries himself and was fascinated at the result!  He too had such a newfound energy that he just had to share his discovery with the rest of his village! 

I am not sure how much truth there is to this story about coffee but whoever thought to roast it, grind it and brew it was a genius.  And I’m not just talking about the caffeine!

The growing conditions and the type of soil in each region determine the flavor and body of each type of coffee that we enjoy.  Coffee crops require much care in growing and harvesting, but let’s not forget that the trees that shade the crop require much maintenance as well.

Ethiopia produces more coffee than any other country in Africa.  Their economy is supported by agriculture and it is said that they are one of the most fertile countries in Africa.  Their climate varies from deserts reaching a high of 140 degrees F to moderate areas not exceeding 80 degrees F.  There are rainforests in Ethiopia that receive heavy rains from June- August as well.  These are three examples of climates found in Ethiopia.

In most countries coffee is an exported cash crop but in Ethiopia they actually drink and enjoy their coffee.  There is even a traditional ceremony where the coffee is washed, roasted, ground, brewed and served right in front of you.  (See the end of this post for a short sample video.)  They are proud of their crop and I believe it shows in the quality and flavor of beans produced in Ethiopia.

The beans are dry processed leaving the outside fruit intact while drying in the sun.  Then they are raked to remove the outer dried layer of the fruit.  This results in the rich full flavor that these coffees are known for. Ethiopian coffees are often used to create espresso blends because of their aromatics and smooth flavor.

If you have never really tasted coffee before you are in for a treat!  Set aside the idea of Folgers, or that instant coffee in a packet.  True coffee tasting involves an authentic varietal roasted by a passionate roastmaster, proper equipment and the correct brewing process.

Freshly ground coffee, hot filtered water and a French press are the necessary equipment for a proper coffee tasting.  You can also go into any coffee shop that is serious about their coffee and ask them to prepare you a French press of Ethiopian Harrar, which is what I am featuring today.

Pour yourself a cup and first observe the fragrance.  What does it smell like?  Inhale again. (Be careful…)  Beyond the smell of “just coffee”, what do you smell?  This is just like smelling out the ingredients in your favorite restaurant dish, only coffee is a bit more difficult.  I pick up on the fruity aromas and the crisp, winy flavor with hints of tartness and berry tones similar to a blueberry.

African coffees tend to have a fruity aroma.  The flavor is crisp, winy and perhaps a bit floral yet mellow and medium in body.  You may be able to pick up on the tartness that resembles the tartness of a berry.

Take a sip and let it wash over your tongue.  What do you taste?

When I would host coffee tasting’s, I used food to enhance the flavor characteristics of the specific varietal.  One flavor that always paired well with Ethiopian coffee was citrus.  I never was a lemon fan until I sipped the coffee, then took a bite of lemon bread.  Then I sipped the coffee again and my eyes got real big.  I was able to taste the flavor profile more than ever before!

I also developed an appreciation for not just the country of Ethiopia but to many countries that export coffee.  Much time and effort goes into producing a beverage I take for granted every morning.  Many farmers sell their coffee short because little money is better than no money and they have families that get hungry too.

I support buyers that pay a fair price for their coffee because the more I buy the more coffee they buy and the more farmers they seek out to purchase from.

Imagine the life of a coffee farmer where one tree produces one pound of roasted, packaged coffee.  Just one.  The majority of coffee farmers receive .99 cents or less per pound of green beans and companies that agree to pay a fair price have been known to pay up to $3.00 per pound for good quality coffee.

To my knowledge there are not any traditional Ethiopian foods that feature lemon to compliment their coffee, but I have made a lemon biscotti inspired by a local grain used in Ethiopia called “teff”.

Teff is usually used to make injera, which is an Ethiopian flatbread.  Injera is used in place of forks or spoons to pick up food and to eat it.    If teff is not available in your area, you can substitute it for 50% whole wheat flour and 50% rye flour.  When making the biscotti, you can substitute the white four for any amount of teff that you like.  In the recipe I have recommended amounts for someone that wants to ease into it, but if you want to use more teff then feel free!

This lemon biscotti is a celebration of Ethiopia and a light food to pair with this deliciously indulgent coffee.  The flax meal and whole wheat flour give the biscotti a pleasant texture that contrasts the smooth and balanced flavor of this particular coffee.  This will be unlike any other biscotti you will ever have.  It is not sweet like a dessert if you eat it without the glaze, but the glaze really gives an over-the-top lemon flavor that is quite enjoyable with our featured coffee today!

Lemon Teff Biscotti

Adapted from 


1/8 cup grapeseed oil

½ cup white sugar

zest of two lemons

juice of two lemons

1 tbsp. flax seed meal

2 tbsp. warm water

1 tbsp. agave nectar

¼ cup applesauce

1 pinch salt

1 tsp. baking powder

1 cup flour

¼ cup whole wheat flour

½ cup teff (substitute with 50% whole wheat flour and 50% rye flour)

Preheat your oven to 350.  Mix flax seed meal and warm water in a bowl and let it sit off to the side.  Combine grapeseed oil, white sugar and lemon zest in a mixing bowl until sugar appears yellow from the zest for 2-3 minutes.  Add lemon juice until sugar begins to dissolve, mixing for another minute.  Add agave nectar, flax meal mixture, salt and applesauce mixing until combined.  Add your desired combination of flours totaling 1 ¾ cup and add your baking powder as well.  Fold together with a spatula and if you want finish mixing with your hands.

Line baking sheet with parchment paper and form one large flat slab with your dough about 4” wide or so.  Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.  Allow to cool for about 15 minutes and cut into ¾” wide pieces.  Lay on their sides and bake again for 15 minutes until sides resemble a golden brown.  Let cool.

Lemon Glaze

juice of 1 lemon

zest of 1 lemon

1 cup powdered sugar, minimum

Combine ingredients and mix until smooth and lumps are gone.  Depending on the size and juicyness of your lemon, you may need to add powdered sugar 1 tbsp. at a time until glaze is still pourable but appears thick.  Test on a small piece of biscotti.  If the glaze completely drips off, add more sugar until most of the glaze can stay on the biscotti with plenty still drizzling off.

I hope you enjoyed our coffee tasting.  There are so many more things I could tell you about coffee and how amazing it is, but we’ll have to save that for another time.  Thank you again Kiri for having me as a guest today!

I want to try and have guest posts here on a fairly regular basis, since I have enjoyed guest posting for other blogs and think it’s a great way to find new blogs and/or readers. If you would like to guest post here, please email me at!

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