How to Eat Cake and Drink Coffee (properly!)

northernmunkeebites.coffeepairingboxesAlthough I now reside on the dark side of the Pennines but I am a very proud Yorkshireman and I’m very proud of the fantastic food and drink that comes from God’s County. This post is a celebration of the coming together of two fine Yorkshire based brands: Grumpy Muleand The Yummy Yank.

The Afternoon Tea trend is now through adolescence and well onnorthernmunkeebites.grumpymulerange2 its way to being considered mature with post-modern, deconstructions and proliferations being the norm. Do you ever stop and wonder if we’re doing it right? Are we just gorging ourselves on towers of cakes and flagons of hot brown liquids without a thought or care to the taste? Are we just racing to finish the pile laid out in front of us? Surely there’s more to it right? Well that’s what I intend to prove with these two awesome Yorkshire businesses.

northernmunkeebites.theyummyyankrange2Now, I don’t profess to be an expert in flavour pairing but anything I have learned in the art I have gleaned from DGH Chocolatier.  Flavour pairing is clearly subjective so thankfully there isn’t a right or wrong answer; if you’re like me and you love Wensleydale cheese with Christmas cake then don’t let anyone tell you that’s wrong! Coffee is a fantastic medium for pairing as it is made up of more than 1000 chemical compounds; these compounds contribute to everything from flavour to aroma. The key to good coffee pairing is just a bit of forethought and experimentation.

So, one blustery afternoon in St Helens Mrs Munkee and I decided to sit down and harmonise two fantastic food and drink brands we’d been sent (it’s a hard life eh?); the results were incredible! I’m going to blow your coffee and cake consuming minds!

Now this is where the magic happens…

First thing’s first, and apologies if this is a little obvious, for the full flavour experience the order is CAKE then COFFEE not COFFEE then CAKE. All the flavours I’m about to walk you through work delightfully together but the power and potency of the coffee has the inclination to overpower some of the subtleties of the sweet treats ; therefore if you want to fully appreciate the journey then this order is a rule not a choice!

Just to be clear, this is not an appraisal of the coffee and cake brands – they’re phenomenal and don’t require further exploration. This post is about pairing two outstanding products to deliver a full flavour adventure so let’s take our lead from the Spice Girls and focus on when two become one…

Carrot Cake with Rwandan Musasa Co-Operative Coffee

Who doesn’t love a good carrot cake, right? This one is exceptional! Initially you getnorthernmunkeebites.coffeepairrwanda drawn into the ride by a light, fluffy and moist sponge and then the sweetly creamy topping and finally the texture is turned with the crunch of the walnuts. This coffee boosts the trip with a bright, citrus-fuelled brew that is deep and powerful. The cream from the cake lingers and is eventually swept away by the bold red fruits in the coffee.

 Butterscotch Caramel Bar with Organic Colombian Equidad Coffee

northernmunkeebites.coffeepaircolombia2Here is masterclass in texture variation to induce excitement and intrigue in each bite. The butterscotch bar is smooth, sweet and almost naughty! So it needs a stiff shot in the arm from a powerful, nutty coffee with just a nod to the smooth caramel.

Raspberry Brownie with Organic Ethiopian Shakisso Coffee

Dark fruits and chocolate play together so nicely and this gooey brownie is the perfectnorthernmunkeebites.ethiopia2 platform for the combination. Pair this with a light, zesty coffee and you’ve got the recipe for a brilliant afternoon!

Cherry and White Chocolate Brownie with Organic Colombian Equidad Coffee

northernmunkeebites.coffeepaircolombiaThe flavour depth here is complimented by the texture variances. This brownie delivers a beautiful blend of creamy, sweet and tart whilst delicately balancing soft, smooth and hard textures. The Colombian coffee extracts the cherry flavours and attaches it to the deep hazelnut notes for a smooth finish.

 Pecan Pie Bar with Organic Seasonal Decaf Coffee

Now for me you can keep your apple pie because there’s nothing more American thannorthernmunkeebites.coffeepairdecaf Pecan Pie – I love it! Here you begin with cheeky apple notes that are juxtaposed by full nutty flavours and held together by a sticky sweetness. The coffee rushes through with a smooth chocolate burst and a curiously acidic finish to bring us back to the fructose acidity of the apple notes.

Peanut Butter Brownie with Brasilian Deterra Sunrise Coffee

northernmunkeebites.coffeepairbrasilThis flavour journey starts with the soft gooey brownie with decadent sweet notes that eventually make way for crunchy, earthy peanut flavours that linger on the palate. The coffee follows on with a smooth caramel entry that is quickly pursued by an echo of hazelnut flavours. A fantastical cyclical flavour flow.

Drunken Pig in the Mud Brownie with Organic Ethiopian Shakisso Coffee

Now, let me warn you – this one isn’t for the purists. This brownie contains vegetariannorthernmunkeebites.coffeepairethiopia bacon, salted caramel and a little whisky for good measure so prepare to be taken on a flavour rollercoaster with a sweet meat treat! The flavours are complex here so I needed to find something that would match these flavours rather than get lost amongst them. This Ethiopian blend delivers just that with a light citrus which picks out the whisky and the caramel to complete the adventure.

So that’s that! Mrs Munkee and I had a belting afternoon and were fully immersed in a self-inflicted, delirious food and drink coma!

Ultimately, there’s no snobbery in me and I’m in the camp that states that you should be able to enjoy your food and drink any way you see fit however I would urge you to give this a go. Just dare to try something a bit different and start your own food adventure!

Northern Munkee.

If you enjoyed my post (or even if you didn’t) please drop me a comment below because sharing is caring!


Toppa the Salads!

OK, stop what you’re doing. Grab a pen and paper and prepare to write this down, What I’m about to say is ground breaking…

Health is a key trend in food and drink.

Now I’ll just pause so you can allow that to sink in as you recover and make yourself a brew to calm down.

I jest. This isn’t new news. In fact it could almost be classed as postmodern. This agenda has long been on the ‘To Do’ lists of food manufacturers and consumers. So what is new news in this world?

I’m currently sat writing this post at lunch time in the busy canteen of one of the biggest food retailers in the UK. In my proximity I can see one person has soup, another has a dry crisp bread and another has a jacket potato. No one has gone for the burger and chips that’s also on the menu today. So everyone is consciously watching what they’re consuming and opting for the healthier choice. But what’s missing? Well for one a smile on their faces! Now you can accuse me of jumping to conclusions but I think the joy has left their faces because the flavour has left their plates.

Now we have established that we, as a food eating nation, want a healthy option and we want the choice we are now demanding more from our healthy options. A healthy lifestyle should not be a compromise and a chore and…FLAVOUR IS KING.

A Food Adventurer should constantly be seeking out new and exciting flavours and we shouldn’t exclude the health conscious from this search.

Enter Toppa from Plain Tasty…

Plain Tasty


Rating: 7/10

Appeals to: vegitarians, flexitarians, free-from followers, food lovers, healthy-food-hunters and just about any body


The packaging is very simple and a lot of the key cues emanate from the fresh, bright and simplistic branding. The packaging hints at the products’ flavour-enhancing qualities and would break-up an otherwise repetitive fixture. Another important element of any healthy product packaging is that you can clearly see the product., which you can here. This is vital in terms of giving potential shoppers confidence over quality and sets expectations.northernmunkeebites.toppa1

My only criticism of the packaging is that it doesn’t successfully communicate what the products’ functions are. Although toppers aren’t a completely new concept it would be difficult to attract new shoppers to buy if this isn’t clearly communicated.


£3.75 (based on company website) – on first glance you may think this is a little steep but I actually think it’s market appropriate. Consider the items that it’s likely to be purchased with (oils, crutons and spices) and this price point works really well within that.


Chilli and Lime, Lime & Seaweed

Now, this is a very versatile product but the beauty in it is its texture and flavour enhancing qualities. The magical mix is a blend of textures and ingredients in itself which marry together to produce a symphony of flavours. However, when you add the mix to a soft salad or soup it really comes to life and offers a stark juxtaposition in mouth feel.

I tried the product all three ways that are recommended on the packaging: as a snack, with soup and on a salad. I must admit the product performs exceptionally well as a meal topper but it’s not something I’d choose to snack on in isolation. This product comes alive and is really at home when it’s enhancing and adding another dimension to food. Banish the bland!

Verdict – in a word, tops! There are a few branding tweaks that I’d suggest but on the whole this really delivers against expectations. It’s a fantastic food flavour enhancer and it certainly would have brightened up some of the faces of the people around me right now!


Any comments, thoughts or questions? Or are you a healthy-food-hunter yourself and you want to offer me some tips? Leave a little comment below because sharing is caring!

Northern Munkee.