Happy tuesday oncemore, this week we have a bit of a bargain bin find.
Unfortunately, this salsa was a one-off item in a discount store, not a product that is readily available in the UK, but I didn’t buy it to review it. I bought it to review the underlying concept.
Chipotle and Coffee Salsa.
The idea intrigued me and, while I’m inherently sceptical of anything sold by an end of line retailer, the posh-looking, rather minimalist label design that focused on the company’s mexican sensibilities gave me faith that at least the premise would be well thought through.
And indeed, deep and smokey chilli should, theoretically, work well with dark and earthy coffee but does it really? Let’s find out.
It’s not exactly chunky like some salsas but nor is it a thick, smooth sauce. This particular little beastie is more your home made style of salsa, the kind that looks and feels like a pulp but oozes so much juice that half your tacos end up on your face or in your lap.
The aroma is what finally convinced me that it would be an excellent dip (or marinade, as they suggest). Rich chipotle overtones combined with fruity tomato and an almost bonfire-like smell arising from the way they flame roast the vast majority of ingredients. The coffee doesn’t feature heavily at all.
In the taste, however, you get a familiar bitter tinge to the end of your first mouthful, coming in just as the main flavour dies down, leaving you with just that and a mild cider vinegar aftertaste.
It’s not a strong bitterness though and nor is it the sharp sort you get from some chilli products. It is clearly the coffee and it somehow dies away as you eat more, making each mouthful a little better than the last.
The exact opposite of how I felt about CaJohn’s Hydra.
But if that was all the coffee brought to this salsa, it would be a write off. Poor idea, poor execution, not worth the money I spent on it.
That is not the case.
The body of this salsa and the main contributor to its flavour is definitely the flame roasted tomatilloes, mexican fruit that are closely related to tomatoes but never ripen past green.
They’re somewhat similar to tomatoes in taste as well but not so much so that the difference isn’t clear. It’s distinctive and makes for a very authentic mexican flavour.
Their flavour is changed still further by the fact that they have been cooked in the fires of a grill until their skin blackened, then pealed and turned to pulp. It doesn’t say this anywhere but you can certainly tell. The unique flavour of the fruit’s singed but not burnt flesh is obvious all throughout this product. And it’s gorgeous.
Far from dominating but still ever-present is the chilli. Chipotle in adobo sauce.
The chilli itself, however, is a lot more obvious than what it was preserved in prior to becoming a part of the salsa. Its deep, smokiness is not overpowering or even, in my opinion, all that strong in here but it is certainly there throughout, complimenting that flame roasted taste perfectly and giving a slow growing mildish burn. A
that seems to be enjoyable by all.
The actual coffee flavour then performs something of a supporting role. Always in the background and never very noticeable but always there. Adding depth and richness and complimenting the more prominent ingredients.
For me, that initial bitter taste, albeit slight, was nearly enough to put me off. People who are more used to coffee, however, didn’t seem to notice the bitterness at all and, in the end, both me and everyone I shared it with absolutely loved the chipotle coffee salsa.
In my opinion, a tiny bit of tweaking to remove the slight bitterness is in order but the concept works and, to my amazement, so too does this particular product.
I didn’t buy this with the expectation of a good sauce or dip so, to have ended up with both in one, I was very pleasantly surprised. For my UK readers, I’m really sorry this doesn’t seem to be available anywhere but, for my american ones, consider looking up Zukali, I’m sure their other products will be just as well made.