Hey there heat seekers. Today, we’re celebrating bonfire night, and the start of november in general, with a selection of roasted coffee bean products.
One from the ever-famous Queen Majesty, of former Hot Ones fame. One sent by my buddy Jason, of Burning Desire Foods – A company that I’ve featured plenty of times. And the last, a name that’s completely new to me: Chilli Scrumptious.
All three are heavily themed around their use of coffee and spice but Burning Desire’s is a little bit different. In part, because it’s a rub but also because it was free to me. A review sample, not a purchase.
I feel a little bad about including it in a comparison post, alongside sauces that I’ve paid for, but it was that or make my thursday reviews a regular feature. Which I’m quite simply not prepared to do.
Last week’s was a one-off holiday special.
Anyway, that’s enough of my rambling. Let’s start talking about our first item of the day:
Queen Majesty’s Red Habanero & Black Coffee – Number four in the line-up for Hot Ones‘s third season.
It’s a thing of beauty. A pearlised white label, wrapped around a darkish red sauce, itself containing black flecks that match the wolf in its art. A wolf surrounded by tall grass, rocks with red flowers and various leafy vines. Vines which, in turn, enclose the name and logo of the Queen Majesty company and their sauce.
I can’t say that it says a lot about the nature of its contents, visually, but it sure does get across their colours and their natural quality. Which I think is the point.
For those who want to know exactly what goes into it, though (and I don’t blame you if you do), here’s what the ingredients list says:
Organic coffee-infused white vingegar, sweet onions, bell peppers, red habanero peppers, apple cider vinegar w/ mother, balsamic vinegar, garlic, ginger root, olive oil, salt & Spices.
There’s also a little something that it doesn’t say but we’ll get to that when we taste it.
First, I want to look at the Java Hot, from Chilli Scrumptious. A bottle that looks almost immature, by comparison.
Yet those cartoony visuals are what make it stand out from the rest of the shelf and, I must say, I really like what its maker has done with it.
A takeaway coffee cup, anthropomorphised and flipping burgers to clue us in to the coffee barbecue within? Genius! Arguably mad but definitely genius.
And did you catch the coffee’s steam behind the name?
It’s a very different style to Queen Majesty’s art but I love it. I just wish that the name and the image were on a single side of the bottle.
Now that I’ve looked at two sides, though, I might as well read off the third:
Scotch Bonnet, Onion, Garlic, Chilliscrumptious Tomato Sauce (Three Variations of Tomatoes, Salt, Pepper) Brown Sugar, Fresh Black Coffee, White Whine Vinegar, Corn Oil and a Mix of Herbs and Spices.
A list that looks pretty different to Queen Majesty’s but not nearly as much so as today’s third product:
The Coffee and Chilli Rub from Burning Desire Foods.
This one contains a whopping sixty percent coffee! Here’s the full list:
Ground Arabica coffee 30%, Ground Costa Rican coffee 30%, muscavado sugar, ancho chilli powder, bell pepper flakes, chipotle chilli powder, garlic powder, smoked paprika, sea salt, dried onion flake, cumin, coriander, mesquite powder, thyme, wild Mexican oregano, black pepper, crushed bay leaf.
But it’s not only the list – The label’s rather different, too. Just not in a good way.
The red that Jason has chosen is, admittedly, enticingly deep and I do still love his winged and flaming pepper logo. It’s just that there’s nothing else to it. Only bold white text.
So, looks-wise, the sauces are definitely beating out the seasoning, so far.
Looks, however, will only sell your product. They won’t change the quality of what’s inside. So it’s time to start cracking them open:
Queen Majesty’s sauce is a thin one – Almost watery, even – yet it still carries a peppery pulp beneath its surface, along with the dark flecks that rise to the top.
Its aroma is acidic and savoury, yet also a little dark and it comes with some tomato-like notes, too. Yet there’s as little sign of that fruit’s brightness and sweetness in the sauce’s scent as there is of its name in the ingredients.
This is not a tomato-based product. Its chilli just provides some similar cooked, red, fruit that is considered a vegetable qualities. And provides a lot more pepperiness, when it comes to flavour.
Queen Majesty’s Red Habanero & Black Coffee hot sauce is ever so pepper forward, with a strong, sharp
Compared to that, its coffee is subtle. In fact, it’s almost unnoticeable. It serves only to add a little bit of rich and dark.
What I find rather more obvious are the hints of something more green and vegetable. The unmistakable undertones of celery seed that, in any english sauce, would be listed on the label as an allergen.
For this state-side set of ingredients, though, they appear to have snuck in as a spice. Something which I have had confirmed is a genuine regional difference.
So, if you do have a celery allergy, stay away from this product. But, if you don’t, those seeds are only going to improve its use in soups, stews and bloody marys.
Plus, I’d also recommend it as an addition to enchiladas, red salsa and even steak. Strange as it may sound, this sauce’s peppery notes are going to work just as well as the usual peppercorns in that setting.
Queen Majesty’s sauce is a little underwhelming, when it comes to coffee content, but its still a great tasting and highly sophisticated sauce, with a lot of subtlety and nuance to it. I like it.
I’ll be honest, though. I like Chilli Scrumptious’ even more.
Their Java Hot is still thin but it’s significantly less so and you can tell, from its texture, that it’s going to be sweeter. Its scent suggests richness but not smoke and its large shreds of what are supposedly scotch bonnet give me high hopes for its heat.
Hopes that, when I actually taste the sauce, amount to very little.
It’s sweet, rich and definitely heavier on the coffee – A light, golden, earthy sort that blends perfectly with cumin and caraway for a well spiced sauce. But it’s not very spicy at all.
Its a mere
creeping in as the brown sugar fades, which is unthinkably low for a first ingredient bonnet product. Yet the flavour is what it should be.
It’s not nearly as pepper-forward as what Queen Majesty made but it does taste subtly of scotch bonnet. They’ve certainly used the right pepper.
And they’ve not skimped on it, either. The seeds and shreds strewn throughout the sauce make that abundantly clear.
I have no idea how the Java Hot is as mild as it is but, much as I might enjoy it with more heat, I don’t think that its lack is necessarily a bad thing.
This is a flavourful, barbecue sauce. One to smother meats, chips and eggs in. It’s not a style of sauce that you want to go easy on and its mild burn means that almost no-one should have to.
But the classic barbecue options aren’t all that it’s good for, either. In fact, they’re not even my favourite uses.
No, my favourite ways to enjoy this sauce are on burritos and mixed into gravy to really amp up a roast dinner. Whether that dinner be meat-based, vegetarian or even utterly vegan. I love this sauce!
What about the rub, though? The coffee and Chilli one from Burning Desire?
That has a darker and far more roasted coffee aroma than the golden tones from Chilli Scrumptious but the richness is most definitely still there.
And its taste? Well, it’s a rub. It’s not meant to be eaten straight but, as rubs go, it’s surprisingly savoury.
I know that Jason – The man behind Burning Desire Foods – isn’t into sweetness purely for sweetness’ sake but, even so, the sugar content is remarkably low, to the taste. A stark contrast to Fat Man Chilli Co’s coffee rub.
Instead of molasses or brown sugar, today’s final product gets its richness from the coffee, itself, along with ancho chillies, garlic, onion and a subtle touch of smoke. And, instead of using cinnamon as a spice, this rub is far more focussed on its herby undertones – A touch of dark, dry green to balance out the umami of your meat.
Because yes, it’s meant for meats. That’s true of almost all rubs.
In particular, though, this one is meant for beef and pork – Meats with just a hint of their own natural sweetness. Or on something like ribs, where it will pair beautifully with a barbecue glaze.
For a vegan alternative, tofu will take up such a glaze, as well, but root vegetables are more my go to use because, once again, sweet potato and parsnips have their own natural sugars to offset the subtle bitterness of Jason’s toasted chilli flakes. They don’t need the extra sauce.
Not that I’m entirely sure ribs do, to be honest, as this stuff makes them delicious, either way.
Compared to the Java Hot, Burning Desire’s Coffee and Chilli Rub is just a tiny bit less easy to use on everything, at a medium
alone and a
baked onto my meals but I love it just as much. I only wish that I’d had chance to try Jason’s suggestion of it on seared tuna.
And that’s it for today. No winners, no losers, just three great products at three different heats and with three very different sets of uses. All tied together by a single ingredient that I don’t even much care for on its own.
It’s amazing what these three companies have managed to make out of their morning coffee.