My parents were big java drinkers and getting freshly ground coffee in the 70’s in our neighborhood meant going to Cheese World. The combined smell when we walked in the door of the ground beans and the sweet cheese always tantalized my taste buds. I couldn’t wait to be old enough to put the flavors together and see if my fantasy was as good as reality. It seems I was not alone in this fantasy world since not one, but TWO cheese makers created a coffee and cheese combination. So, who are these dream cheese-weavers and how do they stack up to the cozy fantasy? Part 1-Barely Buzzed!
Created in Utah by Beehive Cheese Co., owners and brothers-in-law Tim Welsh and Pat Ford (along with coffee from Tim’s brother Dan who owns Colorado Legacy Fine Coffee), Barely Buzzed is hand-rubbed with coffee and lavender to give this cheese a uniquely sweet and floral taste.
The look of this cheese is just stunning. The Turkish grind of the coffee is so fine it has a cake-like appearance in full-wheel form. Cut into it, and the scent of sweet, buttery, nutty cow’s milk and rich deep coffee waft up. Then comes the flowery notes from the lavender, and there lies the problem for some tasters. When I first brought Barely Buzzed home for Thanksgiving, my sister-in-law loved it, yet The Hubby felt it had a bit of a “soapy” aftertaste, as did my brother-in-law. Strangely, those of us who are heavier coffee drinkers did not notice the lavender as much as those who are more apt to drink tea. Under the rind of coffee is a golden butterscotch and caramel paste that is creamy and delicious.
Barely Buzzed is a bit hard to find in stores, at least where I live, so I have to order it online. That means it can be expensive. A wedge that costs $8.00 in the store is then double due to shipping – or even more. On the rare occasions I do find it at my local specialty foods store, I have to be sure to eat it rather quickly, because no matter how well I store it, the grounds on the rind tend to generate mold rather quickly. Fortunately, it can be brushed off and still good to eat.
Overall, Barely Buzzed is one of my top recommended cheeses for any special occasion cheese plate.
After writing this, I managed to score a small wedge at a local Holiday Market in Royal Oak, Michigan. Not terribly close to where I live, but I’m still super happy to have it!
Tune in tomorrow for Part 2-Sartori Reserve Espresso BellaVitano