In a recent analysis of beef and veal fonds, we discovered that roasted beef and veal share many of the same aroma molecules as are found in a cup of freshly brewed coffee. Naturally, this got us wondering if coffee could actually serve as a vegan replacement for beef or veal fonds. Turns out you can replicate a delicious base by following a few steps that will turn your coffee into an umami-rich brown sauce. Give this vegan demi-glace recipe a try!
Umami is key
Fonds and coffee may share similar aromas, such as cheesy-butter notes, caramel aromas and fruity scents. But what accounts for the difference in taste? Umami. By simply adding some soy sauce and Korean doenjang (fermented bean paste) to coffee, you can actually replicate the same umami taste as in a brown stock.
'By simply adding some soy sauce and Korean doenjang (fermented bean paste) to coffee, you can actually replicate the same umami taste as in a brown stock.'
Transforming coffee sauce into a vegan demi-glace
1. If you simply can't resist, you can always fry some bacon until golden brown to season your pan. But if what you're after is a veg-friendly sauce, skip the bacon and begin by sautéing the carrots, onions, garlic, a bay leaf and thyme until they've browned nicely. Then add the diced tomatoes.
2. Deglaze your pan using red wine and add the star anise, Korean doenjang, soy sauce and drip or filter coffee (35 grams of ground coffee to 0.6 liters of water). This mix will bring in the fond flavor and taste. It’s important to use freshly brewed coffee to minimize the loss of key aroma molecules—the same ones found in beef and veal — because they are volatile and will evaporate after the first 15 minutes. The fresher the better!
3. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until desired consistency, then sieve and if you would wish to, add some fresh butter.