by Vanessa Chiasson for USA TODAY 10Best

This Swedish cheese is best served in a cup of coffee

"Just think of it as mocha-flavored cream cheese," my friend urged as I stared doubtfully at the saturated, oily, brown blobs floating in my coffee. I’m no stranger to mocha cheesecake, so I took my first taste of kaffeost.

Kaffeost, or "coffee cheese," is a firm, flexible cheese that hails from Swedish Lapland – the arctic north of the country – and is most at home marinating in a steaming cup of java.

It's a traditional food of the Sami. The Sami are the Indigenous people of Sápmi, a region that extends across northern Scandinavia and Russia, and overlaps much of Swedish Lapland.

Customarily made with reindeer milk (though cow’s milk is often substituted), kaffeost has a neutral taste and a smooth, slightly dry texture. It also has a high melting point and is baked to achieve a glossy, golden exterior.

In Swedish Lapland, more often than not, that cup is a beautiful guksi, a hand-carved wooden mug made from a birch burl. Tradition dictates that the coffee is always boiled, never brewed. Ideally, it is prepared over an open air fire.

And a few cubes of kaffeost are always a welcomed addition. Combining cheese and coffee sounds odd, but the two ingredients are a natural fit.

When served alongside smoked reindeer and kaffebrod, a sweetened bread, it’s an ideal blend of sharp, smooth, salty, sweet, and savory – and perfect for sharing.

Image courtesy of Vanessa Chiasson

Kaffeost is not a commonplace flavor or texture. In the cheese world, it’s often compared to halloumi, but I was reminded of Canadian cheese curds.

Kaffeost squeaks when you bite it, just like cheese curds, and their mild flavors are similar. I didn’t taste any flavors of mocha cream cheese in my cup, like my friend insisted, but it was delicious, rich and peculiar all at once.

Read more at USA TODAY 10Best

Read the article
Read the article