The Good: Melts well, Flavorful, Nothing truly bad in it
The Bad: Fairly expensive, Coffee flavor is not strong at all.
The Basics: Sartori Espresso BellaVitano is an unfortunately unimpressive blend of cheese flavor and coffee texture.
One of the nice things about being a reviewer is that it inspires me to try new things . . . a lot. When I discovered a cheese with coffee grounds in it at a local grocery store, I realized that I had never tried a BellaVitano cheese! So, my wife (who had been looking for gift ideas for me) was very generous in hooking me up with a block of Sartori Espresso BellaVitano cheese. The Espresso BellaVitano was disappointing for all the hopes I had for a cheese that would blend coffee and cheese flavors, but was a pretty delightful cheese on its own.
I love coffee and cheese, so this seemed like it would be a slam-dunk cheese for me. My wife and I found Sartori Espresso BellaVitano cheese at the grocery store on sale in a 5.3 oz. pack for $4.99. Despite the price, I was glad we tried it, but it was not the most exceptional cheese I’ve yet tried.
Sartori is a manufacturer of premium cheeses in Wisconsin. The intent of most Sartori cheeses is that they will be cheeses that hold their own as snacks that may be served to consumers in fancier settings. They specialize in intriguing cheeses that have different flavors infused into them, like merlot and espresso. Sartori cheeses come in blocks that are premeasured, at least for the Sartori Espresso BellaVitano cheese.
The Espresso BellaVitano cheese is as its name implies. This is a solid white cheese with actual coffee grounds in it. Mixed throughout the cheese block are the fine ground up coffee beans. Sartori Espresso BellaVitano cheese in plastic and is hard enough to maintain its shape when cut open.
Ease Of Preparation
Sartori Espresso BellaVitano cheese is a cheese, so more often than not, it is used on its own or as an ingredient in a recipe. Preparation of the cheese is pretty simple; cut the plastic away and slice the cheese! More than most cheeses with other things embedded in them, Sartori Espresso BellaVitano cheese is very easy to work with. My cheese plane easily sliced through the block repeatedly, so the coffee grounds in no way impede the cheese plane. This cheese is not so hard to fracture or otherwise fall apart. It is exceptionally easy to work with on its own or as an ingredient.
When the cheese is sliced, it melts beautifully with wonderful evenness and liquidity, making it an ideal ingredient to make flavorful omelets or to replace cheddar cheese in dishes like macaroni and cheese. It is delicious when melted into sandwiches, eggs or even a cream sauce (to make a cheese sauce). The first time I tried this cheese was in an omelet and it melted beautifully there.
The Espresso BellaVitano smells very much like a hard cheese, like a Parmesan. The smell is an odd combination of subtle and pungent and is almost entirely lacking in a coffee smell. The cheese is not aromatic, so its scent does not disperse into a room when it is opened. However, as it warms or one gets close to it, the Espresso BellaVitano smells powerfully like a hard, sharp, delightfully smelly cheese. From its aroma, one might expect something like Parmesan. The smell of espresso beans is present really only as the cheese nears room temperature.
On its own, the Espresso BellaVitano is a very sharp cheese, very analogous to a Parmesan. The cheese is flavorful and includes the espresso flavor not quite as an aftertaste, but translates more as a grainy texture and compliment to the cheese than a distinctly coffee flavor. The beautifully bitter Espresso BellaVitano has a dry aftertaste, probably from the coffee ground into it.
Melted into something like an omelet, the Espresso BellaVitano cheese, the cheese melts surprisingly well. Interestingly, when it is melted and hot it seems to lose almost all of its aroma. It also seems to lose most of its flavor. In a plain egg omelet, I was shocked to have many bites where the egg entirely overwhelmed the cheese flavor. Indeed, it was only in the parts of the omelet where the Espresso BellaVitano cheese was most prevalent, as the egg cooled, that the sharp, cheddar-like flavor of cheese asserted itself.
Sartori Cheeses are not intended to be all that one lives on. But for those who try, the Espresso BellaVitano cheese is not a terribly healthy choice. The coffee does not seem to add anything of note to the cheese of nutritional value. A serving size is considered a one inch block (1 oz.). In that, there are 120 calories, 90 of which are from fat. This cheese has 25% of one's daily recommended saturated fat intake and 7% of the RDA of sodium. On the plus side, it does have 18% of the RDA of calcium and has seven grams of protein.
Obviously, Espresso BellaVitano cheese is a dairy product, so those who are lactose intolerant will have problems with it. This cheese is made primarily of BellaVitano cheese and roasted ground coffee. That makes it mostly natural.
As a cheese, Sartori Espresso BellaVitano cheese should be kept refrigerated. So long as that happens, it ought to stay fresh for several weeks. I am utterly unable to write about shelf-life as our 5.3 oz block was gone within two days of being opened! So long as it is kept in an airtight, cold environment, it ought to remain fresh and supple. Our package bought two weeks ago had an expiration date of October 3, 2014.
Espresso BellaVitano is a cheese, so it is not going to stain or ruin anything unless it is ground into a fabric. Baring that, cleanup of nonporous surfaces is as easy as wiping them with a damp cloth. Even the crumbs, however, are aromatic, so this is one that is especially important to clean up after!
Sartori Espresso BellaVitano cheese is more average than at all impressive; the coffee flavor is not bold enough to truly sell the flavored cheese the way one would hope it would.
For other cheese reviews, please check out my takes on:
Yancy’s Fancy Roasted Garlic Cheddar Cheese Curds
New Bridge Mediterranean Cheddar Cheese
Cabot Extra Sharp Cheddar
For other food and drink reviews, please visit my Food And Drink Review Index Page for an organized listing!
© 2014 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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