Every once in a while you encounter one of those foods that sounds so bizarre that you just have to try it. When my cheesemonger friend, Felicia, told me about Barely Buzzed that was my reaction. A Cheddar-like cheese rubbed with coffee and lavender? How intriguing! How odd! I knew I had to get my hands on some.
Barely Buzzed is produced by the Beehive Cheese Company, a group of artisan cheesemakers in Utah who left the corporate world in order to make radical new cheeses. Barely Buzzed, one of their signature cheeses, owes its unique flavor profile to its one of a kind rub which is composed of South American, Central American, and Indonesian beans roasted to different styles and then ground up with French lavender buds creating a powerful and international spice blend. This blend is mixed with a bit of oil and then hard-rubbed into the cheese wheels, which are then aged on planks of Utah Blue Spruce. (In the end, you're eating a piece of cheese that's been seemingly influenced by various culinary traditions and ingredients worldwide.)
The resulting flavor delicately permeates the cheese making it nutty and floral. Closer to the rind notes of butterscotch and caramel become more intense. The overall flavor is somewhat like a Cheddar, but more reserved and not quite the umami bomb you expect from a well-aged Cheddar.
Personally, I find that the best cuts of this cheese are the ones that pick up small flecks of the rind's rub. Only then can you really appreciate the thought that goes into the development of this cheese. It becomes savory, deep, and mouthwatering like biting into a piece of beef that's been sitting in a slow cooker for the last ten hours.
In addition, this is one of those rare cheeses that actually pairs well with dark roasted coffee; simply eat it with a fork on maybe on some toasts of rye or dark wheat. The cream and caramel flavors of the cheese compliment the bold roasted taste of coffee resulting in a perfect breakfast cheese outside the general cream cheese rotation.
I encourage you to find a wedge of this for snacking or as a wild card curd for your next cheese plate. You'll find it quite addictive, though that might partially be the coffee-rind talking.