You’ve heard of wine pairings, where food and wine experts choose the best foods to pair with a certain wine or vice versa. And recently beer pairings and cocktail pairings have become quite popular. But how about coffee pairings? Well, if you didn’t think they were a thing, think again!.
Pairing coffee with specific foods can greatly enhance your dining experience. Whether amplifying similar flavors or complimenting with contrasting flavors, choosing specific coffees and foods can be a lot of fun.
Most people gravitate towards sweet food items when drinking coffee. This is likely due to the bitterness found in most coffees. Though you might think bitter is a bad thing, often in coffee, it is desirable. Just think about bittersweet chocolate!
Doughnuts, cakes, cookies, pies, and brownies are all delicious and great choices to go with any coffee you choose. But they are ideal with your darker roasted coffees and espressos. For example, our French Roast, our Mocca Java Blend, or our Decaf Mocca Java Blend, and our Cafe Blend all have a slight hint of bittersweet to them that would be perfectly balanced with a coffee cake or a fudge brownie. Serve these coffees for breakfast, after dinner, or for an early evening in.
Coffee can also work well with savory foods like beef, pork, chicken, and fish. With your heavier meats like beef, a strong yet clean coffee is best. Try our Brazil Cerrado or our Bolivia Colonial Caranavi with steak, prime rib, or beef roast. Pork dishes pair best with fruity notes found in coffees like our Maui Yellow Caturra or our Panama Boquete.
For chicken dishes, buttery flavors are a great addition to the meal. Choose coffees like our Haitian Blue Mountain or our Maui Red Catuai. And finally, for fish and seafood meals, because the flavors are delicate, something light would be preferred. Our Ethiopia Sidamo and our Colombia ‘Mesa de los Santos’ are ideal choices for not overpowering those airy flavors.
You can also pair coffee with cheese, just like a wine tasting. For creamy cheeses like mozzarella or brie, try our Ethiopia Yirgacheffe with its palate cleansing acidity. For medium flavored cheeses, like bleu cheese or goat cheese, our Tanzania Peaberry can stand up to the more distinctive flavors. Pair a full-bodied coffee like our Sumatra Mandheling with strong cheeses like smoked gruyere or aged sharp cheddar.
Hold the Milk and Sugar
When pairing coffees with foods, serve the coffee black. This allows the natural flavors in the coffee to shine through. Adding milk and sugar change the flavor, muting or even masking the individual qualities that make the pairing work. Even with your sweet pairings, black coffee can enhance those sweet, nutty, or even cinnamon spicy flavors.
Though we can pair coffee and food for any occasion, ultimately the choice of what tastes good is up to you. Sure, most wine aficionados will strongly suggest specific wines with specific foods (for example, always have a light white wine like a Pinot Grigio with fish or a strong Cabernet Sauvignon with steak) the final decision rests with you and what tastes good to you. Even adding milk and sugar is okay if that is how you typically take your coffee. Truly, there are no wrong or right answers when it comes to flavor and who enjoys what combinations.
So the next time you feel like having coffee with your meal, go right ahead! We hope these pairing combinations will help you decide which coffee will go well with which foods, but make sure you take into consideration your own palate. If you try one of our pairings above, please let us know what you think in the comments below!