Nothing is better than a good cup of coffee, with one exception: a good cup of coffee paired with a delicious dish of food.
The art of coffee pairing is similar to wine pairing. It’s about finding those flavors that come together to create a symphony in your mouth. The right coffee and food pairing can make a basic brunch brilliant or a dull dessert delectable.
Ready to get started? Here’s a simple how-to guide for pairing coffee with food.
Tips for Coffee Pairing
Before you can learn how to pair coffee and food, you must first be able to speak the language of these magic beans. It’s like becoming a sommelier— you need to learn to identify the aromatic notes and flavors that each cup has to offer.
Additionally, knowing how to brew a good cup of coffee is an invaluable skill. Learn how to master the different methods, from pour-over to the French press. Get yourself a discounted stovetop espresso maker from Coffee or Bust and channel your inner barista.
Roasts and Flavor Profiles
When it comes to understanding your coffee better, there are two main areas to focus your caffeinated energy: roast and body.
Your coffee might be light, medium, or dark roast. Light roast tends to be a bit more acidic with floral or fruity undertones and a touch of spice. Medium roast often offers a nutty or chocolatey flavor profile that captures the best of light and dark roasts with its own unique flair. A dark roast tends to be woody and earthy.
Body refers to the mouthfeel of the coffee rather than the actual flavor. A full-bodied coffee often has a sense of residue or texture. It’s more viscous and thick than a lighter-bodied coffee. At the other end of the spectrum, light-bodied coffees are more watery and clear. Medium is the midline between the two.
Now that you’ve had a crash course in flavor profiles, you can start looking at the right coffee for your food pairings.
Generally speaking, breakfast foods pair well with a light to medium roast coffee. Things like eggs, bacon, toast, pancakes, and fruit go exceptionally well with light to medium-bodied coffees.
If you’re having a more savory, heavy breakfast, such as quiche, omelets, or crepes, you can go darker and fuller-bodied.
Meat and Poultry
When eating poultry, the bright notes of a light roast and light-bodied coffee are very complimentary, though you can’t go wrong with a medium coffee. For red meat, go darker and bolder. Espresso can highlight savory flavors while a full-bodied blend works well with spices.
Chocolatey desserts go well with a full-bodied dark roast, while lighter cookies and pastries tend to pair well with light and medium roasts. Think of it this way: if your dessert would pair best with fruit, choose light. If your dessert would pair well with chocolate, choose dark. If both apply, aim for a medium.
How to Experiment
Don’t hesitate to play around with different pairings until you find one that sings. While having complementary flavors is foolproof, throwing in contrasting pairings can make for an incredible culinary experience.
It’s also worth experimenting with how you brew and serve your coffee. Learning about the different regions and what they have to offer can help you take your coffee and food pairing game to the next level. As with wine, different soil composition and ecosystems create a vast flavor spectrum within different blends.
What will you try first?