Coffee & Food Pairings: How to Get Started

A Match Made in Heaven: Treat your taste buds with coffee and food pairings

Think about it: We pair foods and drinks all the time. Wines with cheeses. Milk with cookies. And now beers are on the scene. There really is a science behind pairing food with your beverage of choice.

Coffee is known to have 1500+ aromatic and flavor compounds. While wine only has about 200. There's a whole other world of tastes to explore! So it only makes sense to pair your daily cup of joe with the right foods in order to experience the best flavors from both. There's more to just pairing flavors in the foods you eat and drink, but more on that later...All you need to know is that when different foods share certain key aromas, they are more likely to make the perfect pair!

We have started this topic off with a few pointers below. We hope that once you start noticing what you eat and what you drink, that you can start building your own personalized coffee and food pairings! This not only makes your dining experience more enjoyable, but you will open your senses to finding more foods and coffees you like.

For starters, try out many different coffees. If you don't have a specific type you like already, it's important to find out what tastes you prefer most. By this, we mean picking the region of coffee. Once you have decided the types of coffee you like most, then it will be easy to pair them with certain foods, desserts and cheeses. Below is a list of our current coffee offerings from each region of the world and what they pair best with:

Latin American Coffees: Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua

Coffees with a light to medium body and medium to high acidity should be paired with light fare including fruits and breads. These well-balanced, bright and sometimes tangy coffees pair well with:

  • Foods: Breakfast breads, muffins, citrus fruits, blueberries, apples and nuts
  • Cheeses: Young, creamy cheeses like ricotta or mozarella.

African and Arabian Coffees: Ethiopia, Tanzania

Coffees with a medium to full body and medium acidity should be paired with heavier, spicy and savory fare including chocolate and spicy foods. These wine-like coffees pair well with:

  • Foods: Breakfast breads, muffins, citrus fruits, blueberries, apples and nuts
  • Cheeses: Goat (chevre), brie and blue cheese

Asian and Pacific Coffees: Sumatra

Coffees with a full body and low acidity should be paired with creamy, herbal and intense fare. These robust, earthy and sometimes floral coffees pair well with:

  • Foods: Foods containing maple, cinnamon, butter and herbs
  • Cheeses: Pavarti, smoked mozerella or gruyere

South American Coffees: Colombia, Brazil

Coffees with a medium to full (heavy) body and low to medium acidity should be paired with foods including chocolate, nuts or baked goods. These balanced and perfectly acidic coffees pair well with:

  • Foods: Milk chocolate, dark chocolate, cinnamon
  • Cheeses: Aged Gouda or cheddar

*Note: Of course, this is just a guideline. Always taste coffees before choosing a pairing. Some coffees can fluctuate depending on the season it was harvested and the roast level.

The goal here is simple. As a rule of thumb, the heavier the coffee, the heavier and richer the food or cheese should be. And vice versa: The lighter the coffee, the lighter the food or cheese should be. What you want is to match the flavors of the coffee and foods so they bring out each others' flavors and nuances to complement one another.

When choosing breakfast pairings, keep in mind the coffee should contribute to the meal. For most of us, it is our 'eye opener' for the rest of the day to get us going. When pairing for lunch or dinner, think picking a coffee you can sip over a period of time, whether it is hot or iced. Most after-dinner or end of meal coffees should be light, but stimulating. Espresso is usually best in that scenario.

Once you feel like you have mastered this step, try adding honey to your cheese before dipping. Bee-lieve us, this is worth trying! Choose the strongest honey that isn't floral. 

Consciously thinking about the types of foods you eat with drinking coffee will become like second nature. It will contribute to making every meal, whether it is breakfast, lunch or dinner, more rewarding. Especially if you are enjoying it with good company. You can make every eating experience delightful.

Happy Coffee Pairing!