Although coffee is the world’s most popular beverage, besides serving it with breakfast, not much thought is given to pairing coffee with food. Although, pairing is not a surprising concept when you consider that coffee is an artisan beverage along the order of wine, beer, and tea.
It is noteworthy to realize coffee and food pairings are as much an art as science — heavily influenced by individual preference. To determine what you like, our team at Deep Sky Coffee suggests pairing similarities in flavor or experiment with contrasts (think about how salt on chocolate enhances the sweetness). Similarly, the high-salt content of an American breakfast tastes great with sweetened coffee. Also, food with a higher fat content is a perfect contrast for balancing astringency.
Determining which coffee and food are best together is entirely up to you, but the following pairings are a useful baseline.
Berries match well with African coffees (Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda). Deep Sky Coffee’s Ethiopia Yirgachefe single origin exemplifies this. Try Yemeni and Jamaican coffees with blueberries. Or, put fruit tarts to the test with Brazilian and Costa Rican.
Brazilian coffees also pair wonderfully with dark chocolate. Deep Sky Coffee’s single origin with strong nutty and chocolate notes is a good example. As well, try chocolate with coffees from Colombia, Guatemala, and El Salvador. Milk chocolate pairs well with Colombian, Kenyan, Sumatran, and Ethiopian. While white chocolate pairs well with Colombian, Costa Rican, and Yemeni. Note the role of milk in pairing coffee with chocolate. Milk not only cuts coffee’s acidity, but it also enhances the chocolatey notes.
From a bagel to a thick slice of boule, enjoy with coffee from Guatemala, Brazil, Costa Rica, Peru, or Columbia. After a long night of star gazing or night on the town, there’s nothing better than a hot buttered biscuit with The Observatory House Blend.
Jerk Chicken or a Southwestern Habanero Carrot Cake? Try spicy foods with coffees from Nicaragua, Honduras, or Costa Rica.
The high-fat content, full-body creaminess of cheese offsets coffee’s acidity (which may or may not be a good thing depending on your coffee preference). Consider that cheese with sweetness serves the same role as adding cream and sugar to your coffee. Coffee from El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Honduras (low-to-medium body with high acidity) pairs well with creamy types (ricotta and mozzarella). Ethiopia and Tanzania (medium- to full-body and medium acidity) pair well with brie, blue, and goat cheese. (Try Deep Sky Coffee’s Ethiopia single origin.) Sumatra (full body and low acidity) is nice with smoked mozzarella or gruyere. Colombia and Brazil (medium-to-full body and low- to -medium acidity) are excellent with aged cheddar. (Try both Deep Sky Coffee’s Brazil and Colombia single origin.)
Don’t get overly caught up in roast types or brewing methods. Instead, focus on the dominant flavor. There’s no right or wrong answer: go with your preference. The Specialty Coffee Association wheel, in conjunction with the World Coffee Research, examines flavors down to the chemical level. Or, go with the simplified Finnish version which offers the most common coffee flavors.