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Asher Brooks
Asher Brooks

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Why is it that some foods go inexplicably well with a cup of coffee such as a donut or a biscotto? Just like wine, coffee has an endless list of intricate tasting notes that may go unnoticed by the novice coffee drinker. From berry and tangerine to chocolate and caramel, each specific coffee has its very own flavor profile. And these unique tasting notes have the power to bring out certain flavors in your accompanying food. \n\n\n\nTo help you get started in the art of coffee and food pairing, you can begin by reading through our 5 best coffee and food pairing practices right below. Feel free to also take a gander through our comprehensive list of over 50 food and coffee pairings (listed by category i.e. breads, dairy, desserts, etc.). This will help give you a sense of the variety of coffee and food pairings available to you. \n\n\n\nAfter that, you can advance to more complex topics such as learning the most popular coffee flavor profiles (by region and\/or by roast level). Knowing these flavor profiles can help you pair food and coffee properly. After that, you'll be well on your way to becoming a food and coffee pairing expert. \n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n \n \n Coffee & Food Pairing Ebook\n Don't have time to read the whole post now? \n Download the FREE Coffee & Food Pairing Ebook so you can keep all of these food & coffee pairing tips at the ready. \n Grab it here! \n \n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nWatch this video to learn all 5 Coffee & Food Pairing Best Practices in 5 minutes\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nIn this article, you'll find all of the aforementioned and beyond to help you begin pairing food and coffee at home. Watch the above video to learn the 5 best coffee and food pairing practices to begin your own pairing endeavors at home. \n\n\n\nThere's a lot here, so don't feel like you need to read it all at once. Go through it slowly or download the Coffee and Food Pairing eBook (which contains all of this post's info & resources) and take each section in one-by-one at your own pace. \n\n\n\nBy the end of it all, you'll be prepared to pair food and coffee properly and find your favorite flavor combinations. Read on to get started. \n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n#toc-coffee-pairings a \n transition: transform 0.3s ease-out;\n display: inline-block;\n\n#toc-coffee-pairings a:hover \n transform: translate(10px);\n\n#toc-coffee-pairings span \n text-shadow: 0px 0px 1px #333;\n\n\nQuick Links For This Coffee & Food Pairing Post\n\nChapter 1.\n5 Coffee and Food Pairing Best Practices\n\nChapter 2.\nCoffee and Food Pairing Guide (PDF)\n\nChapter 3.\nFood Pairings By Category\n\n\na. Fruit Pairings\nb. Chocolate Pairings\nc. Bread Pairings\nd. Dairy\ne. Baked Good Pairings\nf. Savory Pairings\ng. Dessert Pairings\n\n\nChapter 4.\nFood and Coffee Pairing Chart (PDF)\n\nChapter 5.\nCoffee Flavor Profiles By Origin \n\nChapter 6.\nCoffee Flavor Profiles By Roast Level\n\nChapter 7.\nCommonly Asked Questions\n\nChapter 8.\nMost Popular Coffee\/Food Pairing Recipes\n\nChapter 9.\nOther Helpful Coffee & Food Pairing Articles\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nChapter 1.\n\n\n\n5 Coffee & Food Pairing Best Practices \n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nBefore delving too far into the exact foods you should pair with coffee & the exact coffees you should pair with certain foods, here are 5 pairing best practices to help lay down the groundwork. \n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n1. Like goes with like when pairing coffee & food.\n\n\n\nAs in wine pairing, like goes with like when pairing coffee and food. If your coffee has a more delicate and fruity tasting profile, consider a fruit tart as your pairing or a sorbet. If your coffee is full of nutty & chocolatey tasting notes, go for a chocolatey or nutty pairing such as a brownie or an almond croissant. \n\n\n\n2. Balance out the intensities. \n\n\n\nConsider the intensity of the coffee and food you're working with when pairing. If your coffee is dark and strong, consider a lighter pairing such as an oatmeal cookie or a vanilla cupcake to balance out the coffee's intensity. On the other hand, if your coffee is light in body & flavor, it's fine to opt for a richer dessert such as a chocolate truffle.\n\n\n\n3. Consider temperature to create more depth.\n\n\n\nTemperature can add more depth to your pairing experience and allow for some creative freedom. For instance, do you prefer a balance of temperatures such as with a flash-chilled iced coffee and a warmed croissant? Or do you prefer a warmer food and coffee pairing such as a freshly prepared donut served with a hot cup of drip coffee? The choice is yours!\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n4. Texture goes hand-in-hand with temperature. \n\n\n\nThe food's texture that you're dealing with can help you determine the ideal serving temperature of your coffee. For instance, if the food is crumbly & firm such as in biscotti, consider a hot coffee for dunking purposes and to soften the bread. If the food pairing is moist & soft in its texture profile, you have a little more freedom to opt for an iced coffee or hot latte. This practice is optional. \n\n\n\n5. Complementary flavors make for a more adventurous pairing. \n\n\n\nIf you want something more interesting when it comes to your coffee and food pairings, opt for complementary flavors. If your coffee boasts of a rather sweet flavor profile, be bold and go for a savory soft cheese or even a salty pairing such as a handful of cashews or even a side of beef! \n\n\n\nFor a coffee with spicy cinnamon tasting notes, choose a salty complement such as chocolate covered pretzels or something more simple such as vanilla ice cream to create a nice balance.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nChapter 2.\n\n\n\nFood and Coffee Pairing Guide\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nChapter 3.\n\n\n\nBest Food & Coffee Pairings (Categorically)\n\n\n\nIf you're more interested in the pairings themselves instead of the pairing etiquette, here\u2019s a list of the top 50 foods that pair best with coffee. Take a look at our comprehensive categorical list below. \n\n\n\nFruit Pairings\n\n\n\nThough there are a few exceptions (those being citrus-forward fruits), most fruit pairs well with coffee. Due to the fruity tasting notes present in most light roast coffees, this makes for a great alike pairing. Fruits also lend themselves well to complementary pairings. Take a look at some of the best fruit and coffee pairings below. \n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nBerries: Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and blackberries make excellent companions for your fruity coffees such as those from Kenya and Ethiopia. Berries also pair well with South American coffees following the complementary flavor rule. \n\n\n\nBananas: For anyone who loves that chocolate and banana combo (Arrested Development fans know what we mean), you can recreate this pairing by combining your banana slices with a dark roast coffee boasting of chocolate tasting notes. Consider coffee beans from Brazil or Colombia. \n\n\n\nToast with Jam: Another wonderful yet simple coffee pairing is toast with jam (jelly, apple butter, or any fruit spread for that matter). These fruit-based spreads have the capacity to complement nutty, caramelly, or chocolatey coffees. Toast and jam can also pair well with a fruity coffee such as a coffee from the South Pacific. \n\n\n\nDried Fruit: If you\u2019re a fan of dried cranberries, trail mix, and the like, you can enjoy these snacks alongside your favorite fruity coffee to create a fruit forward pairing. \n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nNeutral Fruits (Apple \/ Pear \/ Loquat): If you desire to taste only the flavor profile of your coffee, neutral fruits, such as apples and pears, are excellent palate cleansers. Enjoy these fruits alongside a light roast coffee that\u2019s bursting with floral tasting notes. \n\n\n\nJuicy Fruits (Orange \/ Watermelon \/ Melon \/ Pineapple): Pair juicy fruits with herbal and earthy coffees such as those coffees hailing from Asia. This will help to create an adventurous complementary pairing. \n\n\n\nSorbet: While not exactly a fruit, sorbet is bursting with fruity flavors. Sorbets pair well with bright coffees such as African coffees or even some Central American coffees such as those from Mexico, Guatemala and Nicaragua. \n\n\n\nChocolate Pairings\n\n\n\nIt seems pretty natural that chocolate would pair well with coffee considering that many coffee beans boast of chocolatey tasting notes. Most chocolate and coffee pairings won\u2019t steer you wrong, but here are a few favorites. \n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nDark Chocolate: With a more bitter profile, dark chocolate does best with a slightly sweeter coffee such as a Guatemalan coffee or a Colombian coffee. \n\n\n\nWhite Chocolate: White chocolate tends towards a sweeter profile lending itself well to an earthy coffee such as an Indonesian coffee. \n\n\n\nMilk Chocolate: In general, milk chocolate fits somewhere in between dark and white chocolate, and therefore, pairs beautifully with just about any coffee out there. It's very versatile. \n\n\n\nChocolate Truffles: For something as rich as chocolate truffles, it\u2019s best to try to create a balance when pairing with coffee. Opt for a coffee that\u2019s less intense in flavor such as a medium roast from Central America. \n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nChocolate Cake\/Cupcakes: The ideal coffee pairing for chocolate cupcakes or chocolate cake is espresso. An espresso is basically a very concentrated cup of coffee and is usually acidic (in a good way) and boasts of chocolatey undertones. This strong taste helps to cut down on the sweetness of the chocolate cake (that\u2019s a good thing!).\n\n\n\nBrownies: Depending on how you like your brownies, they can go with a range of coffee types. For brownies hot out of the oven, you can pair them with a nice cold brew or flash-chilled iced coffee to create a temperature contrast. Brownies also pair well with fruity coffees to create more of a contrast of flavors. \n\n\n\nBread Pairings\n\n\n\nBread is not only versatile in shape and size, but also in texture and taste. This makes for some incredible combinations with coffee. Peruse through some of our favorite coffee and bread pairings.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nCroissants: Croissants are buttery, flaky breakfast pastries that are often served at breakfast time. They\u2019re best enjoyed freshly baked, and they are the perfect coffee companion. \n\n\n\nThe coffee intensifies and complements the buttery sweetness of the croissant, making for a perfect match. Just about any coffee will do. \n\n\n\nPain Au Chocolat: This French croissant variation pairs especially with a fruity coffee. It creates a nice contrast and the buttery layers of the pain au chocolate are well-complemented with the bright flavors of the coffee. Think Burundi or Ethiopia coffee. \n\n\n\nZucchini Bread \/ Banana Bread \/ Pumpkin Bread: Sweet bread like banana and zucchini bread pair well with coffees from Indonesia with a more earthy flavor profile. This creates a nice balance. \n\n\n\nWhite, Whole Grain, and Whole Wheat Bread: Due to the neutrality of these types of bread, you can pair them accordingly with spicier coffees such as those hailing from Thailand or India. \n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nBelgian Waffles: Belgian waffles are often larger than American waffles, sport a rectangular shape, and are lighter in texture. They pair well with a less intense coffee to balance out the sweetness of the waffle. \n\n\n\nLess intense coffees tend to be medium roasts such as those from Latin America. See our Liege Belgian Waffle Recipe here. \n\n\n\nSourdough Bread: Sourdough bread is rather bitter in flavor, which pairs well with a sweeter and more mild coffee such as beans from Brazil, Ecuador, or Costa Rica. \n\n\n\nDAIRY PAIRINGS\n\n\n\nMany folks enjoy using milk (dairy \/ non-dairy) or creamer in their coffee. But despite knowing this, it's probably a surprise to discover that coffee can also be paired with a number of dairy products! From ice cream and custard to yogurt and cheese, here are a few great dairy and coffee pairings. \n\n\n\nYogurt: Pair yogurt with a medium roast coffee to add a hint of sweetness to your breakfast. Think Latin American coffee here. \n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nGelato: Due to its ultra-sweet make up, gelato pairs best with a bitter, dark roast coffee. This helps to create a nice balance between the sugary gelato and the bitter coffee. \n\n\n\nCustard: Custard is primarily made of egg yolks and sugar. It\u2019s a fairly heavy, yet simple, dessert that would pair best with a flavorful light roast coffee. Opt for a fruity or floral coffee from Tanzania or Burundi. \n\n\n\nPudding: Another simple dessert that\u2019s slightly lighter than custard is pudding. It pairs especially well with more interesting coffees such as those from Hawaii or Africa. \n\n\n\nIce Cream: There are a few ways you can go when eating ice cream and sipping coffee. Think complementary flavors and like flavors. Pair a fruity coffee with a chocolate or nutty ice cream. Or if you like fruit-flavored ice cream, pair it with a chocolatey coffee. The only limitation would be iced coffee drinks (to avoid brain freeze). See our Affogato Recipe here. \n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nSoft Cheeses: Soft cheeses tend to come off a bit more subtle than hard cheeses in terms of flavor. This makes them excellent pairings for more exotic coffees such as those with herbal and floral tasting notes. Think African and Asian coffees.\n\n\n\nHard Cheeses: Hard cheeses tend to have full and intense flavors. Therefore, it\u2019s important to choose wisely when pairing with coffee in order to find one that\u2019s not flavor intense. Go for a medium roast coffee such as one from Cuba or Costa Rica. Avoid pairing coffee with spicy cheeses. \n\n\n\nCheesecake: Like ice cream, cheesecake is fairly versatile therefore allowing you more creative pairing freedom than some of the other dairy items here. Berry cheesecakes can be paired with fruity coffees to create like flavors or more nutty coffees to create a contrast. See ice cream for more pairing ideas. \n\n\n\nBaked Good Pairings\n\n\n\nNaturally, baked goods are some of the best coffee pairings around. Go to any coffee shop and you\u2019ll find a delectable food pairing selection composed mostly of muffins, scones, and cookies. Read on for some of our favorite baked good pairings. \n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nPop Tarts: For the perfect coffee companion, consider a medium roast coffee. Most pop tarts have a lovely rich, buttery flavor, which would be nicely complemented with a fuller body coffee that has a low acidity. Think Sumatran coffee. See our Homemade Brown Sugar Cinnamon Pop Tarts Recipe here. \n\n\n\nCoffee Cake: Being that the word \u201ccoffee\u201d is in its name, it bodes well that coffee cake is one of the best foods to go along with coffee. Coffee cake boasts of cinnamon, sweet, and buttery flavors. You can pair coffee cake with a medium roast coffee Guatemala, Honduras & Panama are a few suggestions. This will help to bring out the natural sweetness of the cinnamon, which is the predominant flavor of coffee cake.\n\n\n\nDonuts: There\u2019s a reason coffee and donuts go hand in hand. This long time coupling has been a US-favorite for a long time due to the unique flavor combination. The bitterness of the coffee unbelievably complements the sweetness of the donut. Pair donuts with dark roasts such as coffee from Brazil or a dark roast blend. \n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nDanishes: Berry danishes, in particular, pair best with light roast coffee. Recommended coffee pairings include coffee beans from Jamaica, Kenya, Ethiopia, or Uganda. Try to find a coffee with tasting notes of blueberries, raspberries or strawberries. Light roast coffee beans will be your best bet.\n\n\n\nBiscotti: For the ultimate coffee pairing experience, consider a medium coffee boasting of more spicy flavors. This would likely be an Asian coffee with natural spices present. \n\n\n\nKringle: Kringle is an oval-shaped Danish baked good that\u2019s made of layers of Danish pastry and filled with fruits, cheese, and nutty pastes. It pairs beautifully with most coffees, but if you want something extra special try it with a Geisha coffee. This type of coffee is almost like tea and the flavors are complex and boasts of sweet floral notes. This mild quality works to delicately compliment the buttery and fruity flavors of this pastry, yet they won\u2019t entirely overtake the wonderful flavors of the Kringle.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nScones: Scones tend to be less sweet than many of the pairings in this section, and therefore would go best with a brighter and more exotic coffee. We recommend Ethiopian coffee, which is often praised for its incredible fruitiness. Often, Ethiopian coffee has flavors of strawberry, blueberry, and even floral tasting notes. These bright flavors create a complex and naturally sweet profile, which ultimately complements the delicate flavors of our cranberry scones. \n\n\n\nCookies: Look for coffees with nutty, chocolatey, or fruity tasting notes (depending on the kind of cookie you\u2019ve chosen). Nutty Coffees Recommendations: El Salvador, Ethiopian, or Brazil. Chocolate Coffee Recs.: Papua New Guinea or Nicaragua. Fruit Coffee Recs.: Costa Rica or Tanzania. See our Dark Chocolate Espresso Chunk Cookie Recipe. \n\n\n\nCinnamon Rolls: To get the best food and coffee combination, try cinnamon buns with a coffee of South American origin. These types of coffees are typically more nutty in flavor, and lean towards a medium or medium-dark roast. This more bitter flavor helps to reduce the sweetness of the cinnamon rolls ever so slightly.\n\n\n\nSavory Pairings\n\n\n\nMost of the pairings on this list have been sweet, but there are a few savory foods that also pair well with coffee. While mostly breakfast foods, you\u2019ll surely find a pairing or two you\u2019ll want to try this week at home in the morning.\n\n\n\nEgg Whites: The neutrality of egg whites allow for a more adventurous coffee pairing. You can opt for a bright and acidic coffee from Uganda, the Congo, or Madagascar. \n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nSoft Pretzels: When the saltiness of a soft pretzel is paired against a velvety sweet & chocolatey nitro cold brew coffee, you're in for a treat. The naturally sweet undertones of nitro brew with that well-known smooth texture brings out a tinge of sweetness from the pretzels. \n\n\n\nPork: Pair your bacon and sausage with a medium roast or medium-light coffee boasting of earthy tones such as a Mocha Java coffee or a Papua New Guinea coffee.\n\n\n\nNuts: Like goes with like couldn\u2019t be more true here. Enjoy your trail mix, salted cashews, or unsalted almonds with a nut-forward coffee such as one from Brazil or Nicaragua. \n\n\n\nCrepes: Enjoyed savory or sweet, crepes are incredibly versatile. They go great with many different types of coffee depending on their base. Fruity crepes pair well with fruit-forward coffees and medium roasts with caramel and nutty flavors. Savory crepes pair best with spicy and earthy coffees.\n\n\n\nQuiche \/ Omelette \/ Breakfast Sandwich: Each of these breakfast options tend to have a variety of flavors in each bite. Choose an earthy or herbal coffee to balance out the flavor intensity. \n\n\n\nDessert Pairings\n\n\n\nWhile we already dove into baked goods above, there are some desserts that we thought deserved their own category for their extra decadence. These are desserts you wouldn\u2019t necessaril


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