Coffee pairing is the ability to match coffee with certain foods in order to enhance the dining experience. Yes, coffee can be paired with a lot of other types of foods, not just pastries. A good example of this is the salty and starchy American style breakfast, which consists of eggs, bacon, toast, or hash browns. This is usually paired with coffee. Coffee doesn’t always have to be paired with sweet foods.
Coffee pairing is more of an art than a science. It has a range of flavors and other tasting notes. See my post about the coffee flavors here for more information. Therefore, coffee can be paired with many different types of foods that share similar flavors. The other artisan drinks, such as beer, wine, and tea, also have a pairing library. A light German lager goes well with chicken. Prosecco is great with fish. Darjeeling is awesome with dark chocolate. Coffee is also an artisan drink. It is very much part of the foodie realm. It is only natural that coffee can be paired with other foods.
Everything comes down to personal preference when it comes to coffee. I’ve argued that personal preference is one of the beautiful qualities about the society of coffee lovers. We all enjoy coffee differently. Therefore, determining which coffee and food pair well together is entirely up to you. But I wanted to give you a good start into coffee pairing so you can refine your own preference. I created a simple guide to coffee pairing below for your reference.
Most berries (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, etc.), pair well with coffees from Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, Jamaica, or Yemen.
Peaches, plums, raisins, apricots, cherries, nectarines, and citrus fruits pair well with coffee from Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Honduras, Bolivia, Costa Rica, or Nicaragua.
Chocolate goes great with coffees from Brazil, Columbia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Kona, or Mexico. Brazilian coffee goes exceptionally well with Dark Chocolate.
Wheat, whole wheat, and whole grain bread goes well with coffee from Guatemala, Brazil, Costa Rica, Peru, or Columbia
Cheese, butter, and cream can be paired with coffee from Sumatra, Java, India, Kona, or Papua New Guinea.
Iced coffees from Nicaragua, Costa Rica or Honduras are good with spicy foods.
Focus on coffees with fruit notes such as coffee from Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Jamaica, Hondura, or Bolivia.
Beef, pork, and lamb pair well with coffee from Sumatra, Papua New Guinea, India, or the Dominican Republic. Dark roast coffees are best with meats.
(Note: All coffees pair well with Doughnuts, sweet pastries, cookies, and puff pastries)
Be mindful of the different coffee roasts. A coffee roast will alter the flavor of the coffee. Therefore, it may alter the food pairing. Check out my post about the different types of coffee roasts here for more details.
There are more variables that can affect coffee pairings, such as acidity, brew methods, extraction time, and coffees growing region. All of the above may alter the coffee flavors but don’t worry about these technicalities. My advice would be to focus on the dominant flavor of the coffee at first (i.e. Berries are the dominate flavor of Ethiopian coffee). Then experiment with different roast types and other variables that affect the coffee flavor. This will help you narrow down certain notes that are attributed to certain variables. Finally, you’ll be able to pair your coffee with specific foods. Remember, it’s your preference. Enjoy your coffee pairing exploration!