Pairing coffee with food - Our complete guide

Pairing coffee with food - Our complete guide

We all know that coffee and food can be a match made in sensory heaven, but I urge you stop for a moment and really think about just how often we consume the two side by side. Great coffee can be just as nuanced as wine and its wide-ranging properties mean it can be enjoyed with all types of food you might eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner and even dessert.

Much like with wine and cheese for example, these indulging experiences can be greatly enhanced by understanding the basics of taste pairing. Today, we’ve compiled our top tips to help you to try this out next time you brew up. We promise you’ll be surprised by how developed your senses can become with just a bit of practice. 

Matching flavours

The easiest way to pair the two is to make selections based on matching flavours. For example, a coffee with a sweet milk chocolate touch, like our Peruvian single-origin, would work great alongside a Pain Au Chocolat. This is a great place to start if you’re hoping to spruce up your morning cuppa. The great news is it’s really easy to get right and the result is wonderful. You’ll find the two reinforce each other wonderfully, making for a soothing experience. 

Contrasting flavours

This is a little harder to get right but it’s so worth it. I’d argue that it’s hard to find a more perfect combination than an English breakfast and our Colombian single-origin to wash it down. The sweet and fruity flavour of this coffee balances the savoury flavour of the food, almost acting as a pallet cleanser. Pairing in this way allows the flavours of each to shine through in their own right; ideal if you don’t want the two to overlap. 

Exploring food families

This is similar to matching the flavour but with a subtle twist. The idea here is to match the food family rather than the flavour to create a deep, complex experience. For example, our Italian Espresso is characterised by lovely notes of almond, so this could work great alongside a Pecan Pavlova or another nut-based food. This is a great way to get creative and really experiment with flavour pairing. 

Focus on Acidity

This is perfect if you want to impress guests with your coffee knowledge. Try finding an acidic coffee and pairing it with a food that has a similar type of acidity. High-grown Arabicas are commonly revered for their great acidic content, and our Ethiopia Sidamo single-origin is a prime example of this. Its citric acidity makes it ideal for pairing with citrus fruit desserts. We dare you to try this roast alongside a lemon sorbet and try telling us you weren’t blown away!

Hopefully that’s enough to get you tasting. We should also mention that these pairing methods don’t have to be limited to the flavour. Feel free to experiment by using the same techniques to pair any other characteristics such as aroma, finish, body etc. There’s some great pairings to be found in combinations you certainly wouldn’t expect. 

If you’d like to try any of the roasts mentioned or you’d like to browse our full range of coffee beans, simply click here. Everything we roast is sourced ethically and sustainably in accordance with Fairtrade standards. Plus, we do regular roasts in small batches just to ensure our customers and sipping the freshest coffee beans around. 

Happy tasting!