How to Pair Coffee With Food

Coffee and croissant
antonio.renzetti / Twenty 20

From breakfast to dessert, coffee is a delicious drink to sip with food. Here are some classic coffee-food pairings that are easy to enjoy at home or out on the town.

Fruit Pairings
Fresh fruits and fruit-based sweets can offer a lighter, healthier pairing option for some coffees. Just be careful not to overdo sour tones in your pairing selections - the results can be cacophonous!

  • Berries - Kenyan and Haitian coffees are great with any kind of berries, but Yemeni and Jamaican coffees are even better with blueberries.
  • Stonefruits (peaches, plums and apricots) - Fresh or baked into sweets, stonefruits are delicious with Tanzanian and Haitian coffees.
  • Tarts - Fruit tarts are exceptional with medium-to-dark roast Brazilians and Costa Ricans.

If you like to enjoy fruit with cheese, you'll probably also like these fruit, cheese and coffee pairings. Chocolate Pairings
Chocolate and coffee is a long-standing favorite amongst food-and-drink pairings. Espresso drinks like Caffé Mochas, Caffé Lattes and Ristrettos make perfect sense with chocolate, as do a number of different coffee origins. Here are some top coffee-chocolate pairings from bars to cake.
  • Brownies - Full-bodied coffees from Indonesia or Guatemala pair beautifully with dark chocolate brownies.
  • Chocolate Cake - Chocolate cake is great with most medium- or dark-roast coffees, but is especially great with chocolaty Guatemalans. Chocolate mousse cake is delicious with most Arabica coffees. Vanilla-bean-iced chocolate cupcakes are wonderful with Colombian coffee.
  • Chocolate-Dipped Fruit - Chocolate-dipped fruit is good with most African coffees. Tart chocolate-covered cherries are great with citrusy Ethiopian Sidamo in particular.
  • Dark Chocolate - Dark chocolate is ideally paired with Indonesian, Brazilian, Ethiopian, Guatemalan and dark roast coffees.
  • Milk Chocolate - It's hard not to pair milk chocolate with all types of coffee, but Colombian, Kenyan, Sumatran, Yemeni, Ethiopian and Kona work best.
  • White Chocolate - White chocolate's milder flavor pairs better with Colombian, Costa Rican and Yemeni coffees.

Baked Goods Pairings
What would Italians do without coffee and biscotti? What would Canadians and Americans do without their doughnuts and coffee? These coffee pairings are ingrained in the daily lives of many. Here are a few popular ways to enjoy pairing coffee with baked goods.
  • Biscotti - Perhaps the most popular baked good to enjoy with coffee in the U.S. outside of doughnuts, biscotti comes in flavors and varieties to suit nearly any palate. Almond is classic, but cherry, chocolate and other types are also well worth trying. Full-flavored biscotti is also great with espresso.
  • Cakes - Cake and coffee is a classic pairing. Carrot cake is fantastic with Colombian coffee. Chocolate cake pairings are listed above under "Chocolate Pairings." Beyond these few suggestions, the possibilities are endless!
  • Caramel Flan - The rich, salty-sweet flavor of caramel flan works well with Indonesian and Guatemalan coffees.
  • Cinnamon Buns - The caramel and chocolate notes in Colombian and Guatemalan coffees are a natural fit for cinnamon buns.
  • Coffee Breads - Anyone who is inclined to bake should check out this list of top ten coffee breads. Use their individual flavor profiles to pair them with coffee.
  • Coffee Cake - Danishes and coffee cakes pair well with most coffees, but light- or medium-roast Hawaiian and Nicaraguan coffees are particularly good.
  • Croissants - You can pair unadorned coffees with croissants, but why not take a cue from the French? Café au Lait pairs so much better!
  • Doughnuts - Different types of doughnuts pair well with different coffees. Many coffee-and-doughnut lovers swear by milk and sugar with pretty much any type of coffee and any type of doughnut. Smooth, sweet Costa Rican coffee is especially well suited to pairing with doughnuts.
  • Muffins - Like doughnuts, most muffins work with most coffees. Some find that Costa Rican and Mexican coffees are especially good with muffins.
  • Oatmeal Raisin Cookies - Light- to medium-roast Nicaraguan and Kona coffees are ideal for pairing with the lighter flavor of oatmeal raisin cookies.
  • Scones - They're not just for tea! Fruit scones are great with winey coffees from Yemen, Kenya and Haiti. Unflavored scones are good with Costa Ricans and maple raisin scones are perfect for Kona or Nicaraguan coffee. Citrus scones are great with Mexican and Ethiopian coffees.
  • Shortbread - The buttery, dense flavor and texture of shortbread is delicious with Costa Rican or Brazilian coffees, or with a Caffé Breve.
  • Sweet Breads - Zucchini bread with nuts is amazing with Colombian. Banana nut bread is great with Costa Rican, Kenyan or Kona coffee, and pumpkin bread with nuts is incredible with Colombian or Costa Rican coffee. They're all great with Espresso con Panna.

Breakfast Food Pairings
The light, balanced flavor of most Central American coffees is ideal for many breakfast foods, but here are a few breakfast coffee pairings that go beyond the basics.
  • Crepes - Pair savory crepes (those with ingredients like vegetables, herbs, cheese and meats) with bold Pacific Island coffees. Pair Nutella or chocolate crepes with Colombian coffee. Berry crepes are great with Kenyan or Haitian coffees. They're all also easily paired with espresso and espresso-based drinks.
  • Eggs and bacon/sausage - This American-style breakfast is great with medium-roast Costa Rican coffee.
  • Omelets with Mushrooms, Basil and/or Chevre - Java, Sumatra and Indonesian coffee can handle the full flavors of savory brunch foods like omelets.
  • Oatmeal - Light-roast Kona or Nicaraguan coffee is ideal with oatmeal.
  • Pancakes with Maple Syrup - Kona and Nicaraguan coffee complement the maple and the pastry flavors of this classic breakfast food.
  • Quiche - The full, savory flavors of many Pacific Island coffees is great with quiche.
  • Wheat Toast - Light- or medium-roast Costa Rican, Colombian, Guatemalan and Brazilian coffees are great with simple, grainy breakfasts, such as toast or cereal. Cappuccino and Café au Lait are also worth trying with simple breakfasts.
Learn more about pairings coffee with breakfast foods in this guide to coffee breakfast pairings.