How to Pair Coffee With Food

Enhance Your Coffee Experience With the Right Pairing

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 and food pairings that are easy to enjoy at home or in coffee shops and restaurants.

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 as the results can be cacophonous!

  • Berries: Kenyan and Haitian coffees are great with any kind of berries. Yet, you'll find that Yemeni and Jamaican coffees are even better with blueberries.
  • Stonefruits: Fresh or baked into sweets, stonefruits such as peaches, plums, and apricots are delicious with Tanzanian and Haitian coffees.
  • Tarts: Fruit tarts are exceptional with medium- to dark-roasted Brazilian and Costa Rican coffees.

Chocolate Pairings

Coffee and chocolate are an amazing pairing, so you might want to consider a chocolate treat with your afternoon coffee. While a regular cup is delicious, these pairings can be even better when you use that brew to make espresso drinks.

  • 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-roasted coffees, but it is especially tasty 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. Try tart chocolate-covered cherries with citrusy Ethiopian Sidamo for a real treat.
  • 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 Good Pairings

Whether you bake them yourself, stop by a bakery, or buy the goodies many coffee shops offer, baked goods are just a little better with a cup of coffee.

  • 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 and we've already discussed chocolate cake. You'll find that carrot cake is fantastic with Colombian coffee and that nearly any type of cake is great with any coffee you have. Have fun exploring this pairing because 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 Bread: Anyone who is inclined to bake will definitely want to explore coffee bread recipes. You can use their individual flavor profiles to pair them with the right coffee.
  • Coffee Cake: Danishes and coffee cakes pair well with most coffees. However, 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? Cafè 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: Scones are 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 caffè breve.
  • Sweet Breads: Zucchini bread with nuts is amazing with Colombian coffee. 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

Enjoying a cup of coffee with breakfast is natural for many people. Yet, have you thought about exploring different types of coffee with your favorite breakfast foods? Try something new and you may just have the best breakfast ever!

  • 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 or Sausage: This American-style breakfast is great with a medium roast Costa Rican coffee.
  • Omelets: Coffees from Java, Sumatra, and Indonesia can handle the full flavors of savory brunch foods like omelets.
  • Oatmeal: A 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 are 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 cafè au lait are also worth trying with simple breakfasts.