We often get asked how to pair coffee with food and there are so many ways to answer that question. I like warm cider donuts to dunk in a cappuccino. That’s my own holy grail of coffee and food pairing although in my book any good coffee goes well with a chocolate cake dessert. Especially if the coffee has some cream in it.
There’s no right answer except to experiment. But we can share a few opinions from some of the coffee pros (not us – yes, we make a living from coffee – but I mean the people who make a living from being ‘smart’ about coffee and food.)
Ken Davids, the famous coffee writer and reviewer, once said in a presentation that the whole idea was a little overdone, but that in general, heavy coffee flavors (Indonesians, dark roasts, extra bold K Cups, press pot coffee) go with heavy foods and lighter coffee flavors (Central American coffees, light roast blends) go with lighter foods. He worried that “people feel locked in and loose spontaneity” getting worked up about the right match.
Another writer, Timothy James Castle, says there are two ways to pair food with coffee. Contrast – pair foods with coffees that are very different; or resonance – pair foods and coffees that are similar (a la Ken Davids’ approach). By the way, Mr. Castle also suggests that if you are using coffee to cook with or to flavor a dish for an evening meal, use decaf. Apparently, he learned that lesson the hard way.
If you’re serving good coffee and good food, you can’t go wrong. Happy Holidays!