If you are a coffee aficionado, you know that the right pairing with food can help bring out the flavor. As the website Talkingcoffee.com says, “Pairing coffee with desserts is an emerging art.” Coffees from different parts of the world have distinct flavors, so what you serve to eat will largely depend upon where the beans were grown.
Latin American Coffees
Coffees from Central and South America as well as the Caribbean have the rich flavors of nuts and cocoa. They are known for having a tangy flavor. They go well with breakfast breads and muffins, desserts that include nuts and caramel, and fruit such as apples, blueberries and lemons.
- Jamaica – known for its Blue Mountain coffee, which is rich, full, and balanced. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee goes well with blueberry coffee cake, doughnuts, or biscotti.
- Costa Rican – rich, sweet, caramel flavor that is complemented by light baked items like carrot cake, zucchini nut bread, fruit muffins, or tiramisu.
- Guatemalan – rich, yet mild, goes well with sliced apples dipped in caramel or something heavier like chocolate cake.
- Colombian – rich, sweet, caramel flavor that makes a good pairing with carrot cake or zucchini nut bread.
- Brazilian – sweet yet spicy, meshes with almond biscotti or buttery shortbread. A light roast Brazilian or Colombian coffee also goes well with strawberry shortcake or apple pie.
- Mexican – sweet hazelnut flavor, is tasty with citrus scones or muffins.
Coffees from Indonesia and the Pacific Islands are full-bodied, herbal and earthy, and pair well with cheese as well as rich, buttery items with toffee and caramel. Spicy flavors like cinnamon also go well with these coffees. This can include pecan and apple pie, caramel bars, and banana muffins.
- Kona – from Hawaii, one of the best-known coffees from this region, is very aromatic and spicy. It goes well with a wide variety of snacks, including banana muffins, oatmeal cookies, coffee cake, and maple bars.
- Sumatran and Javanese – heavier, with a more earthy, smoky taste. Rich desserts like chocolate torte and pecan pie can stand up to the rich, smooth, mellow flavor of these East Indian coffees.
Arabian coffees have berry and wine-like characteristics, and some have hints of spice and cocoa, while African beans tend to have a citrus flavor with a bit of a floral taste. They pair well with dried fruits, lemons and grapefruit, plus dishes featuring herbs and spices. Dark milk chocolate and cheesecake are also good complements.
- Tanzania Kilimanjaro – rich, goes well with fresh peach scones, apricot linzer torte, fruit tarts, and berry or apricot pie.
- Ethiopian – rich and spicy. It is well complemented by anything with lemons, such as lemon bars. Rich, heavy desserts like cheesecake also go well with a dark roast Ethiopian or Tanzanian coffee.
Just about all of these desserts and snacks can be served in bite-size pieces to make easy-to-eat finger foods. One of the keys to successfully pairing coffee and dessert is to understand a little bit about the characteristics of the coffee to find the best treats to serve with it. You do not need to be a coffee gourmet to do this well.