Coffee and Food Pairing

The art of food and drink pairing has been the occupation of chefs and sommeliers for decades. Until recently, however, the practice has been mostly limited to wines and restaurants.

A guide to types of coffee drinks

A cup of coffee next to a teaspoon

A New Trend

The last few years have seen an explosion of creative and enticing beverage pairings, ranging from real ale to tea, and, of course, coffee. In fact, pairing certain foods with coffee is an emerging new trend.

Here at Esquires Coffee, our coffee franchise is dedicated to ensuring our customers get the most out of their coffee! With this in mind, we’ve curated the perfect beginner’s guide to pairing food and coffee so that you can try it for yourself!

A cafetière pouring a coffee

Getting Started

Firstly, you have to make sure you start with a high-quality, ethically sourced coffee. At Esquires Coffee, we use delicious Fair-Trade and organic coffee expertly made by our professionally trained baristas, perfect for pairing with our tasty cakes and lunches!

If you’re practising pairing at home, there are several options for a beautifully crafted homebrew. Try buying our own Esquires coffee beans for your home or using a cafetière or a filter system with freshly ground coffee.

Coffee beans on a blue surface


The tasting journey starts long before the cup touches your lips. It begins from the moment you pop the bag of coffee open, unleashing its aroma.

The aroma can be affected by the roast of the coffee and it is assumed that a darker roast tends to provide smoky and burnt notes. Lighter roasts, on the other hand, tend to offer fruitier and herb aromas.

Descriptors of coffee aroma may be:

• Nutty
• Smoky
• Herby
• Flowery

Make sure you take some time to focus on the scent and see if you can pick up on any key points.

A cup of milky coffee

Taste Education

The next step is to learn how to taste complex flavours. The science of taste is complicated, and people spend their entire lives mastering the art.

The basics, however, are more straightforward and, once accomplished, you can use them as the foundations of your coffee tasting journey.

Be Mindful

Rule number one is always taste while being mindful. The key areas to analyse are:

• Acidity
• Bitterness
• Sweetness
• Saltiness

Consider the balance between them, as well as the mouthfeel, structure and colour of the drink.


Flavours commonly associated with coffee include:

Roasted – Ash, grain, tobacco
Nutty and Cocoa – Nuts, cocoa beans, chocolate
Spicy – Anise, pepper, liquorice
Sweet – Caramel, honey, toffee
Fruity – Sweet, citrus and berry
Floral – Rose and jasmine

Try to notice these notes next time you have a coffee! The key to learning how to taste complex flavours is to practice, so keep trying different combinations.

If you love coffee as much as we do and want to learn more, why not check out our blog on Ten Interesting Facts About Coffee below?

CTA button to Esquires Coffee blog 10 interesting facts about coffee


Now you know how to practice and taste, it’s time to find the most delectable edible counterparts to accompany your brew.

Chocolate and coffee are a classic and timeless combination. But adding something extra to the mix can create an entirely new flavour pattern and even bring out undiscovered flavours on both sides.

Cherries growing on a tree


Try complementing classic combinations by pairing coffee with chocolate-dipped fruit. Stone fruits such as cherries and plums work brilliantly, and professional pairers often use blueberries.

Biscuits and Pastries

We all remember the opening scene of Breakfast Tiffany's. Audrey Hepburn looks like the epitome of elegance as she eats her croissant and sips her coffee. This is, in fact, a great food and coffee pairing and a firm favourite at breakfast time!

Other sweet treats to try include:

• Biscotti (full flavoured is perfect with espresso)
• Shortbread
• Sweet breads
• Doughnuts


Don’t limit yourself when it comes to chocolate. Experiment with dark, white and milk and don’t forget about a rich chocolate cake and beautiful brownies!

Vanilla plant on a wooden surface


Vanilla works wonderfully with many types of coffee. Pastries and cakes that contain vanilla will complement beautifully, or you could try the delicious affogato.

An affogato is traditionally vanilla ice cream topped or ‘drowned’ with a shot of hot espresso. There are now many variations that involve adding whipped cream or chocolate.


This can be enjoyed as a cinnamon bun or toast, or even sprinkled on top of a cappuccino for a slightly spicy pairing.

Breakfast Pairing

While much on this list is sweet, there are some savoury options. Coffee and breakfast are synonymous, and you can pair your morning brew with eggs, crepes, wheat toast and bagels.

Why not take your love of coffee one step further with an Esquires coffee franchise? We can offer fantastic opportunities to be a part of our growing community that provides the freedom of an independent coffee shop, with the benefits of an established brand.

For more information, take a further look at our website or contact us on the link below!

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About the author - Jack Anderson

Jack has been working in the franchise sector for over 12 years and is our in-house guru on all things business! Jack is also a keen hiker and can be found in some of the UK's best walking spots on the weekends.