Coffee and Food Pairing

Discover and learn the fundamentals of coffee tasting like a professional, and the best food and coffee combinations.

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. 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. 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.

white espresso cup on table

Getting Started

Firstly, you have to make sure you start with a good-quality, ethically sourced coffee. At Esquires Coffee, we use delicious Fair-Trade coffee made to its best 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 using a cafetière or a filter system and use freshly ground coffee.


The tasting journey starts long before the cup touches your lips. It starts from the moment you open the bag of coffee and you smell the aroma. Make sure you take some time to focus on the scent and see if you can pick up on any key points.

man smelling coffee in a glass

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. Rule number one is always to taste mindfully. The key areas to analyse are acidity, bitterness, sweetness and saltiness and the balance between them, as well as the mouthfeel, structure and colour of the drink.

Flavours commonly associated with coffee are:
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 feel these notes next time you have a coffee! The key to learning how to tase 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 Ten Interesting Facts About Coffee?

red cherries in a bowl


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.

Fruit – Try complementing classic combination by pairing coffee with chocolate-dipped fruit. Stone fruits such as cherries and plums work brilliantly, and professionals often use blueberries.
Chocolate – Don’t limit yourself when it comes to chocolate. Experiment with dark, white and milk and don’t forget about a rich chocolate cake!
Vanilla – 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.
Cinnamon – This can be enjoyed as a cinnamon bun or toast, or even sprinkled on top of a cappuccino for a slightly spicy pairing.
Bagel – 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.

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