BLOG // // 5.12.2019

Flavour Pairing with Coffee - Playground in the Kitchen

Out of the several ways you can make flavour pairing with coffee, we will now talk about two of them: coffee as an ingredient and coffee served with a perfect match. Coffee is delicious on its own but flavour pairing it perfectly with sweet or savory can lift them both to another level. Check my tips what to consider when flavour pairing coffee!

Twist the ingredients 

Preparing food and going through the same old recipes can sometimes be dull. Think coffee as an ingredient of a dish. Why not to use brewed coffee or even finely ground coffee to give the food an exotic twist? Of course you cannot add coffee to everything (or at least you probably shouldn’t). 
BTW, have you tried out a new classic: coffee hummus? If not, check the recipe for that and other savory tips from my Coffee in Food blog post. Graving for something sweet instead? Then my Sweet Coffee Desserts blog post is for you to drool! 

Sweet coffee dessert

Some of the friends of coffee around the world like their cup of joe with a hint of a spice or a syrup. Let’s think about the spices usually available in a coffee shop: cardamom, cinnamon, cocoa powder… And what about the syrups: at least vanilla, chocolate and hazelnut… Now think about all the flavours listed above. They are quite often quoted on a coffee pack label, right? This is not a coincidence. It is just so that some flavours go nicely with coffee when added as a spice or as a flavor to the cup. Usually because the coffee itself has some similar flavours.  

a book about flavor
The Flavor Thesaurus by Niki Segnit

I recently read “The Flavour Thesaurus” from Niki Segnit. After finishing the book all I wanted to do was to buy some Norwegian brown cheese, “ekte geitost” to top my sour bread with and flush the delicacy down with a cup of good coffee! 

The book also reminded me of the Asian way of combining avocados and condensed milk into coffee. Should try that once again! 

Not to forget about banoffee: the magical feast of biscuits, banana and condensed milk seasoned with coffee. Thinking of that makes my head and teeth ache but who cares. ?   

Match them good 

Matching the choice of coffee with a perfect sweet or savory delicacy. Sounds easy? 
What about matching a dinner with wines that bring out the most of the food? Sounds hard? 
They are actually both as hard to do (or as easy for that matter). 

The key is to raise the ingredients to the next level by creating a great combination. However if the ingredients don’t make a nice match, one might be undermined while the other is overruling. The flavor can also be turned into something completely else and even weird and bad with a wrong match!  

Then how to make a perfect match? First, check the information on the coffee pack label. There are many hints for you when starting to pick up a match.  

  • origin: each origin and area have their typical flavour profile that is quite easily combined to food    
  • processing method: each method gives the coffee a distinctive flavour that can, together with the other servings, be a hit or a miss   
  • flavor description: the descriptive words as nutty, floral or berrylike help you to pick the ingredients complete the coffee experiment   
  • intensity of the flavor, sweetness, acidity and bitterness: make sure the intensity of the food flavour is equal to these 
  • roast level: roasty coffee needs toasty snack and vice versa
nice coffee packaging


This all comes down to the Coffee Tasters’ Flavour Wheel. You can read more from my previous blog post about flavour in general. Isn’t it fascinating how we sense the taste, the aroma and the mouthfeel of food and drinks? Flavour pairing isn’t just for fun, it can be a powerful business tool as well!

Oh, and if you happen have a great flavour pair in your mind, please share it by commenting below!