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Dec 5, 2011 11:23 AM

Pairing food with coffees - is there such a thing?

I was never a big coffee drinker, and I never drank it with the main meal - just with dessert or by itself. Now, I'm drinking more with meals and I'm discovering that some of the foods I eat are enhanced by coffee. Are there guidelines about pairing coffee with food as there are with wines and beers? Yes, I know the philosophy about drinking what you like no matter what the rules are, but I'm curious to see if anyone has guidelines. Keep in mind that I'm not a coffee guru, so any suggestions would have to be on the basic, inexpensive side of the things.

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  1. Yes... sort of. Coffee as a beverage hasn't had the history of association with food that wine and beer have. It does, however, pair very well with many things.

    What I would recommend is depending on your pairing philosophy (contradictory flavors vs. complementary flavors), is to thing about what it is you're pairing. Coffee is pretty acidic, generally very bold in flavor, somewhat bitter, and generally served hot (play around with this one though). Find some foods that you might thing would be interesting with coffee... chocolate (pretty classic), prosciutto (hot coffee with some nutty, creamy prosciutto or lardo -- I would go with a lighter coffee with this, something from Ethiopia if you can get it), truffled foodstuffs (try it... sounds bizarre but I love it), etc.

    1. Coffee goes well with ham (think red-eye gravy). Maybe try it with other smoked/smoky flavors. I'm sure I've had BBQ and coffee, and now I feel like having it again!

      1. Coffee goes well with just about any egg-based dish, sweet or savory.

        I also like coffee with sugary cereals.