How to Pair Coffee and Desserts Plus Pairing Inspiration
Coffee is a popular beverage that you can get just about anywhere and in any variety between hot and cold, and it happens to pair well with many different kinds of desserts. But why coffee and dessert, some may ask? Well, there are folks who say that having coffee with dessert cuts back on and contrasts well with some of the sweetness and richness of the dessert, while others feel that it helps with digestion.
But pairing coffee with dessert can be tricky because you don’t want to throw just any kind of dessert with any kind of coffee. So when you’re considering what kind of dessert or morning sweets will pair best with your coffee, there are a few general guidelines to think about.
The Body of the Coffee
When referring to the body of the coffee, you are talking about how strong it is as well as how it feels in your mouth; does it feel light or heavy? A heavy-bodied coffee should be paired with something rich like chocolate. Meanwhile, a full-bodied coffee, which feels rich and you can still taste it once you’ve swallowed it, goes best with a creamy dessert like cheesecake. Finally, light-bodied coffees go well with light desserts like cookies and tarts.
How Acidic the Coffee Is
The acidity in coffee is what causes that bright, bold flavor that hits your tongue and makes your eyes pop wide open, and concentrated levels of particular acids can create a variety of sweet and sour flavors. Acidic coffees are best paired with fresh fruit, fruit pies, or fruit tarts, because the acidity of the coffee plays up the acidity in the fruit, helping to enhance the flavor profile.
The Aroma of the Coffee
Finally, the aroma of the coffee has just as much to do with its perfect dessert pairing as taste and mouth feel. If the coffee has no particular smell, it tends to fall flat in flavor as well. So the best way to tell how well an aromatic coffee will go with your dessert is to see how it mixes with the dessert you have in mind. Coffees can have such complex flavor notes as nutty and floral, so take these qualities into account when thinking of the best dessert pairing.
Try to avoid coffees and desserts that have similar flavors unless of course there are other flavor profiles that can be enhanced. For example, you don’t want to pair a Pumpkin Spice Latte with a slice of pumpkin pie. Also, consider roast levels when it comes to the coffee you choose for your pairings; light roasts go better with lighter desserts, while darker roasts go best with heavier desserts.
So whether it’s a morning sweet treat with your cup of coffee or a dessert before bed paired with a mug of your favorite joe, let’s take a look at eight of our picks for the best coffee and dessert pairings.
Double Chocolate Chunk Orange Cookies
This chocolatey, fruit-infused dessert is best paired with a light or medium roast coffee because the rich cocoa and hints of orange help to balance out any bitterness in the coffee, while the coffee flavor intermingles with the chocolate for a smooth flavor profile.
Flourless Chocolate Cake
When you make a Flourless Chocolate Cake, you should think about pairing it with your next espresso! Espresso is served as a shot rather than how coffee is traditionally served, so something this concentrated and bold in flavor deserves to be paired with a rich, chocolatey dessert like Flourless Chocolate Cake.
Cinnamon Crumb Cake
Cinnamon Crumb Cake is what you’d expect from a coffee cake, but with a fresh take because of its cinnamon-enhanced crumble. This coffee cake is best when paired with either a light roast coffee or a coffee with cinnamon infused into it. The delicate flavors of the light roast coffee and the more bold cinnamon play off of each other, and the coffee itself lends a little more moisture to this delicious cinnamon delight.
Although there are some who would raise their eyebrows at the thought of pairing ice cream with coffee, there are others who fully embrace it, and why not? When it comes to ice cream desserts, the best kind of coffee to pair them with is a cappuccino. Because the flavor and texture of some ice creams and cappuccino can be quite similar, we recommend this pairing with an ice cream dessert that has some texture, such as cookie crumbles.
Ahh, a fresh, delicious fruit tart is a light and delicious dessert option, but what kind of coffee would you possibly pair with it? It’s recommended to pair a latte with a fruit tart or many other kinds of light desserts like small cookies, because a latte is an espresso shot with milk; along with coffee, what beverage goes down well with dessert?
Sweetheart Raspberry Cinnamon Rolls
Another great cinnamon dessert that can be paired with coffee, Sweetheart Raspberry Cinnamon Rolls offer the sweet, slightly tangy flavor of raspberries and sinfully decadent cinnamon and sugar. This fruity take on the cinnamon roll goes best with a vanilla flavored coffee, because the bitterness of the coffee will help to balance out the sweetness of the cinnamon roll’s glaze, while the vanilla balances out the tang of the raspberries and enhances their sweet notes.
Vanilla Buttercream Cupcakes
A simple, yet delicious vanilla cupcake with buttercream frosting is a dessert that is best paired with Americano. Americano is essentially a latte, except that the milk is instead hot water, making it a lighter coffee that doesn’t take away from the rich buttercream frosting and blends beautifully with the vanilla cupcake.
Cafe au Lait
As strange as it sounds, if you’re having Cafe au Lait, your best bet is to pair it with a coffee flavored dessert. This is because Cafe au Lait is one of the lightest and one of the least flavorful coffee drinks, so to pair it with a coffee flavored dessert means that you will enhance the coffee flavors all the way around.
There are all kinds of pairing combinations when it comes to coffee and desserts, but we hope that our guide on how to best pair your coffee and desserts, as well as our eight favorite picks for coffee and dessert pairings, has been helpful and has opened your eyes to try more new things!