Coffee Pairing with Food

Elevate Your Coffee Experience with Expert Tips and Unique Pairings with food
September 12, 2023 by
Coffee Pairing with Food
Solai Coffee LLC, Peter Kuria
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How do you pair coffee with food? Pairing coffee with food is a special task that requires understanding the flavor wheel. Baristas utilize the sense of smell to create food flavors and pairings that match or exceed your expectations to make excellent coffee pairings.

In coffee, a barista's most essential tool is the sense of taste. Therefore, learning how to taste is crucial for any coffee brewer. Eager to learn more? Jump on!

As you strive to achieve your best art of coffee pairing formula, Solai Coffee brings high-quality coffee beans to match your dream flavors.

Coffee Pairing with Food

Consider the art of pairing coffee with food as that of a sommelier at your favorite restaurant. They are masters of pairing wine or chocolate with amazing food pairings to push that cheque as far down your wallet as possible. We consider the experience worth it, but these professionals have earned your money through fantastic tasting skills.

Coffee pairing is as good as food pairing with wine

Food and coffee pairing wheel

Coffee Tasting with Food 

Coffee tasting is like Wine and Chocolate; many flavors can be amplified or complemented by pairing them with food because coffee and food have similar flavors when different notes make one more noticeable. It is wonderful to enjoy coffee for the moment it creates – whether in the morning or after dinner! But for those who enjoy discovering nuances and hidden mysteries about where the coffee was grown or discussing your love for coffee in new ways, pairing coffee with foods is a wonderful method to add to the conversation!

Michelle Frame’s Coffee Pairings

Because so many pairings are around dinner and dessert, Michelle Frame, president and founder of Victus Ars, takes us through the art of pairing breakfast items with coffee in this article. Along with your favorite cup of coffee, gather the following for an enjoyable palate journey.




Whole Grain or Ancient Grain


Unsalted European



Sliced Apple

Honey-crisp or Gala


ButterKase Asiago 

or Pecorino

NutButter Cashew, 
Macadamia Peanut, 
or Almond
HoneyNeem or Manuka

To begin the pairing, smell the coffee with a deep inhale. Notice everything you love about it! Now take a sip and see if you taste notes you didn't notice in the first aroma. We smell differently from the front of the nose versus "retronasal" – smelling from the back of the throat.

An image of a woman smelling coffee drink from her cup

Then, try a bite of toast. Notice the warm, brown, toasty notes? Try the coffee again and see if you can pick up those similar notes. You may even notice yeasty notes that weren't there before.

An image showing a woman biting a bread toast with a cup of freshly brewed coffee on the table to showcase the art of coffee pairing with food
An image of bread toast with butter and a cup of freshly brewed coffee for tasting

Now slab the butter on the toast – don't be shy; this is a tasting! Taste the coffee again – the fat in the butter may bring out oil-based flavors that weren't as noticeable without the butter in your mouth.

Add cinnamon to the buttered toast, taste, and note the layered flavors. Not only are they individual, but they create a blended symphony! Taste the coffee again. Notice any other spices or aromas?

An image of bread toast with butter sprinkled with cinnamon on top to add the flavor
A photo showing a white plate with apple and cheese slices.

Add a slice of cheese to the apple and taste again—the creamy, nutty, buttery flavors of the cheese complement the tartness and fruitiness of the apple. Tasting the coffee again allows similar flavors to come out and play!

Finally, try a drizzle of honey over the cheese and apple. The light, woody, floral, grassy, clover, and sweet notes of the honey add another layer of flavor and texture. 

If you are now thinking croissant-wrapped baked brie drizzled with honey and served with apple slices is your new breakfast, we are probably friends who haven't met.

Tips to Improve Your Coffee Tasting Skills

  • Taste Mindfully

When tasting, we usually analyze the acidity, saltiness, sweetness, or bitterness while using the aroma to assess the general impression of coffee. However, understanding what flavor memories generated separates the best from the excellent Baristas. Use this process to flicker about flavor memories for a better assessment. For beginners, using the SCA Flavor Wheel is advisable.

  • Practice to perfect your Coffee Tasting Skills

Work for it! The two differ, while wine tasting, a more traditional art, is the benchmark for coffee tasting. Unlike wine, coffee flavors do not change over time. However, pairing coffee with food should be a constant practice to take advantage of clean flavors and avoid potential off-tastes.

Contrasts and Similarities for Amazing Coffee Pairings 

In art, there are no wrong or right answers. The same rule applies to coffee tasting and food pairing. Use the similarities and contrasts of coffee flavors to understand what foods elevate those notes. 

Taste components separately and brainstorm what flavors you believe would compliment your coffee and what may not.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this breakfast coffee pairing and you continue exploring more on how to bring the best out of our Solai Coffee beans

Coffee Pairing with Food
Solai Coffee LLC, Peter Kuria September 12, 2023
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