When it comes to pairing food with drinks these days, we might think of wine, even beer, cider and cocktails. Not many think of pairing coffee with food in order to enhance the complex flavors of both. After all, for hundreds of years, coffee wasn’t really created with diverse flavor in mind.
These days, farmers, roasters and baristas (as well as you coffee-brewers at home) have the knowledge and technology needed to produce fine coffee that offers an array of enticing tastes, from bitter chocolate and nutty, earthy notes to bright citrus and fruit flavors. You can now find a huge variety of distinct coffee flavors and aromas, which makes coffee ripe for pairing with food.
There’s nothing better than enjoying a dark roast with a deep dark chocolate cheesecake or a sweet and nutty coffee expression with an apricot-dijon glazed turkey. Coffee pairing is the perfect way to elevate your holiday get-togethers - and we’re here to offer some pointers on how to best enjoy the experience. Here’s our ultimate guide to pairing food with Kona coffee.
Why Pair 100% Kona Coffee with Food?
If you’ve ever paired food with a fine wine, you probably already know how the right wine can intensify the flavor of food, and visa versa. You can experience the same thing with coffee. In fact, we find coffee pairing to be even more of an enlightening experience than wine pairing, because many typically don’t take the time to discover the complex flavors in their coffee. Pairing coffee with food really helps people to discover and connect with the richness of Kona coffee.When you pair a complex coffee, like Kona coffee, with complementary food, the pairing should open up a new world of flavor to you. If done correctly, you will notice flavors that you never experienced before in your coffee or food. All in all, you should have one of the most delicious coffee-drinking and eating experiences of your life.
How to Pair Coffee with Food
To truly get the most out of both Kona coffee and the dish you have prepared, it’s important to pair your coffee with food that has complementary flavors. Otherwise, you won’t get much out of the pairing - you may even diminish your tasting experience. Thankfully, it’s pretty easy (and fun!) to pair food once you have these basics down.
The primary goal is to identify the distinct flavors in your coffee so that you can pair it with food that has complimentary flavors. Now that high-quality coffee features complex richness, like a fine wine, you should be able to find flavor profiles on your coffee’s packaging or on the coffee maker’s website.
You should also smell and taste the coffee yourself to see what flavors you can identify. Make sure to sniff, slurp, let the coffee spread across your tongue, and notice the coffee’s body, texture, and flavors.
While tasting and smelling your coffee, consider the roast and the body of the coffee. Different types of roasts can bring out different flavors. For example, light roasts may have fruity, spicy, acidic, and/or floral flavors. Medium roasts, on the other hand, may feature notes of flowers and/or chocolate. Finally, dark roasts may have woody, roasted, smoky and/or bittersweet notes.
The body of your coffee will also affect the food that you pair with it:
- Light body: Seafood, pastries, fruit, hard cheese
- Medium body: Poultry, fruity dessert, fish, salads
- Full body: Spicy food, dark chocolate, rich desserts, rich, smoked meats
Once you identify the flavors and body of your coffee, you should pair your cup of joe with food that features similar flavors.
Enticing Carta Coffee Food Pairing Ideas
Now that you understand the basics of pairing coffee with food, we’ll provide you with some inspiration to get you started. Here are some Kona coffee food pairing ideas for a handful of Carta Coffee expressions.Latitude Traditional Process paired with Grilled Fish with Citrus Pearl Sauce
Carta Coffee’s Latitude Traditional Process expression is clean and bright with distinct citrus notes, which will draw out the juicy, tart citrus flavor of the delicious grapefruit and orange juice sauce on this grilled fish. Check out the recipe on Food & Wine’s website here! Buy a bag of Latitude - Traditional Process here!
Captain’s Roast paired with Deep Dark Chocolate Cheesecake
With its smooth sweetness and rich, dark flavor, Carta Coffee’s Captain’s Roast pairs beautifully with a decadent dark chocolate cheesecake. Take a look at the cheescake recipe on Bon Appétit’s website here! Purchase our Captain’s Roast here!Latitude Natural Process paired with Apricot-Dijon Glazed Turkey with Herbed Pilaf
The natural processes used for this Latitude expression produce sweet, smooth, and nutty complex flavors. Sipping on this roast should enhance the sweet, velvety flavors of the apricot glaze and the almond notes in the pilaf. This pairing is perfect for holiday dinners!
Peaberry paired with Citrus and Caramel Mousse Parfait
Whether you’re enjoying this parfait and peaberry roast for breakfast or dessert, you will be in for quite the treat. The notes of citrus blossoms, roasted almonds, caramel, and honey in your cup of Peaberry will complement the parfait’s tart citrus fruits and silken caramel mousse, along with the nutty hazelnut notes in the elegant lace cookies.
We hope this Kona coffee pairing guide helps you begin or continue your journey into discovering the complex flavors of Kona coffee. Keep an eye out on our blog for a new post about cooking with coffee, with a little help from our friends over at Chef’s Roll. Mahalo!