If somebody asked you to choose a single ingredient to pair your coffee with, one of the first things you’d think about would most likely be chocolate. Isn’t that right? When combined, coffee and chocolate turn into pure joy! It’s no surprise then that during a coffee break, a piece of chocolate may find its way into your hand without you even noticing, or that the combo of coffee and chocolate is a favourite amongst some of the world’s finest confectioners.
You’d be able to find loads of information on how to pair food with wine both in your local library and online. Expensive restaurants offering a separate service of finding the best wine to go along with your chosen meal are becoming quite commonplace now too. But do you know how to pair coffee with chocolate? Let’s go ahead and see!
Key Rules for the Perfect Pairing
Coffee and chocolate pair so well precisely because they have a lot in common. Both of them are actually seeds of fruit growing on tropical plants, and both of them are processed in a similar manner: that is, they’re picked, fermented, dried and then roasted. Just like coffee, chocolate can be marked by a variety of flavour combinations: while some varieties boast notes of fruit and berries, others are dominated by rich, bitter flavours. Different coffee and chocolate combos can guide you towards a whole new world of tastes that you haven’t had a chance to discover yet. So, how should you pair these delicacies? Well, there are a few rules that are worth following:
Similar flavours. The first rule states that it’s always a good idea to combine coffee with chocolate that’s marked by a similar level of intensity and a comparable flavour palette. Nutty coffees with notes of cocoa are hence generally paired with sharp-tasting dark chocolate, while fruity, berryish, floral varieties work best when paired with milk or white chocolates (these contain less cocoa and taste less intense as a result). You can choose chocolate with no additional ingredients, or go for one that’s been flavoured with fruit, berries or flowers too. Spicy coffees, on the other hand, go well with chocolate that’s particularly bitter, flavoured with chili or other spices.
There can only be one star here. This rule means that food products characterised by a particularly vivid flavour palette are best paired with subtler foods: the delicate taste of the latter then highlights the richness of the former. That’s why specialty coffees are often enjoyed alongside classic chocolates with no additional ingredients, while exotic chocolate varieties taste even better when combined with coffee blends that are not as vivid.
No rules. According to the third rule, no rule is set in stone here: in the end, it all depends on your personal taste and individual preferences. The final goal is, after all, for you to enjoy the pairing!
So much for theory: now let’s move on to real-life combinations of coffees and chocolates that are definitely worth trying!
Espresso and the Darkest of Chocolates
Brazilian coffee bean blends pair well with dark chocolate containing a higher percentage of cocoa. Dark chocolate with 99.6% of cocoa is guaranteed to work—and if you’re looking for some texture, give dark chocolate with cocoa nibs a try. Flavours like these go perfectly with espresso: the sharpness of dark chocolate highlights the notes of chocolate and nuts that Brazilian varieties are famous for.
Black Coffee and Chocolate That’s Not Quite as Dark
Rich, vivid specialty coffees work best when combined with dark chocolate marked by classic, bittersweet flavours. One of Coffee Friend’s favourite combos is the naturally spicy "Indonesia Sumatra" enjoyed alongside a piece of dark chocolate with 70% of cocoa. When it comes to the coffee recipes we’d recommend, your best bet here would be a serving of americano or coffee prepared with the help of filter brewing tools.
Milk-Based Coffees and Milk Chocolate
Owners of a sweet tooth are bound to love the pairing of milk-based coffees and milk chocolate. A vivid blend of arabica, or arabica and robusta, will work best when making a milk-based drink. Our personal favourite is the combination of coffee beans with notes of dark chocolate and caramel and milk chocolate flavoured with sweet, refreshing strawberries. No lover of sweets would be able to resist a combo like that!
For Fans of Exotic Flavours
Whether it’s coffee or chocolate, there are some truly unique varieties to discover—and pairing an unusual brew with an exotic sweet delicacy may end up blowing your mind completely! All it takes is some willingness to experiment. The boldest of you should try pairing the remarkably lively "Ethiopia Yirgacheffe" with some ruby chocolate with berries. If you’re a fan of citrusy acidity and pleasant hints of bitterness, give the specialty beans from El Salvador and dark mint chocolate a try. These extraordinary coffees are best brewed using the espresso or filter method. Go ahead and celebrate life by enjoying unique flavours!
Specialty coffee beans "El Salvador Santa Petrona", 1 kg
Dark chocolate with mint "Laurence", 80 g
As you can see, when it comes to coffee and chocolate, opposites usually do not attract. The more similar the brew and the accompanying sweet delicacy, the more likely the combo is to work. Next time, when you catch yourself craving “something sweet” during your coffee break, don’t hesitate to grab a piece of chocolate. Experiment with a variety of combinations and enjoy new, unexpected flavours you’re bound to discover along the way!