Coffee and cacao (the main ingredient of chocolate) are linked in so many ways. Both plants grow in tropical climates in many of the same areas of the world; both seeds go through similar processing methods, and both end products offer an almost-identical spectrum of potential flavours (from light and fruity to deep and roasty). And of course, they’re both contenders for the world’s favourite treats.
Given there’s so much crossover, it’s no wonder that pairing coffee and chocolate can lead to great results. The right pairing can truly elevate the flavour and texture of each delicacy, resulting in a whole experience that is greater than the sum of its parts. We highly recommend gathering a selection of 8-10 bars, brewing around four different origins of coffee, and embarking on a taste adventure!
Here are a few tips to help you find great pairings…
Take your time
If you want to get the greatest possible pleasure from your tasting, do it slowly and methodically. Be sure to study the appearance of your coffee and chocolate first, then have a good smell before putting anything in your mouth. We recommend starting with a sip of coffee – roll it around your tastebuds and then have a smell of the chocolate. Next, place a piece of chocolate on your tongue and slowly move it around your mouth, experiencing the flavour journey as it melts. How do the flavours interact with the coffee’s aftertaste? Be sure to keep notes so you can remember your favourite pairings.
Think of it like cooking
When you’re wondering what to pair together, think about it in the same way you would think about cooking a meal. For example, if coconut and citrus work well together in cooking, then a citrussy coffee will probably go well with a coconut chocolate. However, when you’re starting out, you might want to match coffee and chocolate with the same tasting notes (i.e. both have notes of cherry and plum), as these will usually taste good together. We recommend starting with black coffee and dark chocolate, before moving on to milk varieties.
Source similar quality products
If you pair cheap coffee with high quality chocolate – or vice versa – you won’t get the most out of the experience. Be sure to source the best specialty coffee and craft chocolate from knowledgeable, experienced and ethical producers and retailers.
There’s no ‘wrong’ pairing
Pairing is all about having fun! There’s no such thing as getting it ‘wrong’ – just try lots of things and record your discoveries. Over time you’ll find the pairings you enjoy the most, and you’ll learn more about how to predict great matches in advance. Enjoy the journey, and pair like nobody’s watching!
Coffee and chocolate pair reasonably easily, so there are many combinations you can try. Here are a few suggestions to get you started…
Light and fruity Ethiopian coffee with a fruity single origin dark chocolate
Suggested bar: Dick Taylor – Belize, Toledo 72%
Sweet and chocolatey Central American coffee with gianduja
Suggested bar: Chocolate Tree – Hazelnut Gianduja
Dark roast Brazilian coffee with dark-milk chocolate
Suggested bar: Krak Chocolade – Columbia, Sierra Nevada 55%
Cortado with salted milk chocolate
Suggested bar: Fruition Chocolate – Spring Salted Dark Milk
We hope you find this guide useful. Be sure to get in touch if you ever have any questions!