Pairing wine and food is a staple of entertaining. For a twist, consider pairing menu items with coffee -- which, like wine, has complex flavor profiles.
Pairing wine and food is a staple of entertaining. For a twist, consider pairing menu items with coffee –– which, like wine, has complex flavor profiles.
“I’ve had people come in and ask for advice on pairing coffees with the courses of meal,” said Bryan Allen, manager of the Starbucks coffee shop in Springfield, Ill.
-- Much like wine, coffee growing, harvesting and processing practices influence the flavors they produce.
-- Our flavor perception is related to our sense of smell, so noting the initial aroma is critical in experiencing the full taste of both wine and coffee.
-- When tasting wine or coffee, pay attention to the acidity. Wine or coffee with high acidity can be described as crisp, tangy and bright, while those with low acidity tend to feel smooth.
-- The feel of the wine or coffee on your tongue is known as the body, which is said to be light, medium or full. Like wine, some coffees naturally have more body than others.
“Where the coffee is grown plays a major role in its flavor,” Allen said. “The notes and characteristics are largely determined by geography.”
Coffee is grown close to the earth’s equator in more than 50 countries. Go to www.allrecipes.com/howto/coffee-pairing/ for a great article on basic coffee characteristics and food pairing suggestions.
Here’s what it says about the three primary coffee-growing regions in the world:
-- Latin America: Coffees grown in Central and South America, including Colombia, Costa Rica, Panama, Mexico and Guatemala, are well-balanced with bright, tangy notes. With light to medium body and medium to high acidity, they fare well in iced coffee drinks. Pair with: breakfast breads, muffins, citrus fruits, blueberries, apples and nuts.
-- Africa/Arabia: Arabian coffees have characteristics of berries and wines, while African beans have a slight citrus flavor and floral elements. Both have medium to full body and medium acidity. Pair with: berries, citrus, fruits, raisins, currents, cinnamon, cardamom and chocolate.
-- Asia/Pacific: Coffees from Asia, Indonesia and the Pacific islands have robust, earthy characteristics. Some have flower-like or herbal notes. Expect full body and low acidity. Pair with: cinnamon, cheese, butter, caramel, maple, toffee and herbs.
A coffee tasting is called “cupping” or “slurping” by coffee professionals. First, deeply inhale the aroma. Then take a sip, letting the coffee spread to the back of your tongue. Try to assess the coffee’s body, sweetness, acidity, flavor and aftertaste.
“Notice where on the tongue the coffee is hitting,” Allen said, noting that areas of the tongue have different receptors that can detect bitterness, sweetness, etc.
When matching coffee with food, ask advice from a coffee shop barista or do research on the Internet, he advised.
“Don’t be afraid to try,” he said. “If you have a cheese or something else and you want to pair it with coffee, go ahead. If it’s not the right match, you’ll get a bitter taste when you go back to the coffee. If it doesn’t work, try something else.”
Kathryn Rem can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.