BLOG // // 30.3.2020

Flavor pairing - Coffee and Bread

Bread with your morning coffee, so evident, yet – have you really tried flavor pairing it them? Being mindful about the bread as well as the coffee to create a perfect flavor pair? What is the texture, predominant flavors, temperature of the bread and time of the day? All of this is important in order to have a harmonious flavor pair. We’ll dig to main practices and tips for your own successful bread and coffee flavor pairing.

Bread is a living organism, an acidic medium and acid is the most important accent that recurs in coffee too. If coffee is acidic, it will strengthen the acid in the bread and vice versa, slightly sour, coarse rye bread can accentuate citrus or stone fruit notes in coffee. The most known angle to pairing is: look for mirroring flavors or contrasting ones. The mirroring method acts on the principle of flavor continuity, to further highlight a key flavor or taste of a food (think sourdough bread and fruity, lightly roasted coffee). And contrasting works so as to balance out flavors, for example, a simple grissini is the perfect match to full-bodied coffee or espresso. So, this could be one way to start experimenting with pairing any kind of food with coffee or other drinks (think chocolate and beer pairing).

bread and coffee pairing

A guick guideline: firstly, taste both bread and coffee separately and identify key flavors. Secondly, evaluate the body of the coffee and texture of the bread. Lastly, consider the roast level with all of its subtleties and flavor nuances. And….. let the journey begin!

Consider the body of the coffee and texture of the bread

Another principle that can be followed when combining bread and coffee is to evaluate and take into account the texture of the bread. Bread can be soft, airy crispy, crumbly. For crumbly, coarse bread, a lighter roast is recommended. And if the bread is a little rubbery, with lots of seeds, it needs to be chewed vigorously, or it has a hard, heavily roasted crust, it needs a supportive friend - a stronger, medium roast coffee. Also, if we put creamy mascarpone, ripe avocado on the bread, we have way more flavor nuances and textures, right? The creaminess require stronger partner, darker roast. Conversely, if rye/wheat bread is slightly acidic, fresh, sweet butter is laid on bread, then look for light-bodied, light roast coffee having peach or fig notes. It could also be turned upside down – firstly thinking about the body of the coffee: is it thin like tea, or even syrupy, buttery and full-bodied, maybe medium? Trying to match light-bodied coffee with dense chocolate brownie probably wouldn’t be the best try, BUT trying and tasting is IMPORTANT. So next time you have your morning savory pastry, try to mindfully pair it with thicker, rich, medium-bodied coffee and see if you like it.

avocado toast and coffee
Next time you order a avocado toast in a café, consider also what kind of coffee would pair well with it.

Roast level

According to my experience, 1-2 roast level that have citrus, apple notes perfectly matches with acidic, coarse rye bread. Whereas if you have wheat bread or brioche, with caramel crust, then we need a medium to dark roast, medium to full-bodied coffee to balance both. Yet if we have toast, then bread comes with intense caramel, brown sugar, even cocoa notes, in which case a better combination will be light roast, lighter bodied coffee. This example demonstrates that there are no universal rules for paring, as with any combination or taste, its whether you like it or not.

If you want to know more about coffee roasting, check out Sampo's blog.

Coffee beans with different roasting level

Let's get tasting

So how do we make that pairing? Firstly, take a loud, beautiful sip of the coffee – the more air with a sip, the better you’ll evaluate different flavors, body and temperature of the coffee. After that, take a piece of bread, chew it and let it become soft, chewy and then – the big moment – take a sip of coffee and let the magic happen (or not ?). That’s here when the matching happens, then the two unite and become three or simply better, more tasty. Just remember to be attentive to both coffee and bread, meditate over it, enjoy, have fun with tasting and exploring the delicious world of flavors.

coffee and bread pairing event in Vilnius Coffee Festival
Coffee and bread pairing event in Vilnius Coffee Festival.

So isn’t it fun and worthy of your uninterrupted time, to sit down with your cup of joy, oh I mean coffee, and your favorite bread by the side? I believe it is, because life is full of flavors, surprising matches and many delights. During Vilnius Coffee Festival people mostly loved fresh brioche with craqueline topped with blueberry and cinnamon jam that was matched with full-bodied, dark roast coffee with hints of nuts (Kipinä). Also, a rye sourdough bread with sweet mascarpone mousse and freshly ground Tellicherry black pepper dwelled so nicely with light and delicate coffee with tones of peach and caramel (Kajo). Or classic Lithuanian dessert – rye bread and honey was lifted to new heights with coarse, seed bread with honey, strawberry dust that was paired with fruity and nuanced coffee (Paulig New York).