Coffee and chocolate are popular pairings found in many recipes. So how do you pair them together, and what drink recipes can you try at home? Let’s break it down.
Are Cacao Beans and Coffee Beans Related?
Coffee beans and cocoa beans have similar appearances before they are processed. They even have identical growing, drying, and roasting processes. But are they related?
The short answer is no; they are not directly related. Coffee beans and cocoa beans are entirely different species. Their plant seeds look vastly different from each other as well. The coffee beans are grown into bright red berries. On the other hand, cacao beans are found in pods and inside the white cacao fruit.
While chocolate and coffee are not directly related, they have similar origins. They both are seeds produced by tropical plants. Moreover, they are grown from the south of the equator in South America. This sunny, humid tropical climate is the perfect environment for them to grow. However, while both are grown in the same general area and climate, only the cacao beans are native. Coffee beans, instead, are originally from Africa.
Why Do Chocolate and Coffee Go Together?
Chocolate and coffee are known as two peas in a pod or a match made in heaven. But why do they go so well together? In general, the creaminess and sweetness of chocolate help balance out the bitterness and acidity of coffee. As a result, chocolate helps create a more well-rounded taste, whether in a drink or dessert.
Moreover, cacao beans and coffee beans have similar flavor profiles. The general belief is that chocolate and coffee have only one dimension of flavor. In reality, they both have way more complex flavors and aromas. These flavors can range from nutty to fruity. Some chocolate can even have summer fruity notes or even rich bitterness. In addition, chocolate varies depending on the specific origins of the beans. Therefore, you can pair specific coffee and chocolate together based on their aroma and origin. By doing this, you can create complementary or contrasting flavors.
How to Pair Coffee with Chocolate
There are various ways to pair coffee with chocolate. On the one hand, you can use chocolate as an ingredient or topping inside your coffee drink. Chocolate in coffee is most notable in the popular drink, caffé mocha. It can also be seen as a topping in frappes. On the other hand, you can keep the chocolate and coffee separate. That way, you can savor both by taking bites of chocolate while drinking your daily cup of coffee. Regardless of which option you choose, we’ll show you how to match your coffee with chocolate.
Chocolate and Coffee Pairing Guide
While there are ideal pairings of coffee to chocolate, there is no wrong answer. The best way to find out what works is to experiment yourself! Try out different types of coffees and chocolates to see how they taste together. Before you know it, you would have figured out your favorite flavor profile pairings. However, if you want a place to start, here is just a short guide to generally pair coffee and chocolate.
In chocolate and coffee pairings, it is most important to try and keep the balance of flavors. In doing so, the chocolate and coffee will complement instead of overpowering each other. Here are just a few pairing ideas according to the type of coffee you choose:
Nutty Aroma Coffees
The coffees with a nutty aroma typically have a Brazilian and Columbian origin. These types of coffee have a dense and creamy nut base aroma. The sweetness of chocolate can be balanced out by pairing it with this type of coffee. If you prefer a more contrasting taste, try pairing nutty coffees with fruity chocolates.
This type of coffee usually has a lighter and brighter taste with floral aroma notes. Due to it being lighter, it can easily be overpowered by darker chocolate. Instead, try pairing fruity coffee with lighter milk chocolates. Pairing it with chocolate on the sweeter side helps to compliment its light fruity notes. You can also try having it with milk chocolate that contains nuts or light chocolate pastry.
Coffee with Spice Notes
Spice based coffees are earthier tasting with a heavier mouthfeel. Compared to fruity coffees, earthy coffees are lower in acidity and have a bigger body. Try pairing this coffee with darker chocolates with slight bitterness. This slight bitterness helps to compliment the flavor profile of the coffee. If you would like to be adventurous, you can even try chocolate with salt on top. Pairing it with chocolate containing dried fruit can also create a contrasting taste.
Dark Roast Coffees
Dark roast coffees are a general category that includes a variety of different coffee beans. This type of coffee is categorized by the longer length of roasting time. Due to the darker roast, the different flavor profiles of coffee beans are muted. In general, dark roast coffees pair well with dark chocolates. However, some dark roasts have a sweeter taste while others have a more bitter taste. You can try mixing and matching different types of dark roasts with different levels of dark chocolate to find your favorite pairing!