Coffee and chocolate are both amazing on their own, but combine them and you can get a variety of unique flavors. This is how you can pair them together.
While coffee and chocolate are known as great pairs in drinks and desserts, what makes each of them unique and why do they work so well together? Let’s break down what cacao and coffee really are.
Cacao vs. Coffee
Cacao are pods and beans found from an evergreen tree called Theobroma cacao. The cacao beans are found in the fruit this tree grows, which come in a variety of sizes and colors such as red, yellow, and purple. In fact, each of these fruits or pods usually contain around 20 to 60 cacao beans.
Coffee beans can be divided into two main categories: Arabica and Robusta. These beans are seeds of the Coffea plant. They are found inside the plant's fruit or cherry, that is usually red or purple. Unlike cacao, each cherry fruit of a coffee plant only produces two beans each.
Similarities between coffee and cacao
While cacao and coffee each have their own distinct qualities that separates them, they also have some similarities you might not have known about.
For example, both coffee beans and cacao beans are roasted in order to draw out the flavors. They also are both made up of different varieties that have their own unique characteristics in both appearance and taste. Moreover, while coffee and cacao originate from different plants, they both are stimulants, containing caffeine and antioxidants.
What should you consider when pairing coffee and chocolate together?
Now that we know just how amazing cacao and coffee are, what are some things you should keep in mind when combining the two flavors? There are three main points to think about when creating your flavor combinations: flavor, acidity, and complexity.
1. The flavor of coffee and cacao
One thing you should look out for is flavor. What type of flavor are you going for? Is it sweetness, saltiness, sourness, or bitterness? While some of these flavors are more obvious, it can also be more subtle.
Keep in mind the unique flavor of the coffee and chocolate you are mixing together as it can affect the end taste.
2. The acidity of coffee and cacao
Acidity is another important factor you should keep in mind when pairing coffee and chocolate together. Most of the time, this factor is based on the coffee you are using. Make sure to keep in mind the freshness and quality of the coffee you choose.
3. The complexity of coffee and cacao
For both coffee and chocolate, their flavors can have deep layers and be more complex than you originally thought. Keep in mind the various flavors you can get from the ingredient you are using as pairing contrasting flavors can help balance the overall taste.
For instance, you can balance out bitterness with sweetness or saltiness. You can also balance out sourness with spice and sweetness.
4. The tasting method: how to compare coffee and cacao
As there are a variety of brands and types of chocolate and coffee, knowing how to taste them is the first step in creating the best flavor combinations. With so many aromas to discover, it is important to practice the best way to enjoy the unique flavors of each.
Let’s see how you can learn to taste coffee and chocolate the best way!
How to taste chocolate
Try a few different types at once
It can be easier to recognize the subtle flavors in a chocolate when you can compare them to one another. Just trying two different types can help but a good number would be between four and six types. Try just one little piece from each type so you won't overdose on chocolate...
Take a look at it before you taste it
Once you unwrap your chocolate, take a look at it before your first bite. If it has some white patches, then it means that the chocolate has bloomed. While you can still eat it, it might be greasy or gritty. In this case, it might be better to use it for baking or melting.
What does the color look like?
Because there are many varieties of cacao beans, the color of chocolate can vary depending on the variety and origin. The chocolate can be dark, have a reddish cast, or be an amber shade.
What aroma do you get when you smell it?
Before tasting, break a piece off of the chocolate and take a sniff. What aroma do you smell? The strongest smell should be the most apparent and can help you identify the chocolate’s flavors once you start tasting it.
Now, put a piece of the chocolate in your mouth and let it melt for a few seconds on your tongue. Then chew a few times and let it melt some more. As the chocolate melts, think about what flavors you taste. Is it fruity, spicy, or maybe savory? Keep in mind, there is no right or wrong way to taste chocolate!
How to taste coffee
Start by taking a look at the coffee in your cup. What color is it and what is its consistency?
Take a whiff of your coffee. Similarly to chocolate, the strongest aroma can help you identify the coffee’s flavors once you start tasting it. Not to mention, it can also help you determine the freshness and quality of the coffee.
Finally, slurp your coffee. By slurping it, you are allowing aeration of the coffee flowing across your entire palate. This aeration lets the aroma of the coffee pass through your nose. By doing this, it allows your tastebuds and nose to work together to detect the different flavors.
Coffee and chocolate pairing ideas
Excited to bring coffee and chocolate into your daily routine but unsure how? Here are some great pairing ideas you can easily try at home.
Cappuccino + white chocolate
A cappuccino is made up of equal parts of espresso, steamed milk, and milk froth. As it contains equal parts of each, the coffee features a stronger espresso flavor. Try pairing this bold taste with white chocolate. If you enjoy fruity tones, you can even pair it with white chocolate and strawberries.
Latte + milk chocolate
A latte is similar to a cappuccino, but has a milkier taste. It is made up of ⅓ espresso, ⅔ steamed milk, and a small layer of foam. Due to having more milk, it is a lighter coffee drink. Try pairing your latte with milk chocolate with toffee and sea salt. The sweet, salty, and milky combination would definitely be a winner.
Instant coffee + sweet milk chocolate
Using instant coffee is a quick way to get your coffee fix. Try pairing Waka Coffee’s Medium Columbian Instant coffee with a sweet milk chocolate. The sweetness of the chocolate will balance out the acidity of the Arabica beans. However, if you prefer a lighter roast. You can pair Waka Coffee’s Light Roast Indian Instant coffee with milk chocolate and almonds. This will create a sweet and nuttier flavor combination.
Espresso + dark chocolate
An espresso is a dark, rich, and strong coffee that can go well with a dark chocolate. Try pairing this rich coffee with a dark chocolate with deep spice flavors such as cinnamon and nutmeg.
Now that you know the best ways to pair chocolate and coffee, which recipe are you going to try first?