What do you eat when you sit down for that late-morning or mid-afternoon cup of coffee? I bet you have some favorite snacks, but do you know why?
You might be surprised to learn that which foods are best for your coffee break depends on where your coffee comes from. We learn from experience that some foods taste better with coffee than others. Although we may not know why, we gravitate towards those foods that pair well with our coffee. And, we stay away from foods that don’t pair well. Because we tend to consistently choose coffee from the same region, our food choices revolve around a few favorites.
Just like wine is affected by grape, growing region, fermentation, and blending, coffee is affected by many different factors.
7 Factors that Affect Coffee Taste
Bean Variety. Each coffee cultivar has a distinct set of characteristics.
Terroir. The soil type, climate, elevation, and even the plants surrounding where the beans are grown affect bean flavor.
Farming Practices. Irrigation, pruning, fertilization, planting pattern, and how the beans are picked all affect the end product. When beans are picked by hand, only the ripe beans are selected. Machine picking does not distinguish between ripe and unripe beans.
Processing. There are 3 types of processing. Each brings out different coffee characteristics. The dry process, so called because it requires minimal water, produces a fruity and sweet flavor. The honey process, which does not involve honey at all but rather refers to the amount of coffee bean flesh that is retained, involves spreading the coffee pulp out and allowing it to dry over many days. This method produces a balanced and juicy flavor. Finally, the washed process involves soaking the coffee beans, or seeds, in water for 24 hours to break down the pulp. This method produces a bright and clean flavor.
Blending. Unless you choose a coffee labeled as single-origin, your coffee is always a blend of beans grown on different farms or even in different regions.
Roasting. Whether the coffee beans are given a light, medium, or dark roast makes a tremendous difference. A medium roast delivers a darker and sweeter taste than a light roast, while a dark roast has the boldest flavor and lowest acidity.
Brewing. Everything from the grind of the coffee to the brewing method, minerals in the water, and the ratio of coffee to water affect the final flavor.
Some Pairing Suggestions
Unless you’re a real aficionado or have a lot of time on your hands, you’re not going to know much about your coffee choice. But as a general guide, start with these three basic pairings based on the region where your coffee was grown.
Coffees from Africa have a slight fruitiness to them, so go for a fruit-filled Danish or a pecan-topped cinnamon roll, and some fresh berries. For a savory-sweet option, try some of our Bacon Maple roasted pecan halves.
Coffees from Latin America are nutty and chocolaty. Go ahead, indulge in a chocolate muffin or candy bar. Then, add a handful of savory roasted pecans flavored with butter and sea salt.
Coffees from Indonesia have a blend of both fruit and chocolate flavors, giving you the widest variety of food pairing choices. Put together your own trail mix with dried dates and cranberries, add some roasted pecan pieces such as Honey Chai Baby, and a liberal portion of dark chocolate chips.
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