Caffe Society: Matching pizza and coffee

You are probably familiar with the concept of pairing wine with food items; for example, there is white wine with fish and red wine with everything else. Now, the coffee experts say that there is no reason we shouldn`t take the same approach with coffee.

A great pairing makes both the coffee and the food taste better. The unique nuances of the coffee can even enhance the flavors in savory dishes. Here are a few factors to consider when selecting the best coffee for a meal and a few tips on how to pair coffee with pizza.

Factors to consider when selecting a coffee

Coffee, much like wine, has complex flavor profiles. To successfully pair coffee with pizza requires some understanding of those profiles, including the meaning of aroma, acidity, body and flavor.

The aroma gives you the first hint of how a specific coffee will taste. Flavor perception is strongly related to the sense of smell, so you should note the initial aroma to experience the full taste of the coffee.

When it comes to coffee, acidity doesn`t mean bitter or sour. Instead, a coffee with a high acidity is considered tangy, lively or crisp, while a coffee with a lower acidity feels smooth in your mouth.

Body is defined as the thickness or weight of the coffee in your mouth. Body is typically described as light, medium or full. Flavor is the final melding of body, acidity and aroma that creates the overall lasting impression of a coffee.

Roast styles range from light to very dark. The roast affects all of the aspects of a coffee`s flavor and you should take the roast profile into account whenever pairing coffee with food items.

Lighter roasts are typically bright and crisp, often working well with lighter breakfast items. Darker roasts tend to pair better with richer, more indulgent foods like meats, chocolates, nuts and pizza.

Coffee by the region

Where a coffee is grown also affects how it tastes and what foods it best complements. Coffee roasters typically divide the coffee-producing areas into three main geographic regions.

Latin American coffees come to us from Central and South America. These coffees generally have a great balance, light to medium body and medium to high acidity. The bright, tangy notes make these coffees perfect for pairing with sweet and tangy foods.

African and Arabian coffees have a crisp acidity and a fruity, spicy flavor that makes them an exciting pairing for various foods. These coffees have a medium to full body and go well with fruits, chocolate and savory dishes that contain cinnamon or cardamom.

The earthy, full-bodied Asian and Pacific coffees are known for their low acidity, robust body and smoothness. These coffees tend to best complement salty or savory dishes, including pizza.

Pairing coffee with pizza

The type of coffee you should use depends on what type of toppings you choose for your pizza. A pie covered with grilled chicken, a mild sauce and subtle spices should match up well with a dark, bold coffee with high acidity, such as a rich Haitian blend.

If you are having a pizza with Indian or Thai spices, you want a coffee that enhances those spices. Look for an African coffee blend to give you an intense flavor profile.

More traditional pizzas featuring tomatoes, cheese and pepperoni or Canadian bacon require an earthier blend for pairing. A full, smoky Sumatran coffee should help bring out the flavors of your meal.

A pizza with Greek ingredients often goes well with a light Latin American coffee. If your pizza contains more pungent goat cheese, select a stronger Sumatra blend.

With today`s trend toward pairing coffee and pizzas, many pizza restaurant owners are purchasing specialty coffee shop equipment. Helping your customers successfully pair coffee and pizzas will give you the edge over other pizzerias, build your client base and bring in more money.