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How to pair coffee with food

One of the best ways to make a perfect pairing is to use the coffee in the food too

Mars El Brogy
Friday 01 May 2015 16:04 BST

Food pairing is not just for wine connoisseurs, but for coffee lovers too. Knowing which coffee to complement which food will bring out the best aromas and flavours in each of them.

Starbucks Coffee Ambassador Liz Booker has the following suggestions for these classic foods.


Liz’s Welsh grandmother’s favourite thing to do with eggs was to turn them into eggy bread or ‘float’ as she would call it - slightly stale white bread thickly sliced, eggs whipped up with a little milk in a dish waiting for the bread to be soaked and then shallow fried in a little butter. The resulting treat would then be covered in a snow of fine caster sugar.

A wonderful breakfast or afternoon treat perfectly served with a wonderful aromatic blend of Latin American coffees artfully blended to create a subtle balanced, medium body coffee with flavours of cocoa and nuts. The key to this coffee is its easy going well-rounded flavours.


One of the many wonderful things about a trifle is the layers. Liz’s favourite is a pear, chocolate and praline trifle with soft chocolate sponge soaked in a cheeky splash of almond liquor and with layers of juicy pear. She likes to top with thick homemade custard and vanilla seeds, whipped cream and a glistening crown of golden pralines and coffee beans.

Liz suggests to serve trifle with a French press of Colombian coffee, which has rich distinctive layers due to the altitude it is grown. Arabica coffee prefers to grow between 1,000 and 2,200 metres - the higher it is grown, the longer the coffee cherries spend on the tree. So Colombian coffee that has grown high up in the mountains will result in layers that start as soft and herbal and move through to an almost floral honey sweetness that works so beautifully with the pear.

Espresso and hazelnut layer cake

One of the most wonderful ways to make a perfect pairing is to use the coffee you will be serving in the cake too. This is Liz’s twist on the wonderfully classic coffee and walnut cake…


Start by pouring your shots of espresso - but remember it is also fun to play around with coffee and nut combination to find your favourite.

Pour two shots of espresso to have a cheeky taste. It should be “caramely roasty and intense” with a thick cream. Once happy with the taste, pour the shots into a cold cup with a splash of double cream. This will stabilise the magic emulsion that is espresso. Set to one side to cool.

Now for the cake. Weigh out 6oz soft butter and 6oz of golden caster sugar (Liz keeps hers in a jar with a vanilla pod to add an extra fragment note). Cream until pale and fluffy.

Beat in three eggs. Add the eggs one at a time then sift in 6oz of self-raising flour and fold gently to keep all the air in. Then add your coffee a little at a time until your cake batter has a good dropping consistency.

Add in 2oz of toasted chopped hazelnuts, then split between two sandwich tins and bake for around 20 - 30 minutes.

Whilst your cake bakes create your icing. Take 6oz of soft butter, 6oz of golden icing sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla paste and a cooled shot of espresso mixed with a dash of cream. Beat until you have smooth icing adjust the amount of espresso in the icing to taste.

Once your cake has cooled, pop the icing into an icing bag with a star nozzle and pipe until your heart’s content. Top with a few more toasted hazelnuts and serve with a French press of the espresso roast.

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