Many people in Hong Kong rely on an espresso from an artisan coffee shop if they need a caffeine fix for the day, whereas some of you might (like myself, especially as a nutritionist) prefer enjoying a cup of latte at home/at the office. Whether you prefer it as thick as tar, or as light and frothy as a cloud, there’s a good chance you started your day off with a cup of coffee/tea. Adopting a health lifestyle involves making healthy food choices which also includes paying attention not only to what we eat but also drink. I always make time to pair my coffee with something nutritious, as coffee can compliment so many different foods. Breakfast is said to be the most important meal of the day, and while proof of this is subjective, eating breakfast plays a vital role in restoring the sugar in the blood after a long night of fasting and surely sets the tone for a great day. Whether it’s your morning cup of coffee or the dessert to your delicious dinner, coffee just isn’t complete without delicious foods to pair it with.
Different types coffee have complementary flavors that are enhanced by certain foods, similar to wine pairing. In fact, coffee and tea can be evaluated just like wine because they all have aromas, body, acidity, mouth feel, and flavors that can either complement many kinds of foods.
Let’s take a stab at some great ways to pair your coffee with foods consumed throughout the day to enhance your coffee experience!
When to be bold (in the morning)
The more savory your breakfast, the more bold you can go with your coffee. Omelets, quiches, and your traditional eggs and bacon pair well with dark heavier bodied coffee – a shot – or two of espresso. For simple, grainy breakfasts, such as toast or cereal, mild Americano pairs well with simple breakfasts. One cup of regular coffee offers good amount of B vitamins that are essential for energy metabolism and thus gives you a quick boost of energy in the morning.
When you fancy something fruity (mid afternoon)
What would Italians do without coffee and biscotti? What would Hong Kongers do without their egg tarts, pineapple buns and coffee? These coffee pairings are ingrained in the daily lives of many. A wonderful afternoon treat (like fruit yogurt, baked goods, or even a piece of fruit) served perfectly with a coffee with higher fruit notes. Or instead of just sipping your tea on it’s own, why not try it with a food that has a hint of dark berries such as a date square. Not to mention, caffeine blocks that sleep-promoting adenosine which reduces fatigue and sleepiness and thus improves alertness, learning, and memory during your mid-day crash.
When you need to lighten up (evening)
How about a cup of coffee after a wholesome dinner, you will want to look for coffee that are less complex with a smooth finish such as a cup of smooth espresso as a non-alcoholic nightcap. You don’t want your coffee to overpower your food with more intense flavors. Alternatively, why not end the night with a cup of Cuppaz earl grey tea if you prefer tea over coffee in the evening.
What about desserts? (all day long!)
We all know Hong Kongers love their desserts; chocolate and coffee is a long-standing favorite amongst food-and-drink pairings. Espresso drinks like flat white, Americano, etc. make perfect sense with chocolate. For rich and sweeter desserts like chocolate lava cake and brownies, try enjoying it with darker and bolder coffee. Worried about gaining weight? Compounds in coffee such as chlorogenic acid and quinides may potentially help in weight loss but over consumption (just like all foods in general) has been linked to weight gain.
Everyone’s taste buds are different so try to find your own perfect pairing by exploring the different types of capsules by Cuppaz (www.cuppaz.com) with your favorite foods.
Written by Michelle Lau, certified nutritionist (MSc.) and nutrition educator
If you enjoyed reading this, we’d appreciate it if you could share it with others.