What To Eat With Coffee: Discover Sweet and Savory Delights

Explore top foods to pair with your coffee. From savory bacon to sweet tiramisu, find out what to eat with coffee for the ultimate taste experience.

two donuts on a board in front of a cup of coffee

Last Updated on November 5, 2023

When you think about what to eat with coffee, a few obvious choices come up: a muffin, some pastries, maybe a slice of toast. Sure, those are pretty standard—but coffee can pair with so much more.

Key Takeaways

  • Sweet pairings like donuts and coffee cake are classics for a reason.
  • Savory options like bacon and smoked salmon offer a delightful contrast to coffee’s bitterness.
  • Unexpected pairs, such as grilled cheese sandwiches, can surprise and delight your palate.

Sweet foods loaded with carbs may be the first that come to mind, but we’re here to give you some other ideas. Yes, we’ve included some of those sweet standards that you know and love, but savory foods make up almost half our list.

And some of those savory pairings might surprise you.

Not every food mixes its taste and texture flawlessly with coffee, but here are 15 foods that make perfect companions, divided into sweet and savory.

15 Foods That Pair Well With Coffee

Sweet Coffee Pairings

Coffee cake

Sour cream coffee cake with glaze on top
Kimberly Vardeman | Creative Commons

It’s hard to get a more classic coffee pair than this sweet cake with coffee right in its name. Coffee cake comes in a variety of flavors and textures, but all of them are tailor-made to be enjoyed with a hot cup of coffee. My favorite is a fresh coffee cake made from a batter that’s moistened by sour cream and with a nice streak of cinnamon, brown sugar and walnuts running through the middle.


Overhead shot of donuts cooling on a wire rack

Yet another iconic food to pair with coffee is the donut. Donuts come in many shapes that can range from plain to decked out with all sorts of sprinkles, icings, and glazes. In all cases, the sweetness of a good donut can perfectly offset a cup of coffee, especially one made more on the milky side.

Dark chocolate

Chocolate plus coffee is nearly always a hit. Dark chocolate, in particular, is an outstanding pairing. The complexity and slight bitterness of dark chocolate can offer an ideal counterpoint to a sophisticated coffee.

Look for a good artisan chocolate to go with the caramel notes of a high quality dark roast coffee if you want a truly decadent pairing. But you don’t have to stop there. Traditional milk chocolate is pretty nice, and so is white chocolate.


Piece of tiramisu on a white plate

Maybe the greatest dessert pairing with coffee. It’s hard to go wrong when you pair coffee with foods that bring their own coffee flavors to the table, and the inclusion of coffee liqueur or espresso in tiramisu makes it a dessert that fits this bill. Enjoying it with a nice cup of coffee takes it to the next level. Tiramisu is only scratching the surface of desserts that go well with coffee, though.


Plate of blueberries and raspberries on a picnic table

Another food that might not immediately spring to mind as a coffee pairing is berries. But berries, whether eaten alone or as part of some other sweet dish, make a fabulous complement to coffee.

You can choose a different berry each time, or mix them up. Blueberries, strawberries and raspberries are fine choices.

As with most sweet foods paired with coffee, you’ll probably get the best results pairing berries with a sweeter coffee. Peru and Puerto Rico are two coffee-producing countries where you can usually find a nice, sweet match.

And should you tire of berries, there’s a lot of other fruit out there that goes great with coffee. We recommend plums, apricots and peaches in particular.

Peanut butter and banana sandwich

The peanut butter and banana sandwich is criminally underrated in general, and that goes double for its pairing with coffee. When you bite into the sweetness of the banana and the rich creaminess of the peanut butter, you’ll know you have a winner. Add in the flavor of a nice cup of coffee, and it’s off the charts.

Tapioca or rice pudding

Tapioca pudding in a glass

The sweet, milky flavor of tapioca or rice pudding goes incredibly well with a strong cup of coffee. The vanilla and cinnamon in rice pudding in particular blends perfectly with the bold, smoky flavor of a darker roast.


Crepe folded over on a white plate with Nutella drizzled on top

The crêpe is a dish that coffee sets off beautifully. Some crêpes are sweet; others can be made with savory ingredients like meats, cheeses or vegetables. All of them shine when paired with the right type of coffee.

Savory Coffee Pairings


Bacon sizzling in a cast iron frying pan by a campfire

Not all coffee pairings need to be sweet. Savory can work just as well or better. Bacon is one of the most popular breakfast foods around, and one of the main reasons is that it goes extremely well with coffee. The salty, savory, fatty flavor of bacon can perfectly complement a strong cup of joe.


Bagels can be eaten plain, toasted, loaded up with cream cheese or other toppings. And they’re a wonderful food to enjoy with a cup of coffee. If you’re not eating your bagel sweet, a mellower, sweeter coffee may be the best pick to pair with the bagel.

If you’ve been doing bagels for a while and want to change things up, try a plain butter croissant on your next trip to the bakery.

Scrambled eggs

Scrambled eggs are yet another breakfast food that works perfectly with coffee. You can make scrambled eggs straight up with a bit of salt and pepper, or load them up with vegetables and other goodies. But a bare-bones scramble with a nice, strong cup of coffee is all you need.

Grilled cheese

Grilled cheese sandwich cut into triangles on a white plate

Many of the previous bites are well known for their successful partnerships with coffee, but the grilled cheese sandwich flies under the radar. Turns out your favorite after-school snack is also one of the best choices for pairing with coffee. Crispy, toasted bread sandwiching gooey, melted cheese goes wonderfully with a strong cup of coffee. If you have a little fat left over from frying your breakfast bacon, try grilling your sandwich in it for lunch.

Smoked salmon

Bagel topped with cream cheese, smoked salmon and capers

Bold flavors are often the way to go with coffee food pairings. Smoked salmon checks that box. The salty, fishy flavor can hold its own paired with a bold coffee. For an even better food experience, put smoked salmon on a toasted bagel and eat with your morning coffee.

Hard cheeses

Three cubes of hard white cheese

Cheese and coffee may seem like a strange pairing on the surface. But the key to unlocking the cheese/coffee combination is staying away from softer cheeses with delicate flavors. Those types of cheeses can get overwhelmed by strong coffee, but cheddar cheese and Swiss cheese can easily hold their own.

Cottage cheese

If you’re not looking to eat a huge amount for breakfast, consider pairing your coffee with a bowl of cottage cheese. Not only is the meal relatively low in calories, but the creamy cottage cheese complements the flavor of a more mellow coffee quite nicely.

What to Serve With Coffee—and When

Belgian WafflesFruit tartsBrownies
BerriesGrilled cheeseChocolate
Cottage CheeseHard cheesesCoffee cake
CrêpesPeanut butter and banana sandwichCrème brûlée
French toastRoasted nutsPumpkin pie
PastriesSavory sconesTiramisu
Scrambled eggsSmoked salmonTapioca or rice pudding

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How Do I Choose The Right Coffee for Each Food Pairing?

The first rule of pairing coffee with foods is simple: Follow your palate. If a combination tastes good to you, that’s all that matters. But there are a few guidelines to keep in mind when trying to come up with your own coffee and food pairings.

One thing to consider is that the strength of your coffee should work well with the food’s flavor intensity. A delicate, refined-flavored food can easily be drowned out by a more robust coffee. The lighter and sweeter your coffee is, the more it can interplay with subtler flavors.

Do Specific Roasts Pair Better With Certain Foods?

Dark roasts are typically bolder, more robust coffees with plenty of chocolate and caramel notes. They are comfort roasts, so they’re going to go well with comfort foods. They’ll pair wonderfully with the sweeter, dessert type foods on this list such as coffee cake and tiramisu.

Light and medium roasts have much more nuanced flavors and make a lot of sense with foods that have subtle flavors. Berries, scrambled eggs and milder cheeses come to mind.

How Do Flavors From Different Countries Impact Food Pairings?

Many coffee connoisseurs these days experiment with distinctive coffee beans from different regions of the world, and often those beans deliver significantly varied taste profiles.

These flavor profiles can interplay with foods in ways you can anticipate and work with. So, for example, an El Salvadoran coffee with citrus notes could play nicely with a rich dark chocolate brownie.

Coffees from Southeast Asia tend to be earthy and spicy. How about putting them up against a pumpkin pie?

We have a list of countries in The Coffee Belt and the flavors that tend to shine through in their coffees. Think about what might work with those flavors and give it a try!

Anything Goes, So Experiment

You could spend a lifetime sampling different food and coffee pairings and still not scratch the surface of everything possible. And coffee comes in such a wide variety of flavors that you can probably find the perfect coffee for nearly any accompanying dish.

This list should get you started in exploring food and coffee together. But this is just the beginning. Get out there and explore some other foods with coffee, and you may find a new favorite.

When morning paints the sky with blush of light,
A mug of warmth, a plate that beckons sweet,
A union of two worlds in sheer delight,
The sips and bites in harmony compete.
The coffee cake, with cinnamon's soft kiss,
And donuts glazed, a sugared round of joy,
Each pastry's whisper tells of fleeting bliss,
A tender dance no bitterness can cloy.
But lo, the afternoon doth bring a turn,
Where savory with coffee finds its place,
Grilled cheese and bacon, smoked salmon earn,
Their rightful spot with java's bold embrace.
In every pairing, be it dark or light,
The coffee finds its muse in every bite.

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