Why do chocolate and coffee go together?

24 Mar 2020

Food + Drink

Just like scones and clotted cream or tea and biscuits, coffee and chocolate make a perfect pairing. But what is it about these two tropical beans that makes them work so well together?

At first glance, you could be forgiven for thinking that cacao beans and coffee beans were related. After roasting, they are both varying shades of golden brown, both oval shaped, and both need grinding before being consumed.

However, they are two very different species – coffee beans grow in bright red berries, whereas cacao beans grow in pods, hidden in the soft white flesh of a cacao fruit. Although both grow happily in South America, only cacao is native to that region, while coffee originates from Africa. Despite their differences, if you’ve ever enjoyed a cup of tea with a square – or two – of chocolate, you’ll know how well they complement each other. But why is that so?

Why chocolate and coffee go together

The flavour profiles of chocolate and coffee are often described in a similar way. Sometimes cocoa evokes the flavour of fruit – like the summer fruit notes in our Single Origin Tanzanian Chocolate – while others revel in their rich bitterness, like our Honduran 100% cocoa chocolate. Coffee is often described in the same way; floral, fruity, acidic, bitter, and rich, but how can you know which chocolate will go best with your coffee?

At Hotel Chocolat we roasted our own 100% arabica coffee so that it would be the perfect match for chocolate, by choosing and roasting the beans to give a smooth but rich flavour. However, if you’re trying to match with the coffee you already have at home, go for something with a similar level of intensity. If you have an extremely strong and bitter coffee, then it will drown out the subtle cocoa notes in a milk chocolate.

How to match your coffee with chocolate

Latte

The high milk content in a latte adds tempers the strength of the coffee, and will hold up to mellow 40% cocoa milk chocolate. Try our milk chocolate batons: the sweet creaminess matches perfectly with a well-made smooth latte.

Cappuccino

Similar to a latte, but the microfoam milk sits on top of the milk and espresso mixture, creating a stronger, but still mellow, coffee. Sprinkle a little cocoa on top if you’re feeling fancy. A slightly stronger milk chocolate will complement the cappuccino nicely, and if you want a touch of caramel flavour, try our Colombian 53% cocoa caramelised milk chocolate – the higher cocoa content is balanced by it’s subtle smooth profile.

Flat White

Brought to our shores by the coffee-loving Australians – or Kiwis, depending on who you ask – the flat white is foamed milk and espresso, and is much shorter than a cappuccino or a latte. This gives it a strong kick, with all the flavour of bitter coffee, but the addition of milk lightens it up. If you love flat whites, you’ll love our Honduran 65% cocoa supermilk chocolate; we designed it especially for those who love the creaminess of milk chocolate, but don’t want to sacrifice the strong, rich notes of cocoa. Have them together for the ultimate chocolate and coffee flavour combination.

Americano

An espresso topped up with boiling water, the americano was apparently created in the Second World War, when the American soldiers – who were used to the filter coffees they had at home – found the short European coffee too strong and too bitter. They topped it up with hot water, and the drink became popular across Europe and the US. Pair yours with our Tanzanian 80%; the two drinks perfectly complement each other, being rich but not too strong.

Espresso

The espresso drinkers are the coffee purists. They don’t want anything to dilute their short, classic drink, made by forcing pressurised water through ground coffee. We’ve got just the right chocolate that will hold up to the strong, powerful flavours of the espresso. Our Ecuadorian 100% cocoa packs a punch, but the smooth cocoa profile means it’s never too bitter.

Mix our chocolate with your favourite coffee, or choose our house coffee to find a drink especially designed to complement the rich notes of cocoa. However you like your coffee and chocolate, Hotel Chocolat has something for you.