Coffee, just like wine, has a range of tastes, textures, and acidity levels — many of which find direct comparisons to our favorite grape-based drink. Today we’ll help you use your wine palate to guide you to your perfect cup of coffee. To start, it is important to understand the regional attributes of coffee. Just as wines from Burgundy have strong similarities, coffees from the same growing region share common taste, textural, and acidity characteristics. The most basic regional breakdowns are:
Africa: Bright, winey, and smooth with lovely acidity and a good mouthfeel.
Asia: Earthy with a rich mouthfeel, low acidity, and hints of chocolate and spice.
Central America: Balanced and clean with good acidity and hints of chocolate, fruit, and nuts.
South America: Sweet and aromatic with good body, moderate acidity, and soft floral and citrus notes.
To learn more about coffee’s regional characteristics, click here. Now… onto the wine!
Finding your coffee match. If you like…
Reisling your coffee match is a bright, fruity, medium roasted East African coffee. The African’s sweet, citric tones and high acidity make these coffees most appealing to those who enjoy a good Reisling.
Pinot Grigio or Pinot Gris your coffee match is a bright, crisp, medium roasted Guatemalan or Salvadoran coffee. The gentle fruit and citrus notes, good acidity, good mouthfeel, and sweet close make these coffees most appealing to those who enjoy Pinot Grigio and Pinot Gris.
Sauvignon Blanc or wide-bodied Chardonnay your coffee match is a medium roasted Panamanian or Mexican. Crisp, clean, and bright with good body, medium-high acidity, and balanced fruit and berry notes, these lovely coffees will appeal to those who enjoy Sauvignon Blanc or a rich Chardonnay.
Pinot Noir or Beaujolais your coffee match is a medium roasted Kenya or Burundi. These coffees are crisp with good body, high acidity, and complex berry and citrus flavor tones that appeal to those who enjoy Pinot Noir or Beaujolais.
Zinfandel your coffee match is a Sulawesi or Papua New Guinea coffee. Full-bodied with moderate acidity and an array of sweet notes that close just a touch of spice or oak, these coffees are an excellent choice for those who love Zinfandel.
Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot your coffee match is a dark roasted Central American (especially a Peruvian) or Yemeni coffee. Full-bodied and peppered with a touch of spice and smoked wood, these richly flavored, complex brews appeal to those who enjoy a deep, full red wine. Those who prefer their wine on the smokier, heavier side may also enjoy a balanced, dark roasted Sumatran.
We hope this helps you find your perfect coffee match!
Bonus section: coffee and wine similarities
Cultivar: Just as grape variety impacts a wine’s color, texture, and taste, a coffee cherry’s cultivar defines the bean’s characteristics. There are well over 100 coffee species and varietals — each creates a unique body, flavor, and mouthfeel. To learn more about the most common varietals, click here.
Terrior: Coffee cherries, like grapes, are highly responsive to their growing environment. The finest coffee grows at high altitudes, under shade trees, in temperate microclimates. As the cherry grows, it absorbs nutrient and flavor notes from the soil, minerals, and surrounding vegetation. Coffee trees that grow near cocoa trees, for example, tend to have chocolate notes while those grown near pepper plants tend to have a touch of spice.
Processing: Similar to wine processing, the processing method used to clean, prepare, and ferment beans impacts a coffee’s taste. Wet-processed coffee highlights the beans’ inherent flavor notes while honey-processed beans infuse the coffee with a honey-like sweetness. To learn more about coffee processing methods, click here.