The Perfect Match: Pairing Coffee with More Than Just Cakes
Coffee is definitely one of the world’s favourite beverage and it’s gained a reputation for being the source of life to get one ready for the day. We enjoy our coffee throughout the day, with some people drinking it like their life depended on it. Some like it straight up black, some with milk or cream, some with sugar and others like to fancy it up a bit, a-la-Starbucks frappe-style. But whatever your preference, not much thought is gone into the types of food that go well with your cuppa. Sure, breakfast, cakes and pastries are probably the biggest default choices, but what about savoury meats or cheeses? We drop by one of vendors, Gobi Desserts, to try our luck trying to pair three types of common coffee drinks. We also suggest a couple of novel ways to enjoy your Joe the next time you decide to grab a coffee break.
Just off the Katong area, Gobi Desserts is situated along endless rows of pet stores, cafés and automotive shops. Its bright white interior is cosy and welcoming, with its fruit enzyme machines standing proudly at the café’s window front. For our tasting, we chose a classic Americano, an Iced Mocha and a Cappuccino. To go with it, we were recommended one of the café’s crowd favourite cake, Flaming Raspberry. We knew we had to go for one of their soufflés because not many places serve good ones, so we went for their Bailey’s Soufflé, in addition to a savoury main of Philly Cheese Steak.
1 | Flaming Raspberry cake
The cake’s sponge layers were soft and light, but we weren’t a fan of the overwhelming amount of cream it had. Sadly, it only held a single layer of raspberry jam, and even then it was overly sweet. We already had a huge hunch which coffee would suit this the best.
With Americano – Although this wasn’t the boldest Americano we’ve tasted, it was potent enough to give body to the creamy, milky cake, helping it reduce its buttery mouthfeel. If you love cream, you’ll love this cake, but we like our desserts balanced (as much as we do have a sweet tooth), so we must say the Americano was a welcome bitterness.
With Iced Mocha – We expected this drink to accentuate the cake’s sweetness, and we were spot on. Sugar fans will love this combination, but we found it underwhelming as it had to contrasting flavours, with the raspberry layer being completely washed out.
With Cappuccino – Milk and cream clearly is a recipe for lactose overdose, and it brings about a very silky, slippery feel on the palate which isn’t the best feeling, to be perfectly honest. Everything slides around in your mouth and you’re unable to distinguish where the dairy starts and where it ends.
2 | Bailey’s Soufflé
We absolutely love a good soufflé, so we naturally had high hopes for this. We initially thought the Bailey’s would be infused in the soufflé, but it turns out that it comes as a pour-over sauce on the side. No matter, we were happy to see a fluffy and puffy soufflé arrive, which is already a promising sign – at least texture-wise. We drizzled the Bailey’s all over the soufflé and were really excited to note that it’s one of the best soufflés we’ve had, with its perfect airiness, melt-in-your-mouth texture and a sauce that’s not overpowering.
With Americano – We feel that the Americano is too strong for such a delicate dessert like a soufflé and it ended up tasting bitter, which isn’t something you want any dessert to taste like.
With Iced Mocha – The mocha in the coffee really complements the Bailey’s exquisitely (no surprises there!). It fuses together to give off a very rich chocolate vibe, and the finish is a smooth, decadent feel that doesn’t overwhelm your taste buds.
With Cappuccino – The milk content in the cappuccino drags down the lightness of the soufflé, voiding you of truly being able to enjoy the crux of the dessert that is its texture.
3 | Philly Cheese Steak
Just like the soufflé, we really hoped that their Philly Cheese Steak would impress us. Unfortunately, it didn’t. Although it was peppered with caramelised onions, that was about the only seasoning we could detect, resulting in a rather bland steak, overall. As for the cheese, it was your typical nacho cheese, which didn’t do anything to enhance the beef and made for quite an odd aftertaste. The only thing we liked about it was that the steak was tender and really juicy.
With Americano – Due to the dish’s lack of seasoning, the Americano totally washed out any flavours and drowned all the meatiness in its bitter notes. If anything, the beef enhanced the coffee, and not the other way around.
With Iced Mocha – Our first bite combined with a sip of the Iced Mocha instantly reminded us of how it’d be to drink a chocolate milkshake with a hamburger. Under normal circumstances, that would be the dream team, but in this case, it was not a pairing that worked well because it tasted like someone who threw together a single dish with all those flavours combined! It definitely was the least palatable combination of the afternoon in our honest opinion.
With Cappuccino – We managed to find the least offensive complement with the cappuccino, as the beef wasn’t drowned out too much. In fact, we still managed to taste a little bit of the caramelised onions through the dairy content in the drink.
After putting ourselves through the tasting, we were definitely left buzzed on caffeine and sugar. We also learned a little bit about how the presence of dairy in the coffee can truly alter how you perceive a food’s flavour (if the coffee isn’t just black). Of course, coffee isn’t as simple as black or white, with the roast, body and acidity all playing a vital role in how the final drink turns out. As a quick cheat sheet though, we’ve provided a few tricks and tips on how to pair your next cup of coffee with food:
By roast (highlights different flavours in coffee)
- Light: Choose fruity, slightly acidic and floral foods
- Medium: Chocolates, nuts and muted fruits would go best
- Dark: Roasted, woody or bittersweet flavours will be able to stand up against a potent blend
- Light: Fruits, hard cheeses and light pastries would complement this best
- Medium: Poultry and fruit pies would be ideal, but almost most foods would go well
- Full: Spicy food, creamy food and decadent and rich desserts will stand out
Wani’s writing has always spoken on her behalf far more than the spoken word. Her emotional relationship with food is almost as intense as her crazy love for HIIT workouts. Having written all things lifestyle, Wani now embarks on her freelance journey, journalling her epicurean trails and sweaty gym sessions with relentless fervor.