By Allrecipes Staff
June 10, 2015

Solo no more, coffee can be more than just an a.m. survival tool. (But yes, you can still use it for that, too.)

Get to know basic coffee characteristics so you can begin pairing it with complementary foods and bring out the best flavors in each.

Photo by Meredith

Coffee by the Region

It used to be you had two choices when it came to coffee: decaf or regular. Now there's a world of possibilities--literally. Let's take a look at the major growing regions of the world and what kind of a flavor profile you can expect from each area's beans:

Latin America: Central and South America, including coffees from Colombia, Costa Rica, Panama, Mexico, and Guatemala. Latin American coffees are known for being well-balanced with bright, tangy notes. These coffees also fare well iced--bright and tangy translates to a very refreshing quality when cold.

Body: light to medium
Acidity: medium to high
Flavor Pairings: breakfast breads, muffins, citrus fruits, blueberries, apples, nuts

Try these recipes for pairing with Latin American coffees:

To Die For Blueberry Muffins | Photo by KGora

Africa/Arabia: Africa, Middle East, and Arabia. Arabian coffees have berry- and wine-like characteristics--some with spice and cocoa notes, while African beans tend to have a citrus flavor with floral elements.

Body: medium to full
Acidity: medium
Flavor Pairings: berries, citrus fruits, raisins, currants, cinnamon, cardamom, chocolate

Try these recipes for pairing with coffees from Africa and Arabia:

Best Ever Blueberry Cobbler | Photo by naples34102

Asia/Pacific: Asia and Indonesia, including coffees from the Pacific islands. Coffees from this region are enjoyed for their robust, earthy characteristics. Many have flower-like or herbal notes to them.

Body: Full
Acidity: low
Flavor Pairings: cinnamon, cheese, butter, caramel, maple, toffee, herbs

Try these recipes for pairing with coffees from Asia and the Pacific:

Caramel Shortbread Squares | Photo by footballgrl16

Coffee Descriptors

Body: refers to the weight of coffee on your tongue. Some coffees are very light and crisp, while others tend to linger. Body ranges from light to full. Note: while body usually correlates to strength, it is possible for a coffee to be strong in flavor, yet lighter in body.

Acidity: this sounds like a bad thing, right? But, it actually has nothing to do with being sour or bitter; acidity simply refers to the brightness or tang of a coffee and ranges from high to low.