While liking wine isn’t necessarily synonymous with liking coffee (though we’d consider them both strong grounds for personality traits), most wine drinkers also tend to dabble in the art of java. Perhaps you solely rely on the buzz of a morning pick-me-up to get you through the day, but it’s more likely your taste buds are hard at work analyzing flavor profiles, just as you do with wine.
Where Wine and Coffee Meet
The worlds of coffee and wine are actually quite intertwined. The growing, harvesting, processing and tasting processes are shockingly similar. You may even notice an overlap in terms such as terroir, body, and acidity. In fact, experts evaluate both coffee and wine by these characteristics.
Taste (also called flavor notes) can range from fruity to earthy to smoky. Body refers to how the beverage feels in your mouth. Think about how black coffee feels different than a creamy cappuccino. In the wine world, we classify our beverages as light, medium, or heavy-bodied. Coffee and wine also share a commonality in acidity. Wines can be described as “zippy” while coffee can be rich, crisp, or slightly tart and sweet.
At the end of the day, If you like a particular flavor or element in coffee (or a fun coffee drink), chances are you’ll enjoy that same element in wine.
Bright Cellars x Trade Coffee
We’ve partnered with Trade Coffee to bring you 50% off your first Trade Coffee subscription order when you use code BC50 at checkout!
Here’s where we made the magic happen. We introduced our in-house sommelier to Trade Coffee’s Director of Coffee and had them compare notes. Turns out Courtney Hill and Maciej Kasperowicz could talk about wine/coffee counterparts for days! Together they answered the question none of us even knew to ask, “if I drink this wine at night, what coffee should I drink in the morning?”
If you enjoy Riesling, you’ll love Ethiopian Coffee
If you’re reaching for a glass of Riesling as soon as the sun sets, you probably enjoy the powerful aromatics and prominent notes of flowers, stone fruits, and bright citrus. These wines are generally lighter in body with refreshing acidity.
Pour yourself a glass of something rich, warm, and Ethopian. Ethiopia is the birthplace of coffee, and most of the washed-process beans we get from there, grown from heirloom coffee varieties at high elevations, have intense floral aromas and flavors of stone fruits and citrus, with gentle, tea-like bodies. If you’re looking for an Ethiopian brew to start your morning off right, we recommend Broadsheet Geta Bore.
If you like Zinfandel, you’ll love Natural Process Coffee
Zinfandel, anyone? If you prefer to spend your nights sipping on Zin, you may gravitate toward more ‘jammy’ wines with lots of berry notes and an overripe, stewed, or preserved fruit character. These wines are generally dry, but the fruit-forward character is often perceived as higher levels of sweetness.
A lot has to happen for coffee between the coffee cherry getting picked off the tree and you taking your first morning sip.
Processing plays a huge role in the flavor of coffee. For example, in natural processing, the whole cherry (skin, fruit, seed and all) is dried, and the fruit is removed after.
Natural processing often imparts the flavor of berries and other ripe (sometimes bordering on overripe) or preserved fruit, with sweetness we describe as jammy or syrupy. Blueberries are the most famous note, especially in Ethiopian naturals, but you might also taste pineapple or strawberries, with chocolate flavors occasionally appearing in the background. If you’re looking for a natural process coffee, try Methodical Dur Feres.
If you like Merlot, you’ll love Brazilian Coffee
Anyone who settles down with a glass of Merlot appreciates this medium to full-bodied red wine associated with mocha, chocolate, or cocoa flavors.
You’ll love Brazilian coffee. Big bodied and syrupy, but unlike natural process coffees grown in Africa at higher elevations, this kind of coffee isn’t very fruity. The always delicious flavor combo of chocolate and nut butter often makes an appearance, along with other candy bar flavors like caramel. Occasionally subtle fruit notes like cherry or orange zest show up in the background. When it comes to Brazilian coffee, we recommend Red Bay Brazilian Cake Lady.
If you like Pinot Noir, you’ll love Sumatran Coffees
Does your regular nighttime routine include a glass of Pinot Noir? You’re probably drawn toward this red wine’s earthy qualities, usually presenting as aromas of mushroom, truffle, potting soil, or barnyard.
A cup of Sumatran coffee is the right way to start your day! The Indonesian island of Sumatra produces very unique coffees - mostly due to its unique terroir and distinct processing methods. Sumatran coffees are usually dominated by earthy notes, with flavors of chocolate, clove, and dark caramel. For a welcoming introduction to Sumatran coffee, try Caffe Vita Sumatra Gayo River
If you like Sauvignon Blanc, you’ll love Kenyan Coffee
Easily recognizable by its signature ‘green’ flavors due to the presence of pyrazines, Sauvignon Blanc typically shows savory vegetal notes like bell pepper, tomato leaf, or fresh herbs. It also has high levels of acidity and prominent citrus flavors.
If you enjoy a glass of Sauvignon Blanc at night, you’ll probably love Kenyan coffee in the morning. Coffees from Kenya are prized for their uniquely high acidity (think lime or grapefruit), which is often balanced by a resinous sweetness that reminds us of blackcurrant and the occasional savory tomato note. Start out with a Kenyan coffee like Portrait Chania Bridge AA.
If you like Syrah, you’ll love Dark Roasts
Bold and full-bodied is the name of the game. Syrah almost always shows some level of smokiness, perceived as either campfire smoke or smoked meat, and it has a very deep, concentrated color. It’s generally high in astringency with noticeable bitterness.
If you usually go for a Syrah, try dark roast coffee. No matter its origin, variety, or processing method, if you roast coffee dark enough you’ll get some smoky flavors. Dark roasts are usually pretty big-bodied, and those burnt fibers can lead to a little extra bitterness too. In addition to smoke, you might get flavors of dark chocolate, raw sugar, or burnt caramel. As far as dark roasts go, you’re sure to love Joe Big City.
If you like Rosé, you’ll love Central American Coffees
Okay, you’re going to have to trust us on this one. Rosé wines generally sit at the intersection between white and red wines in terms of flavor profile, with citrus and red fruit flavors being the most common fruit notes.
If you like the common ground Rosé brings, you’ll appreciate Central American coffee. There’s a wide variety of flavors in the coffees of Central America, but they’re often some of the most balanced coffees out there, featuring lots of sugar-browning/caramelization flavors like roasted almond or milk chocolate, but also gentle citrus and red fruit, often with medium acidity and medium body. Looking for a Central American Coffee? Head in the direction of
If you like Red Blends, you’ll love House Blends
While red blends vary widely in style, depending on where they’re grown and what grapes are used to make them, they often fall in an easy-drinking, middle of the road profile. If you ask us, they’re perfect bookends to start and end your day - house blend in the morning, red blend in the evening.
There are many different kinds of coffee blends with different components, including some as tasty and/or wild as any single origin coffees, but there’s definitely a sort of middle of the road, easy drinking coffee-that-tastes-like-coffee kind of blend that tastes identifiably high-quality but also not too out there. Think candy bar flavors like chocolate, roasted nuts, and caramel. If you’re looking for a killer house blend, yourself a big cup of Greater Goods Kickstart.
In Vino Finito
Have you tried any of the coffees above? Let us know in the comments!