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The Coffee Lover's Guide to Wine

We partnered with Bright Cellars to bring you the perfect pairings.

by Team Trade | June 11, 2021

Whether you're a longtime customer, or new to Trade, you know that we're all about finding something you love. Lucky for you, that pursuit doesn't just stop at coffee!

We partnered with our friends at Bright Cellars — who share in our comittment to finding your perfect match — to bring you the ultimate Coffee Lover's Guide to Wine, with notes from our Director of Coffee and Q Grader, Maciej Kasperowicz, and Bright Cellars' Certified Sommelier, Courntey Hill. Cheers!

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If you like: Ethiopian coffee

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.

Example: Broadsheet Geta Bore ($21.50)

Try: Riesling

Rieslings can be made in dry or sweet styles are always powerfully aromatic with prominent notes of flowers, stone fruits, and bright citrus like lime. These wines are generally lighter in body with refreshing acidity.

Suggested pairing: Gladiolus Riesling 2020

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If you like: Natural process coffee

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.

Example: Methodical Ethiopia Dur Feres ($18.50

Try: Zinfandel

Zinfandels are the perfect pairing here, as they are the epitome of ‘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.

Suggested pairing: Obscura Zinfandel 2016

Red Bay

If you like: Brazilian coffee

Brazilian coffees are big bodied and syrupy, but unlike the natural process coffees grown in Africa at higher elevations, they’re often not very fruity. The always delicious flavor combo of chocolate and nut butter often makes an appearance, with other candy bar flavors like caramel. Occasionally subtle fruit notes like cherry or orange zest show up in the background.

Example: Red Bay Brazilian Cake Lady ($19)

Try: Merlot

Merlot is a medium to full-bodied varietal, depending on where it’s grown, and is the most common varietal associated with mocha, chocolate, or cocoa flavors.

Suggested pairing: Lost City Merlot 2020

Caffe Vita

If you like: Sumatran coffee

Because of its land, its coffee varieties, and especially its distinct processing methods, the Indonesian island of Sumatra produces very unique coffees. Many of them are dominated by earthy notes, with flavors of chocolate, clove, and dark caramel also plentiful.

Example: Caffe Vita Sumatra Gayo River ($17)

Try: Pinot Noir

Pinot noir is the most common varietal with earthy qualities, usually presenting as aromas of mushroom, truffle, potting soil, or barnyard.

Suggested pairing: Tetrachroma Pinot Noir 2020

Portrait

If you like: Kenyan coffee

Coffees from Kenya are prized for their uniquely high acidity (think lime), which is often balanced by a resinous sweetness that reminds us of blackcurrant and sometimes a savory tomato note.

Example: Portrait Chania Bridge AA ($20)

Try: Sauvignon Blanc

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.

Suggested pairing: Kalypto Sauvignon Blanc 2020

Joe

If you like: Dark roasts

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.

Example: Joe Big City ($14.75)

Try: Syrah

Bold and full-bodied, Syrah is also very dark & concentrated in color. It almost always shows some level of smokiness, perceived as either campfire smoke or smoked meat. It’s generally high in astringency with noticeable bitterness.

Suggested pairing: Nihilist Wine Co. Syrah 2020

Alma

If you like: 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.

Example: Alma Soulmate ($14.75)

Try: Rosé

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.

Suggested pairing: Life in the Woods Rosé 2019

Greater Goods

If you like: House blends

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.

Example: Greater Goods Kickstart ($14.75)

Try: Red blends

Here I’d suggest a red blend! Again, these vary widely in style, depending on where they’re grown and what grapes are used to make them, but they often fall in an easy-drinking, middle of the road profile.

Suggested pairing: Folk & Fable Red Blend 2019