What Makes Coffee Taste Like Chocolate?

What Makes Coffee Taste Like Chocolate?

Coffee is one of those drinks that goes perfectly well with chocolate and sometimes even tastes like it. This is why coffee-based desserts like tiramisu or café mocha are so popular. However, coffee on its own can sometimes have some nutty, chocolatey notes. Why is that? 

Similarities Between Coffee and Chocolate 

Coffee and chocolate are actually more similar than you might think. Both are harvested from seeds in plants and have a huge amount of antioxidants.They also have some pretty amazing effects: While chocolate promotes learning and protects against neuroinflammation, coffee is known to improve memory and uplift moods. The process of making coffee and chocolate both include fermentation, drying, and roasting seeds. Lastly, both go well together as desserts or drinks and are bitter in their pure forms. 

Different Notes in Coffee

Most coffees will taste like coffee, (of course), but if we dive deep into the flavor palette, many of them have underlying notes. Some of these notes include: citrusy, fruity, herbal, nutty and even chocolatey. 

Notes in coffee are affected by where they are grown and how they are roasted. The coffee tasters wheel by SCAA covers most of these notes.  You may notice that nutty and chocolate flavors on the wheel are very closely related, so it can be assumed that if your coffee has the nutty flavors of hazelnuts and almonds, it’s also likely to have a chocolate flavor. 

Coffee Origin

One of the biggest factors that determines your coffee’s flavor is the location where it’s grown. For example, some types of coffee, especially those grown in lower altitude regions like South and Central America, Colombia, and Brazil, are most commonly found to contain chocolate notes. Coffee from east African areas such as Ethiopia and Kenya typically have the more fruity and sour flavors.

Coffee Roast Level

Along with origin, the roasting process influences the flavor of the coffee as not all coffee beans are roasted the same. Light roasts, medium roasts, and dark roasts can all have different flavors.

Fun fact: Coffee sourced from the same plant but roasted at different levels can have different flavors as notes can be highlighted or masked. 

Coffees with chocolatey notes are usually roasted to a medium-dark level to allow the sugars in the coffee bean to caramelize and bring out these specific notes.  However, if the coffee is roasted for too long, the chocolate flavors might “burn” and will be less noticeable.

Our Recommendation

If chocolate flavor notes are your thing, we highly recommend our Peru Las Damas which has notes of dark chocolate. Every cup makes for a velvety caramel surprise! The balance and sweetness doesn’t require sugar and milk on the side, so you can enjoy the coffee as is. 

If you're new to chocolate and coffee we recommend having our signature Downtown Blendwhich has nutty and sweet cedar flavors. Seasonally sourced from Africa, this medium roast has fruity acidity that goes perfectly well with the nutty notes and makes for a great segue into the chocolate coffee realm.