What Should You Eat With Coffee?

by Peter Taylor | Last Updated: 14 February 2020

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What Should You Eat With Coffee?

Coffee on its own can be harsh on your stomach. Eating it with a small delicious snack is not only beneficial to your health, but it is also delicious.

So, what should you eat with coffee? Well, the answer to this question depends on the time of day and what you are craving! Besides spicy foods, some of the most popular accompaniments include cookies, crackers, and pastries.

In this article, we will discuss how coffee and different types of food go together, including:

  1. Which foods go well with coffee?
  2. Do I need to eat with coffee?
  3. Does coffee keep my body from absorbing nutrients?
  4. Are there any foods that do not taste good with coffee?
  5. Does coffee help with digestion?

Which foods go well with coffee?

Coffee is paired well with many different foods at any time of the day. This includes both sweet and salty pairings.

If we start with breakfast coffee and food, there is not much room for error. Whether you are a full-on breakfast person or someone who prefers a pastry, coffee is a great accompaniment.

Many of the traditional breakfast items such as eggs, pancakes, fruit, bacon, sausage, and waffles are easily paired with coffee. However, if you plan on adding any hot sauce to your eggs (as is customary with some of these foods), it would be a good idea to have a cup of water nearby.

The second coffee session of the day sometimes comes with lunch, but often is an hour or two before or after lunch. Even though you may not be hungry at this point in the day, a delicious snack with your mid-day pick me up is never a bad idea. This pre-lunch snack usually consists of crackers, cookies, fruit, or bread.

Winding down to the evening time, the last coffee of the day is typically drunk after dinner. If you are sensitive to caffeine, there is no reason that this one can’t be a decaf coffee. At this point in the day, you probably aren’t looking for a meal with your coffee. This coffee is best enjoyed with a piece of chocolate or an indulgent dessert, such as cake or pudding.

Are there any foods that do not taste good with coffee?

This depends on both the type of food and the type of coffee.

Each cup of coffee tells a different story about where it is from, how it was grown, and its roasting process. These factors will impact the notes of bitterness, acid, caramelization, and fruitiness that you taste in the coffee, which will, in turn, impact how other foods taste with it.

It would be best if you didn’t pair a delicate cup with something overpowering, as it will completely alter the inherent flavor of the drink. Stronger coffee will fair better against overwhelming foods, but you should still take care to eat something that will give the taste of the coffee room.

One example of a dish that is not a great accompaniment to coffee is seafood. The salty ocean flavor of fish does not mix well with the bitter and complex flavors of a coffee. Additionally, foods that are overly spicy or salty do not pair well with coffee either.

Do I need to eat with coffee?

No coffee rule book insists you eat with coffee, but for the sake of your stomach and the rest of your morning, it is a good idea to at least eat a small snack with your coffee.

Each cup of coffee contains over thirty different types of acid. These acids are essential to the taste and complexities of a brew, but they can wreak havoc on an empty stomach.

As the acids interact with the gastric acids released in your stomach, the lining of your stomach can become irritated. This irritation can easily lead to nausea and stomach cramping. You can think of a snack as a mediator between the two.

Additionally, if you are sensitive to caffeine, eating a snack with your coffee can help to absorb some of the caffeine and deliver the effects more smoothly. Drinking caffeine on an empty stomach can cause jitters, anxiety, and headaches.

Does coffee keep my body from absorbing nutrients?

It can, but it does not normally affect your absorption so intensely that you will notice. The most common nutrients that coffee can interfere with are zinc, iron, magnesium, and some vitamins – all of which are essential to your overall health.

Because coffee is a diuretic, it quickly floats vitamins (and urine) out of your system. For this reason, drinking coffee at the same time that you are eating foods rich in Vitamin B and C keeps you from absorbing their benefits.

Foods that are high in calcium, such as milk, cheese, and tofu can also be robbed by coffee of their nutritional benefits.

While each cup of coffee is likely to only rob you of two or three milligrams of your daily intake of calcium, it is still something to be aware of. However, if you drink decaf coffee, you do not need to worry about losing any of your calcium nutrients.

The issue with zinc is that the mineral forms a bond with the tannates in coffee. Once this bond is formed, it is too strong to be broken down by your body and is, therefore, excreted. Foods high in zinc include beans, poultry, and red meat.

Iron tells a similar story to zinc. The bond between the mineral and the tannates is too strong for your body to break down. Foods that are high in iron include chickpeas, soy, nuts, and lentils.

Does coffee help with digestion?

Coffee can speed up digestion.

It isn’t so much that coffee helps to break down the food in your intestines as is it is that caffeine stimulates your muscles and causes contractions in your colon. This sensation, mixed with the sometimes laxative-effects of coffee, can often lead you to the bathroom quicker than you may have expected.

What Should You Eat With Coffee?

However, some instances show that because coffee is a diuretic, it can also extract all of the urine from your body. If you do not replace it with water, you can be left constipated.

Overall, only you know how your body typically reacts. If you are leaning too far on the spectrum of one of these issues, it may be best to avoid caffeine altogether until the situation is back to normal.


Here are a few key points that you should take away from this article:

  1. You can eat almost any food you enjoy with coffee. There is not a specific list of foods that should accompany this drink. However, pastries, cookies, and crackers tend to be favorites.
  2. Seafood, overly salty, or overly spicy foods are not great accompaniments to coffee. The intense flavors of each create a battle with the complex, bitter, and delicate flavors of coffee.
  3. It is best to at least have a snack with each cup of coffee that you drink. Drinking coffee on an empty stomach can cause nausea or stomach pains due to the high acidity. Additionally, if you are sensitive to caffeine, drinking it on an empty stomach can cause anxiety, jitters, and headaches.
  4. Coffee can interfere with the absorption of some vitamins and minerals. You may want to enjoy foods high in zinc, calcium, and iron later on in the day.
  5. Coffee does not necessarily affect your digestion. It can, however, cause you to use the restroom more frequently than normal.

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