Would You Like To See The Coffee List, Sir?

Coca-Cola and Sara Lee are developing tools to pair beverages with food in the hopes that soda, beer, and coffee may be the new wine.

The tool helps sales people figure out for restaurateurs that cheesecake, with its high fat content, calls for a dark roast, heavy bodied coffee with a high acidity level, she said. A fudge brownie, however, calls for a lower acidity level. And pound cake goes down better with a light roast coffee with high acidity.

Sara Lee’s pairing tool was unveiled two weeks ago, and Coca-Cola expects to implement a similar program next year. Ron DeSantis of the Culinary Institute of America thinks such tools will become prevalent as “U.S. palates become more sophisticated.” We never realized ordering water at a restaurant was the mark of an unsophisticated boor. Pairing tools will undoubtedly present restauranteurs with an opportunity to upsell certain beverages. Would you trust their recommendations? Tell us in the comments. — CAREY GREENBERG-BERGER

More to a drink than you think [Chicago Sun-Times]
(Photo: idontwork)


Edit Your Comment

  1. timmus says:

    Isn’t there a Starbucks-like chain that has an annoying requirement that the server suggests a “pairing” that goes well with their purchase? I recall reading something like this on the Customers Suck or Bad Service blog awhile back.

    An interesting form of upselling! I had no idea that the food manufacturers were getting into the pairing thing though.

  2. Uriel says:

    Will they make beer that tastes less like beer? Last i checked, beer was the cheapest shit you could drink, and it tasted disgusting.

  3. superlayne says:

    I only drink coffee before school so I don’t pass out in 4th hour.

  4. timmus says:

    Oooh! Ooh! I was trying to find what chain was doing the pairing suggestions. This isn’t it, but it’s still very hilarious!

    BK Soft Drink pairing guide

  5. MariSama44 says:

    This is just annoying. Upselling, just as Timmus pointed out. If you’re a true food connoisseur (or atleast not a raving idiot) you’ll know what pairs out well enough. Like, a soda and pizza or burger, malt or shake with fries, tea or water with salad, coffee with desserts, juice with breakfast foods. Its just what tastes right, we dont need to be told.

    Milk and pizza anyone?

  6. enm4r says:


    I love milk with pizza. I know of others as well. A nice deep dish pizza with ice cold whole milk can’t be beat.

    I wouldn’t mind an addition to menus that have suggestions. Often times, I would not think of some quality pairings. Having servers that also have such knowledge could only be a plus. But I don’t want to hear it when I know exactly what I want. Let me look at it, or let me ask.

  7. New Scum says:


    Must have been a while since you checked. Since microbreweries became popular a few years back beer comes with as much variety and associated snobbery as wine does. http://www.beeradvocate.com is a good place to get more information about it.

  8. gamble says:

    I’m still getting over ‘restaurateur.’ I had no idea that was a word.

  9. ShadowFalls says:

    I prefer Iced Tea and pizza, but that is just me. No way should a person do something different to fit in with the norm, you like what you like, who cares what others do. I plan to order what I want, if I am the customer, respect that, I am not asking what I should order, I am telling you what I am ordering.

  10. megyay says:

    bore or boor?

    ORANGE JUICE AND PIZZA for all! I know that is pretty bizzare, especially because I have heard vomit discribed as tasting like oj and pizza. Iced tea with everything else.

  11. timmus says:

    @megyay: you know the old saw: what goes up must come down!

  12. junkmail says:

    @nerodiavolo: What the hell’d you try? Oly lite or something? Maybe a warm can of Schlitz?

  13. ungsunghero says:

    Darn, and I thought water paired well with everything! That shows how unsophisticated my palette is.

  14. jamst149 says:

    The boors were a group of nomadic peoples who fought and conquered in prussia in the 1600’s.

    Ok well not really.

  15. MentalDisconnect says:

    Mm despite having a sophisticated palate (though still haven’t tried everything; I do welcome suggestions) I avoid getting anything other than water at restaurants. Why? I know drinks are overpriced and I don’t like being ripped off! If I’m having a fancy dinner, fine, but just going out for some pasta or a quick lunch, I won’t get a beverage…

  16. TinaT says:

    I only get water because I can’t have alcohol for medical reasons and caffeine at dinner time means I’ll be up all night. So drink suggestions are wasted on me.

  17. Spider Jerusalem says:

    Coffee is gross, and most restaurants only have one type of diet soda (e.g. Diet Coke, but no Diet Sprite or whatever). I only drink un-mixed juices, because I don’t like mixing flavors. I only like “pure” teas, green, black, and jasmine. Water is what I usually order when I go out. You dig, I’m picky.

    So actually, this could be really funny. If a restaurant makes a drink recommendation, and its not something I like, they lose credibility, and I become annoyed and don’t go back. This saves money in the long run. I’m a fiscal genius!

  18. welsey says:

    @MariSama44: Do you dip your fries in your shake? I know people who do this, I don’t approve.

  19. Papa K says:

    The problem is – flavor, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. It’s different for everybody, but for people trying to act like they have class it’ll help ’em fake it.

  20. nffcnnr says:

    When issuing victuals at any Mexican restaurant, i always, always, always order a Dr. Pepper. Yum!!And when i make homemade speghetti, i put a tall glass of milk in the freezer about 10 minutes prior to victualizing, so it’s mas cold-nast by the time i sit down to issue mac down. Ahhhhh, very deece.

  21. erica.blog says:

    Anybody else having trouble with the concept of “sophisticated palette” and “Coke” / “Sara Lee”? Don’t get me wrong, I love my junk food, but I hardly consider it gourmet. When my palette wants to be indulged, it gets real food.

    @timmus — hilarious link, thank you :-) It tempts one to ask other restaurants why they don’t have a similar flavor description and recommendation chart… “But how do I know what drink to get if I don’t see a recommendation?”

  22. CoffeeAddict says:

    The food pairing sounds interesting although Starbucks has been ding that for years. I love my coffee but i would not class it together with wine as it’s not wine by a long shot and no one will pay $20,000 for a pot of coffee…LOL, mind my starbucks coffee comes pretty close ;)