Bakers Journal

Final Proof: Coffee desserts 2.0

June 28, 2022
By Jane Dummer, RD

Coffee desserts and baked goods offer the rich, even bitter and not overly sweet buzz of java in a bite rather than a sip

The Social Blend’s Korean-style macaron has a Coffee Crisp piece in the centre, with mocha butter cream and milk chocolate ganache. Photo: The Social Blend

What’s better than the aroma and delicious taste of fresh brewed coffee? All those wonderful flavours in a dessert! Coffee desserts and baked goods offer the rich, even bitter and not overly sweet buzz of java in a bite rather than a sip. Coffee drinks are experiencing a surge in popularity, from cold brew to exciting new flavours. There is an interest in premium coffee experiences. The pandemic accelerated consumers’ commitment to proactive health and wellness, including mental alertness and mood enhancers. All these factors set up coffee flavours and ingredients for success in applications, including baked goods and desserts. 

The industry has come a long way from “coffee-less” coffee cakes and tiramisu as traditional examples of coffee desserts with new, interesting innovations. Coffee goes well with many flavours in baking including chocolate, vanilla, caramel, spice and fruit. Lisa Jackson, director of marketing at FlavorSum, explains: “Coffee pairings are becoming more popular for bakery innovation. Many of our bakery customers use launch data from Mintel or Innova to identify pathways for flavour innovation. Coffee flavours are gaining momentum in the North American bakery category, with 50 per cent more items featuring the popular beverage profile in the last 52 weeks. Beyond classic combinations like chocolate espresso, caramel latte, and coffee cinnamon, we’ve seen creative profiles that mix coffee with chocolate and mint, nut flavours like pistachio or hazelnut with mocha or espresso and fruit flavours such as raspberry or lemon often with espresso.”

Stacey Hawley, co-founder of Forté Flavors, LLC, says: “Overall, straight coffee and espresso-type flavours are the most popular flavour additions in bakery applications. Coffee tends to dominate the overall flavour profile so it can be difficult to translate the nuances of a unique coffee drink that consumers have come to expect. If the consumer desires a latte, they expect a foam or dairy component. For example, when creating a latte muffin, I’d flavour the muffin batter with a strong coffee profile and then top the muffin with a contrasting sweet, vanilla cream frosting. Or vice versa. Frostings, fillings, and crème brûlée are great delivery systems for a coffee profile and complement coffee’s bitterness. That said, one standout is salted caramel in conjunction with coffee. The profile encompasses salt, sweet and bitter, which is very satisfying when combined.”

From cup to baked goods, flavouring with coffee seems obvious for artisan bakeries and cafés. The Social Blend bakery café Instagram feed caught my eye. Specifically, the Coffee Crisp macaron. This Korean-style macaron has a Coffee Crisp piece in the centre, with mocha butter cream and milk chocolate ganache. Tom Wen, co-owner and chief executive officer of The Social Blend, identifies: “We continue to try new combinations of flavours with our macarons. Coffee Crisp not only resembles our coffee aspect but also our macaron side. We change our flavours based on the season, with fruit-related flavours in the summer and flavours like white peppermint mocha for Christmas time. I encourage everyone to try our coffee mocha dacquoise (dark chocolate bits on the outside, espresso buttercream and dark chocolate ganache centre) for those that love coffee and baked goods. Dacquoise is like a fluffier and bigger version of the macaron.”


In terms of the top coffee flavour at The Social Blend, Wen explains: “It is latte and Americano. These two options are our customers’ go-to drinks. They are not as strong as espresso, macchiato or a long black but have the classic coffee aroma to them. I believe most people stick to what is familiar to them such as latte or Americano before venturing into drinks and flavourings like flat white or a long black.”

Coffee Mocha Dacquoise. Photo: The Social Blend

Jackson points out: “The coffee flavour family provides bakery formulators with a range of subtle tastes. We’ve had recent discussions about incorporating café con Leche, a creamier latte-like flavour, or cold-brew coffee flavour into bakery. Also, formulators can add active coffee in liquid form as an extract, as a powder, or as an inclusion through finely ground coffee. Using active coffee instead of, or in addition to, coffee flavour can create formulation challenges. We recommend partnering with experts at your flavour house to ensure you get the desired taste and texture for your bakery innovation.”

Jane Dummer, RD, known as the Pod to Plate Food Consultant, collaborates and partners with the food and nutrition industry across North America.

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