Joe Coffee founder Jonathan Rubinstein knows just the right sweet to enjoy with your caffeine fix, whether it's a cappuccino or straight espresso.

By Nina Friend
May 18, 2018
Matt Gibson/Getty Images

Some people like sugar in their coffee. Others prefer sugar with their coffee – in the form of all things dessert. Whether chocolate doughnut or lemon pie, there’s no denying that dessert was made to be enjoyed with a caffeine kick. But how often do we really think about which desserts pair best with which types of coffee?

For some much-needed answers, mkgalleryamp; Wine turned to Jonathan Rubinstein, owner of Joe and a self-proclaimed chocolate lover. While the Joe coffee shops across New York and Philadelphia feature locally-made pastries like muffins and croissants, Rubinstein has some more specific suggestions when it comes to choosing a sweet treat that’ll jive with your java.

Here’s Rubinstein’s advice, listed by coffee drink:


With such a big, bold coffee flavor, it can be easy to lose the taste of the dessert, which is why Rubinstein recommends pairing espresso with something just as intense. “I don’t think espresso works particularly well with a mellow milk chocolate dessert, but it works really well with a big bittersweet chocolate. Fruit desserts work well, but they have to be pretty hearty flavors to hold up.”

Alain Ducasse’s Bittersweet Chocolate Tart has a deep enough chocolate flavor to hold its own with a shot of espresso.


With this mellow, milk-forward drink, Rubinstein likes delicate desserts. “Cappuccinos work really well with ice cream desserts, although sometimes you think you’re tasting the same thing, like if you take a bite of ice cream with a cappuccino, sometimes they almost just taste like two different temperatures rather than super different flavors.”

To differentiate between the textures of the coffee and the ice cream, try this smooth and crunchy recipe for Vanilla Ice Cream with Brown Butter Crumble.


A latte is similar to a cappuccino in both amount of espresso and proportion of milk, so Rubinstein opts for the same guiding principle: softness. “I think a tart is really nice, or a milk chocolate-based dessert. Cookies also pair well, or something you can dunk a little that softens in your mouth.”

Combine Rubinstein’s suggestions with this recipe for grown-up Oreos, otherwise known as Milk-Chocolate Cookies with Malted Cream.