Tiramisu is a unique dessert: decadent and light simultaneously, with a signature coffee flavor. It’s like the offspring of an English trifle, an American cheesecake, a French chocolate mousse, and Italian espresso all rolled into one.
Since one of the key ingredients in a traditional tiramisu is coffee, choosing the right one is essential. A few key things to understand about the coffee go into a proper tiramisu and a few factors to look for in the coffee you choose.
Read on to learn more about the best coffee for tiramisu!
Coffee In Tiramisu: Simple and Complicated
Classic tiramisu has a concise list of ingredients: ladyfinger cookies (also known as Savoiardi in Italy), egg yolks, sugar, coffee, mascarpone cheese, cocoa powder, and sometimes liquor. The preferred choices for liquor in tiramisu include brandy, rum, marsala wine, and coffee liqueurs such as Kahlua. Still, some chefs like to twist things a bit by using an orange liqueur like Cointreau, triple sec, or an almond liqueur like amaretto.
You might also enjoy our Affogato guide.
I have a friend who swears on using Frangelico, an Italian hazelnut liqueur. So there are plenty of twists and complexities you can add to your tiramisu, as long as you keep the other elements in balance. And the critical element to keep in balance is coffee.
The coffee that goes into tiramisu needs to be strong to balance the richness of the mascarpone, egg yolk, and sugar. Typically, recipes for this classic dessert use a mixture of strong brewed coffee and instant espresso–but you can also use regular brewed coffee on its own or brewed espresso from a Moka pot, diluted with a little bit of water.
If you love tiramisu but need to cut back on your coffee intake, check out our post on making tiramisu without coffee.
If you liked this post, you might enjoy learning about the best options for a coffee drink with rum.
Not Just Any Coffee Will Do
Technically, you can use any strongly brewed coffee mixed with espresso powder to make your tiramisu syrup. The syrup then soaks into the ladyfingers, forming a significant flavor component for your dessert. You want coffee that’s strong in flavor to help marry the richness of the mascarpone and eggs with the sweetness of the ladyfingers and the sugar in the dessert.
A medium to dark roast works perfectly: the flavor profile for dark roasts is assertive and bold. It often tends towards chocolate and caramel notes, blending everything in your finished dessert. On the other hand, a light roast, even brewed strong, would lose its character in the richness and end up tasting weak.
Consider Darker Roasts for Your Tiramisu
Many tiramisu recipes emphasize using expresso or robust coffee. Dark roasts are the best way to go due to their bold flavor. Medium-dark and maybe even medium can be used, but it’s not advised to go any lighter than that.
A light roast probably won’t have the same flavor profile you typically associate with tiramisu.
My Picks For Best Coffee For Tiramisu
For premium tiramisu, you want a strong, bold coffee with rich flavor to stand up to the other components in the dessert. Dark and extra-dark roasts make an excellent choice, especially with African beans.
Here are my favorites:
1. Peet’s Coffee French Roast
Italian roast might be traditional, but French roasts are just as dark, with the same level of complexity on average. Peet’s French Roast blends beans from Guatemala and Colombia to enhance the bright acidity that coffee can bring to the table.
In addition, the dark roast enhances caramel flavors, making for a slightly bitter brew for drinking, but one that’s perfect for balancing the sweet and creamy flavors of your tiramisu.
2. Lavazza Crema E Gusto
Lavazza is a famous name in Italian espresso, and this dark roast provides good evidence for why that is. Indonesian and Latin American beans offer a spicy, earthy punch with a soft caramel-like finish. The blend of beans also lends itself nicely to espresso, with a creamy texture that comes across even when you brew with automatic drip–but that comes across exceptionally well with a Moka pot or espresso machine.
- Full-bodied dark roast with creamy and full-bodied, with spices notes
- Dark Roast
- Blended and roasted in Italy
- Suitable for brewing in any coffee maker
- 1 2.2 pound bag of Lavazza crema E gusto whole bean coffee
3. Stumptown Coffee Roasters Holler Mountain
While this blend is technically a medium roast, Stumptown tends to produce a darker medium.” The complex flavors still provide a punch. Holler Mountain features Latin American and East African beans roasted to a medium-dark finish. The combination highlights citrus, hazelnut, and caramel notes–just what you’d want for tiramisu.
The brew you make from this coffee can more than stand up to the rich, creamy flavor of the mascarpone cream while balancing the sweetness of the ladyfingers and the sharp taste of the cocoa powder.
- Medium Roast Organic
- Whole Bean Coffee
- Holler Mountain 12 Ounce Bag
- 100% Arabica coffee
- Direct Trade