Strains & products

How to pair cannabis and coffee

Published on September 24, 2020 · Last updated August 10, 2022
cannabis and coffee
Sorry, this combo doesn't work for everyone. (tomkawila/AdobeStock)

Too often the smell and taste of weed get overlooked. For those of us who spend the extra time to search out quality cannabis with a complex terpene profile, taste and smell mean a lot. A complex terpene profile will not only result in a great high, but will also enhance the flavors of whatever else you’re consuming.

One of my favorite things to enjoy with cannabis is coffee. Something special happens when the smoke from a tasty joint starts to mingle with the steam coming off a delicious cup of coffee. Sure they can be enjoyed separately, but when you get the right pairing, the experience is elevated to new levels. 

Similar to cannabis, coffee has a wide variety of cultivars, and depending on how it’s grown and processed, coffee can express a wide variety of flavors just like weed. A lot goes into a cup of coffee, so I sat down with friend Eric Anderson, an expert in the coffee field, to talk pairings. Here’s a list of some of our favorite cannabis strains and the perfect coffee varietal to enhance each strain’s unique flavor profiles. Enjoy!

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Chemdog and Costa Rican

Chong's Chemdawg Reserve (David Downs/Leafly)
Chong’s Chemdawg Reserve (David Downs/Leafly)

Chemdog carries a very distinct smell. A combination of spicy pepper (caryophyllene) and bright citrus (limonene), Chemdog offers a sharp, gassy bouquet that is so unique, it coined the term “chemmy.”

A strain like Chemdog needs coffee that is subtle, sweet, and slightly acidic to compliment its wonderful aromatics. Coffees from Costa Rica are great: balanced, approachable, and not too overpowering or in-your-face. 

Methodical’s Costa Rica La Pastora in particular pairs well, as it produces a nice chocolatey subtleness with a bit of juiciness in the finish, a perfect complement to Chemdog’s unique profile.

MAC (Miracle Alien Cookies) and Kenyan

MAC marijuana strain
MAC from L.A. Made. (David Downs/Leafly)

MAC is a beautiful strain that first grabs your attention with its sparkle, and then smacks you in the face with a fragrance that blends skunk and grapefruit (limonene). It hits like smelling salts for the cannabis enthusiast. With a smell this pungent, you need to pair it with a coffee that can stand up to its flavor.

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Kenyan coffees have a reputation for being very loud and upfront with citrus. These coffees are big, bright fruit bombs, and while maybe not an every morning kind of cup, they stand up well next to a bold strain like MAC. 

Onyx Coffee’s Gachatha OT-18 is a beautiful coffee consisting of two varietals: SL-28 and SL-34, both of which are typical of Kenyan coffees and highly sought after for their award-winning characteristics. 

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Zkittlez and Columbian

zkittlez marijuana strain

Linalool is not a terpene found in abundance in cannabis, however, a little bit goes a long way. Zkittlez offers a floral aroma with hints of lavender and fresh hops from linalool. After tasting this strain, you will understand the relationship between cannabis and hops. 

Zkittlez would do well paired up with a Colombian coffee—like Tres Santos from Intelligentsia. Colombian coffees make up a large amount of the total coffee produced in the world, and based on the region and altitude grown, they can develop great acidity and balance. This coffee has some lovely vanilla and stone fruit notes in addition to floral aromatics, perfect for the hoppy brightness of Zkittlez.

Forbidden Fruit and Ethiopian

Forbidden Fruit (Matt Stangel for Leafly)

The love child of two very tasty strains, Cherry Pie and Tangie, Forbidden Fruit is a terp-forward strain that fills the room with notes of berry and citrus. When you crack open a jar of this aromatic strain, everyone in your immediate vicinity is going to take notice. A strain this tasty deserves a cup of coffee that’s equally delicious. 

A washed-process Ethiopian coffee is the perfect pair for Forbidden Fruit. While not as berry-forward as a naturally processed coffee, an Ethiopian washed coffee is sparkling, effervescent, and has hints of citrus and berry. I love to toke with a cup of this coffee. 

Temple’s Reko Yirgacheffe is a favorite among baristas and is a great entry point into specialty coffees.

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Big Smooth and naturally pressed coffee

Big Smooth.

Big Smooth is a rare bird. There aren’t many cannabis strains that have pinene as the dominant terpene, so be sure to get a fresh batch and really appreciate the flavor of this one. Along with a distinct aroma of pine, you will get some sweetness and doughiness reminiscent of a blueberry muffin.

The first coffee that comes to mind when thinking about anything blueberry is a naturally processed coffee. Naturally processed coffees are the result of processing the entire fruit from the coffee plant instead of just the beans, resulting in a coffee with notes of fruit, specifically berries. 

If you’re looking for a burst of berry with your coffee, City of Saints’ Kosse Geshe Estate is an elegant coffee that deftly showcases the characteristics of a naturally processed coffee.

Grandpa’s Breath and Guatemalan

Grandpa’s Breath may not be a strain you are familiar with yet, however, it’s a genetic powerhouse found in a lot of the better indica strains hitting the market today. A cross between Granddaddy Purple and OG Kush, this strain hits like a classic indica and produces an earthy, dank smell with hints of sweetness (myrcene). It’s great for relaxing, but you will definitely need a dash of caffeine if you want to stay sharp. 

This somewhat subdued strain doesn’t need a big bold coffee to overpower it—I’d lean toward a coffee that can match its subtlety and effects. Guatemala produces wonderfully clean and easygoing coffees like Panther’s Finca El Limonar. This cup is full of light chocolate notes and even some bright apple. It’s perfect for chilling out, just like Grandpa’s Breath.

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Adam Pallay
Adam Pallay
Adam is Leafly’s Education Editor, specializing in helping people build expertise within the cannabis industry. He has spent the last five years working every job imaginable in retail cannabis and looks forward to continuing to help customers through writing.
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