Coffee goes well with mashed potato, Cambridge University scientist finds

Will Worley
Mashed potatoes, traditionally served with gravy. But could coffee become a replacement?: Pixabay

Mashed potato may be the perfect food to serve with coffee, a Cambridge University scientist has found.

Physicist Sebastian Ahnert’s research examined unusual food groupings.

He suggested that in Western cuisine, foodstuffs which go well together typically share the same aroma molecules, known as olfactory compounds.

This explains why well-known pairings work, Dr Ahnert suggested, as similar flavours compliment and deepen each other.

But it also opens the possibility of new and unconventional food groupings.

“In the early days I saw that coffee and potato shared a lot of compounds,” Dr Ahnert told an Oxford University food science conference, the Times reported.

“I made mashed potato with milky coffee…and it was horrible. I felt slightly vindicated years later when I went to Paris to a Michelin-starred restaurant and had a desert which was coffee and potato. It was delicious. Execution matters.”

Dr Ahnert suggested a number of other unusual combinations which could be tried by would-be gastronauts at home.

Roast beef and chocolate, pork and vanilla sauce and mussels and strawberries all share the same olfactory compounds and so – according to Dr Ahnert’s theory – could be paired together, if prepared well.

However, the theory does not apply to East Asian cuisine, which is characterised by opposing flavours playing off each other, such as sweet and sour.