Why Is Coffee Cake Called Coffee Cake?

Do you take your coffee with cake? If so, then you’ve likely enjoyed a treat called “coffee cake”. But why is it called “coffee cake”?

What about this pastry makes it so special for pairing with a cup of coffee? Decades of history, techniques, and flavorings are behind this special category of cake.

In this article, we’ll explore the fascinating story of why coffee cake is called coffee cake and why pair it with the comforting beverage. So, grab a cup of coffee and your favorite cake and get ready to take a journey through the history of coffee cake!

Why is Coffee Cake Called Coffee Cake?

Coffee cake is a light, sweet, cake-like pastry made with flour, sugar, eggs, butter, and milk or cream, and often topped with cinnamon or nuts. But why is it called coffee cake?

Coffee cake has been enjoyed for centuries and its name is believed to be derived from a centuries-old German dessert known as Kaffee Kuchen. Kaffee Kuchen translates to coffee cake in English.

The tradition of serving coffee cake with coffee can be traced back to Germany, where it has been customary to have coffee cake as an accompaniment to coffee since the 1500s.

Origin of Coffee Cake

Coffee cake was first recorded in the early 19th century in a cookbook by the English writer Maria Rundell.

It was made with butter, sugar, eggs, flour, and yeast. It was usually served with coffee or tea, hence the name. Over time, the recipe evolved and variations developed around the world, including in the United States.

Today, coffee cake typically contains butter, sugar, flour, eggs, milk, and baking powder or baking soda. It is often flavored with cinnamon, vanilla, or other spices. It can be topped with crumble or streusel, chopped nuts, fresh or dried fruit, or icing.

Why is Coffee Cake Served with Coffee?

In the United States, coffee cake is typically served as a breakfast item or as a dessert with coffee or tea.

Serving coffee cake with coffee or tea is believed to be a tradition that originated in Germany centuries ago. German Kaffee Kuchen was traditionally served with a cup of strong black coffee or tea as an afternoon treat. Coffee cake is a sweet and satisfying accompaniment to coffee or tea, just as a biscuit is enjoyed with a cup of hot tea in the UK. The sweetness of the cake is a nice contrast to the bitterness of the coffee, creating a delightful flavor combination.


In conclusion, coffee cake is called coffee cake because it is traditionally served with a cup of hot coffee or tea. Coffee cake has been enjoyed for centuries, with roots in Germany where it was served with coffee or tea as an afternoon treat. Today, it is enjoyed around the world as a breakfast item, dessert, or snack.

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