Question: If one eats cake and drinks coffee or tea along with it, must one recite a blessing on the beverage?
Answer: In the previous Halacha, we have determined that one who drinks a beverage (besides for wine) during a bread meal does not recite the “Shehakol” blessing upon it, for drinking is considered a result of eating since one does not eat without drinking; thus, such drinking is not significant enough to require its own blessing.
Regarding one who drinks a coffee along with some cake, there is room to claim that one should not recite a blessing on the coffee since the coffee is secondary to the cake, for the cake is more significant and the coffee is being drunk as a result of it and we have already determined that when two foods are mixed together and one of the foods is secondary to the other, the blessing on the primary food exempts the secondary one.
Although the coffee and cake are not mixed together as one eats a bite of cake and then drinks a sip of coffee, nevertheless, there is room to say that the coffee is exempted with the blessing on the cake for the law of “primary and secondary” is applicable even to two separate foods, as the Gemara (Berachot 44a) states that if one eats extremely sweet fruits and then eats some bread to remove some of the sweetness from one’s mouth, one should not recite a blessing on the bread since in this situation, it is secondary to the fruits. Based on this, even when the secondary food is eaten separately from the primary food, one would nevertheless not recite a blessing on it. The same should therefore apply to coffee served with cake and there is thus room to claim that one should not recite a blessing on the coffee even when it is being drunk separately.
Nevertheless, Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l writes (in his Responsa Yabia Omer, Volume 5, Chapter 17) that it seems that coffee or tea being drunk along with cake cannot be considered secondary to the cake; only when one dips the cake in the coffee and eats them together in this way can the coffee be considered secondary to the cake. However, if one is drinking the coffee separately, although one is eating cake along with this, it cannot be considered secondary and one must recite the “Shehakol” blessing on the coffee. He proceeds to support this with various sources and proofs.
On the other hand, Maran zt”l writes that there is another reason not to recite a blessing on tea or coffee drunk along with cake which is that the Poskim disagree regarding the proper blessing on cake, for some say cake requires the “Hamotzi” blessing. According to this opinion, one should certainly not recite a blessing on the tea or coffee similar to the law regarding any other beverage drunk during a bread meal on which one would not recite a blessing. Although we rule that one must recite the “Mezonot” blessing on cake, this is only because we are unsure regarding the appropriate blessing on cake in which case the “Mezonot” blessing is recited as opposed to the “Hamotzi” blessing. Nevertheless, since we are still in doubt, there is still room to claim that one should not recite a blessing on coffee drunk along with cake.
Nonetheless, Maran zt”l rejects this notion and writes that even according to the opinion that cake requires the “Hamotzi” blessing, they would nevertheless agree that one should recite a blessing on other beverages being drunk along with the cake, for only during a bread meal of an established character do we say that the beverage comes as a result of the food one eats and does not require its own blessing. However, when one eats cake, even if we assume that its blessing is “Hamotzi,” it nevertheless does not exempt coffee or tea drunk along with it whose blessing is “Shehakol.”
Summary: One who drinks coffee or tea must recite the “Shehakol” blessing upon them even if one is eating cake along with them.