Flavoring coffee is as old as the beverage itself. The Arabs were the first coffee connoisseurs to add such spices as cinnamon to their beloved brew. Other Middle Easterners followed, with the addition of cardamom, cloves, nutmeg, allspice, and even ground nuts.
Spirits, chocolate, and citrus peels were also included later on. Once Coffee was introduced to the Western world, the now-traditional cream and sugar were added to brewed coffee.
Flavored whole-bean coffees have made a fragrant appearance in specialty coffee shops and in local supermarkets’ bulk coffee bins since the early 1980s.
Coffee Flavoring: Most Popular Coffee Flavors
The variety of flavored coffees is amazing, the biggest sellers being French vanilla, Irish cream, hazelnut, macadamia nut, chocolate, and spice-based flavors.
Such coffees’ assertive aromas come from the adding of artificial flavoring agents to the whole coffee bean during the roasting process. These chemicals sometimes leave a distinct chemical aftertaste.
Some coffee manufacturers, however, use natural oils for making flavored coffee beans, extracting and using the essential extracts from a variety of flavor sources, such as vanilla and cocoa beans; cinnamon, cloves, and chicory; and, various nuts and berries.
These natural flavoring extracts are then compounded with other agents to produce flavoring oils that are used to coat the coffee beans.
Coffee Flavor Additives
Sugar, sweeteners, and milk aren’t the only coffee additives. The flavored coffee age as we know it began in the 1960s when instant coffee producers began adding artificial flavors such as vanilla and hazelnut to their drinks. But actually, flavoring coffee goes back much further in history.
To stretch coffee quantities, some people blended coffee with a variety of grains. The major U.S. coffee port city of New Orleans, for example, popularized chicory-flavored coffee, made by adding to the drink a slightly bitter tree bark.
Coffee Flavorings can be Natural or Artificial
Roasting companies have successfully added hazelnut, vanilla, and chocolate to their coffees. In the 1980s, many specialty coffee bean shops smelled predominantly like hazelnut, not coffee, which shows hazelnut’s influence and popularity as a coffee flavor additive.
These flavorings can be natural or artificial. They typically get added after roasting by tossing the beans in a cylinder with syrups. The flavoring then coats the still-hot beans, which can sometimes appear glossy in the final product.
I recommend adding flavors at home. If you know you enjoy just one type of flavored coffee, consider coffees flavored by your roaster.
Just know that your grinder and brewing equipment will likely take on the tastes and aromas of that flavor. Some grocery stores have two grinders, one for flavored and the other for unflavored, to address this issue.
How to make Flavored Coffee Drinks at Home
Some flavored-coffee fans enjoy adding the flavorings themselves, in the way of syrups, to the beverage after it has been brewed. Italians have long been known for their variety of fountain syrups, and it was only a matter of time before these syrups found their way into coffee drinks.
There is a recipe movement out there, and gourmet flavored syrups offer us endless coffee drink experiences with more creative uses for our favorite, delicious flavors. Countless syrup flavors combined with the soft texture of whipping cream can deliver a whole new menu of tantalizing tastes.
Flavored Coffee Syrups
The syrups provide subtle taste transformations, and flavored whipping creams extend elegant texture and extra smoothness to your coffee drink beverages. For example, a flavored syrup mixed into an espresso base, then topped off with rich, mocha whipped cream, makes for a creamy mocha!
Don’t be afraid to explore new flavors. Favorite syrups or any “home café”–made syrups can be added to coffees, espressos, cappuccinos, lattes, shakes, steamers, smoothies, and frappés (don’t forget desserts, cola-based beverages, and ice creams, too!).
The embellishment of a coffee drink with a delightful dollop of thick whipped cream heightens the coffee-recipe range of possibilities.
Coffee-Flavored Syrup Recipe
When adding flavored syrups to hot coffee beverages, the syrups should be combined with hot, not cooled, espresso or coffee, and then stirred. This thoroughly blends the two flavors together. If you are making a milk-based coffee beverage, milk may be added to the syrup-flavored espresso, then stir again.
Another option for hot flavored coffee is to first steam the milk with the chosen syrups and allows it to sit while you separately prepare the hot espresso. The steam infuses the syrup and milk with extra flavor. Syrups will eliminate the need for sugar and other sweeteners.
Don’t add too much syrup, because you want to enjoy the original rich coffee flavor. Remember, 2 teaspoons (10 ml) of syrup are equivalent to about 1 teaspoon (5 ml) of sugar, but will deliver two to three times as much flavor enhancement!
Iced Coffee; Cappuccinos; and Espresso
Iced coffee drinks are quick and easy to prepare when using syrups. For each 12– ounce (340 ml) drink, add 1 ounce (30 ml) of your favorite syrup to a glass or cup.
Add 1 to 2 ounces (30 to 60 ml) of chilled espresso or strong coffee, then ice cubes; stir well and fill with ice-cold milk. Top with whipped cream, if desired. Garnish with a cherry, chocolate shavings, or cinnamon.
General measurement guidelines for individual 5- to 6-ounce (145 to 170 ml) cappuccinos, lattes, or cafés au lait: Add 1 to 2 teaspoons (5 to 10 ml) of flavored syrups (or to preferred taste).
For an espresso: For every 11/2 ounces (45 ml) of espresso, add 1 teaspoon (5 ml) of flavored syrup (or to preferred taste).
Mocha Flavor Syrup
Simple hot café mochas can be made by adding 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of dark (or white) chocolate syrup to a cup of espresso and steamed milk. For an iced café mocha version, simply do the same as for the hot, and serve in a tall glass filled with ice, or, even better—coffee ice cubes!
Smoothies and shakes: By mixing syrups and other ingredients in a blender, you can experience endless summer sipping combinations! A Mocha Café Milkshake, for example, can be made by mixing 21/2 cups (625 ml) of vanilla ice cream, 2 ounces (60 ml) of espresso, and 1 ounce (30 ml) of chocolate syrup in a blender.
Simple sugar syrup is recommended when sweetening iced or cold coffee drinks. It dissolves in cold liquids better than does granulated sugar.