Is it a good idea to put vanilla extract in coffee? Purists might say a quick no.
But let’s be realistic. Not all the coffee we drink will be incredibly high-quality coffee that has to be enjoyed solo.
And sometimes, we have a craving for a creamy latte with a touch of specialness. Or maybe you want to add flavor to your morning cappuccino without adding calories.
Many coffee drinkers love a vanilla cappuccino but don’t want to use processed creamers. And they definitely don’t want a bitter taste.
Is it ok to add a few drops of vanilla extract to your black coffee or to your cup of coffee with milk?
To answer that question, I’ll go over what vanilla extract is, how it’s different than artificial extract, and how you can add it to your daily coffee routine.
What Is Vanilla Extract
Vanilla extract is a flavoring made from vanilla beans. But, of course, these aren’t the type of beans you’ll find in your burrito at the neighborhood taco joint.
Vanilla beans are the fruit of a specific orchid grown in just a few places around the world, mostly Madagascar.
Tucked tucked away in a vanilla pod and give us those deep floral notes of vanilla that we love. That vanilla flavor comes from vanillin, which is naturally found in the beans.
Since getting your hands on fresh vanilla pods can be a tricky and expensive goal, there’s vanilla extract. It’s made by soaking the beans in ethyl alcohol to extract the flavor (which explains why it’s called extract).
Vanilla extract in its purest form is expensive because the beans are processed by hand, much like high-quality coffee beans.
It’s also expensive because the only ingredients used should be just vanilla, alcohol, and water. In fact, not many people realize that pure vanilla extract has a 35 % alcohol content.
Don’t confuse vanilla extract with vanilla syrup. Vanilla syrup takes the process one step further and combines vanilla extract with sugar, water, and other ingredients to create a simple syrup.
So while vanilla syrup is a product made with vanilla extract, the calorie content is higher than in vanilla extract.
Does Vanilla Make Coffee Sweeter?
Depending on the flavor profile of the coffee you’re drinking, when you add vanilla extract to your coffee, it can taste sweeter.
Of course, adding vanilla extract doesn’t give you the kind of sweetness you get from adding sugar to your cup of coffee. Put vanilla extract in coffee to give it sweet notes and a fresh aroma.
The benefit of using vanilla extract in your coffee is you can keep the calorie count low while still getting the sweet flavor.
If you want a true kick of sugary sweetness in your coffee, you can add vanilla syrup to your coffee or your homemade coffee creamer.
If you add too much vanilla extract to your coffee brew, it will make your coffee bitter. When you try out vanilla coffee recipes, start with a few drops of extract and experiment with larger amounts until you find the right mix for your coffee beverage.
Related Read: Flavored Coffee
Pure Vanilla Extract VS Artificial Vanilla Extract
What’s the difference between using pure vanilla extract and artificial vanilla extract?
While we might love anything with the word pure in it, we have to be realistic. The pure stuff can get expensive, and that is definitely the case with vanilla. That’s where the artificial essence, or artificial vanilla extract, steps in to fill the need.
Most of the vanilla extract you see on supermarket shelves isn’t the pure kind. It’s made with synthetic vanillin, a laboratory production that imitates the real thing. Sometimes it’s called vanilla essence, and it’s artificial, not pure.
It does have a smell that is similar to the real deal vanilla bean, but it doesn’t come close to the complexity of flavors. And it often gets a dose of not-so-healthy ingredients along the way.
If you want to avoid those additional ingredients and potential chemicals, buy organic vanilla extract.
Since pure or organic vanilla extract is stronger than the artificial kind, you use less of it – and avoid the potential health risks.
Why Use Vanilla Extract in Coffee
There are many reasons why you should add vanilla extract. It’s a fun way to create new drinks or old favorites, it gives you sweet tastes without adding calories, and it can even help your health.
Like cinnamon or other flavors, adding vanilla to your iced coffee or creamy cappuccino takes it to new heights. Shake up your coffee routine by trying flavored coffee recipes that incorporate a vanilla flavor. Or put vanilla extract in your cold brew.
Sweetness without the calories
If you’re watching your calorie intake or are on a sugar-free diet, add vanilla extract to get the taste of flavored coffee without cheating. Adding vanilla extract to your daily cup gives you a sweet flavor without the additional calories from sugar.
Potential Health benefits
According to scientists, In addition to helping you avoid consuming sugar, pure vanilla extract may have other health benefits.
The vanillin found in vanilla extract may give your overall health a boost. It reportedly helps fight cancer and inflammation while protecting brain health. All with a great taste!
Vanilla Coffee Recipe
You can make your own vanilla latte or vanilla iced coffee that’s as good as (or better than!) your local coffee shop. You don’t need special equipment or many ingredients, and it only takes a few minutes.
The benefit of making flavored coffee at home is you can use the coffee beans, sweetener and milk products you want. Consider sugar, agave, honey or artificial sweeteners and non-dairy options like oat milk or coconut milk.
For the creamiest coffee drink possible, try out whipping cream, unflavored coffee creamer, or sweetened condensed milk.Prep time: 5 minutes (including brewing the coffee). Yield: 8 ounces vanilla coffee
- Coffee maker or espresso machine
- Coffee mug or cup
- 17 grams or 1 coffee pod
- ¼ or ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon milk or cream (optional)
- Sweetener to taste (optional)
- Ice (also optional if you want iced coffee)
Brew 8 ounces of coffee. You can brew drip coffee or use a capsule machine. If you like a stronger drink, prepare a shot of espresso coffee.
While your coffee is brewing, add vanilla extract and your sweetener of choice to a cup or mug and stir to combine. If you don’t mind the sugar, you can add vanilla syrup to sweeten the beverage.
For iced vanilla coffee, combine the sweetener and extract, then add it to a tall glass filled with ice.
Add the brewed coffee and milk or creamer to the coffee mug or glass and stir. Taste your cup of coffee to make sure the flavor is right.
Enjoy drinking coffee with vanilla!