Purists might preach about the merits of straight black coffee. But there’s no right or wrong way to enjoy java. Looking for a sweeter cup or different tasting notes? You might want to try flavored coffee beans.
Roasters flavor coffee beans using natural or synthetic flavors. In this article, I’ll explain the professional flavoring process. Then, I’ll give you a few tips for making flavored coffee at home.
- Roasters flavor whole beans using natural or synthetic flavoring oils.
- You can flavor your own coffee after roasting beans.
- Adding desired flavor to brewed coffee can be an easier, cheaper alternative.
How Is Flavored Coffee Made?
Roasters make flavored coffee beans by infusing roasted beans with flavoring. This flavoring either comes from natural oils or synthetic flavoring mixes.
Natural flavors are extracts from plants or spices like cloves, fruits, nuts, or cacao. These extracted oils are very concentrated. Their potent taste helps them stand out amongst the natural coffee bean flavors.
During the roasting process, roasters will often combine essential oils. These combinations create different flavor profiles. But you can also use them singularly.
Synthetic flavorings, on the other hand, come from a lab. Scientists have engineered flavors like gingerbread, toasted marshmallow, and french vanilla.
These flavors often mimic existing flavors, such as desserts and candies. Some flavored coffees have upwards of 80 artificial flavorings in them! (And honestly, it can be difficult to find information on how roasters flavor their coffee.)
When roasteries flavor coffee beans, the first step is to roast quality beans. After roasting, they allow the beans to cool. Flavoring the beans when they’re hot can break down vital flavor compounds.
Many roasters then add propylene glycol. This additive helps the beans absorb the flavor compounds more effectively. It is safe, tasteless, and odorless.
Processed foods and beauty products often include propylene glycol. But if you’re wary of additives, you don’t have to use them in your own flavored coffee.
After adding propylene glycol, roasters place the beans in a large mixer. They then gradually introduce the flavorings. (Generally, the flavors drip onto the beans over 15-30 minutes.) This slow drip process helps prevent the formation of concentrated flavor hot spots.
During this time, the mixer gently tosses the beans. Typically, roasters use a mixing device such as a ribbon blender, drum rotator, or candy pan coater. This mixing ensures even distribution and absorption of the flavoring.
Flavoring content reflects 2-3% of bean weight. This ratio means you would use 2 to 3 pounds of flavoring oil for every 100 pounds of coffee beans.
How To Make Flavored Coffee
There are a few ways to make flavored coffee brews at home.
You can use the process above, mixing flavoring oils into whole beans. But flavoring coffee beans can be time-consuming.
If you’re looking for an easier option, you can mix dry ingredients into your coffee grounds.
Try using the dry forms of cacao or common spices like cloves and cinnamon. Add the powder to the coffee grounds and mix well. The moisture in ground coffee ensures that flavor will transfer over in 24 hours.
For an even simpler method, add flavorings directly into brewed coffee. Adding cinnamon to your coffee can help counteract the bitterness and add some spice. Brown sugar in coffee offers an earthier, molasses-like alternative to white sugar.
For more variety, you can try coffee syrups. These easy-to-use flavoring syrups come in tons of different flavors. Plus, they dissolve smoothly into coffee.
If the sugar in coffee syrups doesn’t appeal to you, try adding a dash of vanilla extract.
Hazelnut, chocolate, french vanilla, or spices. The possibilities are endless for a humble coffee bean.