Flavoured Coffee and How It Is Made

26 June 2019

It wasn’t until a couple of hundred years ago when the Middle Easterners started blending nuts and spices with coffee. Using natural ingredients that were readily sourced, they created their own rendition of flavoured coffee.

Today, innovative marketers all over the world experiment with a myriad of ingredients, creating coffee flavours from conventional ones like chocolate to slightly strange ones like maple bacon and…spicy tacos.

Unfortunately, having a variety of options isn’t always good – buying coffee is not as straightforward as it used to be. From being mass-produced to using chemicals and added sugar, here are the common ways coffee is flavoured.

Infusing with Flavouring Oils

three bowls, each filled with walnuts, cashew nuts, and dates
Natural oils are extracted from nuts and fruits, and infused into coffee beans for added flavours. Photo from Rachael Gorjestani

In most cases, flavoured coffee is made by infusing one or more flavouring oils into the beans. These oils can either be made from natural oils, synthetic flavour chemicals, or a mixture of both.

Natural oils are extracted from plants or spices such as vanilla pods, cocoa beans, nuts and berries. However, other flavours are mimicked in a laboratory. Flavour components from the natural oils are isolated and mixed to reproduce the desired flavour, therefore deriving its name – natural and artificial flavouring.

With that, artificially-flavoured coffee such as Gingerbread, Toffee or Peppermint is created. Believe it or not, some flavoured coffee consist of up to 80 different compounds to achieve their flavour!

How It’s Done

Firstly, the beans are roasted then cooled as high temperatures can destroy the flavour compounds.

To stimulate a swift and efficient absorption of the flavoured solvent, a chemical called Propylene Glycol is added to the beans. This odourless and tasteless additive is safe and found in most cosmetic products and processed foods. However, like all additives, it still poses a health threat when consumed in extremely high dosages.

The beans are then placed in a large mixer, often a cement-mixer drum, and gently tossed as the concentrated flavourings are dripped in. The mixing process continues for up to 30 minutes until the beans are fully-coated.

Adding Fresh Spices

bowls of various spices
Choose your favourite spice and infuse it with your coffee beans to spice up your morning brew. Photo from Natalia Aggiato

If you enjoy the aroma and taste notes that spices bring, you can easily make your own flavoured coffee without buying questionable ones that are laden with chemicals and preservatives.

Many enjoy this method as they can infuse flavours without the addition of sugar or syrups. Plus, it is natural, has health benefits and contains essential minerals.

The spices can range anything from orange rinds, cinnamon, nutmeg, and even turmeric. One of the most basic methods is the addition of spices to the coffee as it brews.

How It’s Done

For a quick solution, simply mix the grounded spices with coffee powder, add hot water, and the coffee will pick up the flavouring as it brews.

However, be wary of fine powders such as cocoa and cinnamon as they tend to clump up and clog coffee-making gadgets. As a precaution, ensure that the mixture is always well-mixed and proportioned.

For more intense flavouring, leave a whole piece of spice that isn’t broken up into your airtight coffee bean storage container. Although it may take a few days to get a significant spice taste into your beans, your coffee will not have an overbearing spice kick.

Coffee Flavouring Syrups

Bottles of flavouring syrups placed on a rack
Coffee flavouring syrups are often used in coffeehouses to help simplify the beverage-process as well as to create endless recipe possibilities. Photo from Igor Ovsyannykov

Although it may seem that making flavoured coffee with natural flavours such as chocolate and vanilla isn’t that difficult, it is rarely done.

Rather than infusing beans with vanilla pods and cloves, most coffeehouse chains use packaged coffee syrups that are manufactured in an industrial laboratory for time and cost-efficiency.

However, these syrups provide consistent quality and flavour, offering a sense of tradition with flavours such as toffee, caramel and hazelnut. Beware though, as these syrups are high in fructose corn syrup, food additives and preservatives.

For a twist, instead of using syrups, try incorporating liqueur in your coffee for a flavour burst.

How It’s Done

Flavoured syrups are often a blend of sugar, water and artificial flavourings. Inside a large industrial syrup tank, sugar is first mixed and dissolved into boiling water.

The syrup is then passed through a milling machine for homogenisation. Subsequently, artificial flavourings and food chemicals are added and mixed with the help of a large mixer before transferring to the filling machine for bottling.

Homemade Syrup

jars of syrup made from fruits
Homemade syrups are easy to make, fun to infuse with new and favourite ingredients, and much healthier than store-bought ones. Photo from Silvia Rita

Even if your cooking skills are next to nil, making syrup at home is effortless and straightforward. What’s more, it is healthier, fun to make, and you’ll certainly be consuming fewer synthetic chemicals.

If you are planning to entertain guests or thinking of a perfect housewarming gift, store the syrup in mini jars, add cute labels or a ribbon and they will make for a sweet, dainty surprise!

How It’s Done

To make your own flavoured syrup, simmer equal parts of water and sugar until the sugar is completely dissolved.

Experiment with spices, herbs, or dried fruits and add them into the sugar mixture for about 20 minutes.

Using a strainer and funnel, pour the syrup into a clean bottle. Allow it to cool before closing the lid and store in a cool, dry place.

Here are easy and fancy coffee drinks you can make at home using your homemade syrup.

Naturally Flavoured Coffee Beans

red coffee cherries on a coffee plant
Skip the added sugars and chemicals, and opt for organic coffee beans that have natural flavour notes. Photo from Skeeze

Tell a coffee enthusiast about artificially-flavoured coffee and they will insist that coffee should be enjoyed pure and black to fully savour the bean’s aroma and delicate taste – from sweet to sour, and even bitter and salty.

Always wanted to get started on black coffee? Here’s a beginner’s guide.

For those who would like to wean themselves from the habit of using syrups and go for the real deal, we suggest the introduction of subtle yet naturally flavoured coffee beans to your mornings.

Many merchants source for specialty coffee beans that are exotic and grown in pristine highlands, away from pesticides and chemicals.

Even commonly known beans such as the Arabica, Robusta and Liberica have distinct natural flavour notes that can taste like berries or chocolates.

Wrapping Up

If you like experimenting with interesting flavours and want to try coffee beans from all around the world, let these coffee bean subscription plans help you tick it off your bucket list.

Over time, your health and increasingly attuned palate will thank you – so will your coffee machine.

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