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Have you been wondering how coffee beans are flavored? If so, you’re not alone as many people ask that very same question frequently.
For some people, it is sacrilege. But for others it’s a way to elevate a cup of coffee to a whole new world of tastes and aromas. If you’re sick of spending loads of money on PSL’s and Hazelnut frappes—you should consider flavoring your own beans at home.
Today we’ll be discussing four different methods of flavoring beans, the different bean flavors and tips on how to buy them rather than flavor coffee by yourself. In addition to this we’re also going to discuss how coffee is flavored in different parts of the world and alternative ways of flavoring it.
Ready to spice things up?
We coffee lovers sure are spoilt for choice. There are four prominent methods of coffee flavoring. They can be flavored with oil, syrup, spices and alcohol. The best part about these methods is that you can try all of them at home without specialized equipment or spending a small fortune. Let’s go in the details of how to flavor coffee beans
Using specialty coffee bean oils to flavor coffee is one of the most popular flavoring methods. The process is incredibly easy. The usual dosage recommendation is between 1 and 3 teaspoons of oil per pound of coffee but it’s always best to follow the specific dosage as recommended by the oil manufacturer. Once the oil has been applied to the beans, they must be tossed by hand and left for 30 minutes to 1 hour for maximum flavor absorption. The longer they sit, the stronger the flavor will be.
It’s exceptionally easy with spices, but the desired flavor intensity can often take some time to achieve. Mix whole spices such as vanilla pods, cinnamon sticks, clove buds or nutmeg seeds into your beans and store in a cool dark place as you normally would. The longer the bean and spice mixture is left, the more intense the flavor will be.
When they are infused with alcohol, more often than not it is a whiskey that has been used. When using whiskey, pour the whiskey into a wide-mouthed container with an airtight seal and add the beans in. Seal the container and shake it well for a couple of minutes. Store the container in a cool, dark place for 24 hours and taste the mixture to make sure you’ve achieved your desired flavor. If you haven’t, give it another shake and store it for an additional eight hours. Once you’ve finally nailed the level of infusion that you’re after, strain them and allow them to dry. You can use the coffee-infused whiskey to create recipes too.
The syrup method is most often used in a commercial or roastery environment. Use high-quality syrup and add whole beans to the mixture. Allow the mixture to spin for 15 minutes to ensure infusion takes place. In a home environment, making a simple syrup will flavor them perfectly. Combine equal parts water and sugar & flavor the syrup to your liking with ingredients such as spices, orange peels, caramel or ginger.
Without getting too technical we’re going to share the scientific side of flavoring beans with oils in a commercial environment with you. Because this method is used frequently by specialty coffee bean producers’ chances are that the flavored coffee you buy have been manufactured this way.
Coffee bean flavoring oils are created by flavor chemists and are usually made up of both natural & synthetic oils & agents. Many naturally occurring oils found in raw materials are used to create flavoring oils such as vanilla, nuts, cocoa beans and spices. But synthetic flavor chemicals are also used for commercial purposes.
2,4-Dimethyl-5-acetylthiazole is a chemical flavor agent that is used to produce a nutty or woody flavor while 2,5-Dimethylprazine is used to achieve an earthy, peanut-like flavor profile. These chemical agents are often blended to achieve certain flavors and the subtlest of flavors can consist of up to 80 chemical compounds to achieve. To allow for multiple oils to be blended and apply easily to the coffee beans the chemical compounds are diluted in solvents such as water, propylene glycol & even alcohol.
Before the oils can be added to the roasted coffee beans the proper usage amount needs to be determined. Generally speaking, the usage amount is typically 2-3 percent which means that for every 100 pounds of beans three pounds of oil will be added. The amount of oil that needs to be applied is also determined by cost and the desired flavor intensity.
Once the coffee beans have been roasted the flavor oils are added. This is usually done by using a pressurized spray system that coats the coffee beans with flavor oil in an industrial mixer. These mixers will lightly toss the beans to ensure that the flavor oils are evenly distributed which takes between 15 and 30 minutes depending on the batch size. When the coffee beans have been flavored, they must be packaged immediately to retain freshness.
Thanks to technological advancements coffee beans can be infused with almost any flavor. Coffee bean flavors are typically divided into four categories: spice-based, fruit-based, chocolate-based and nut-based. We often see these four categories mixed and matched to create unique flavors such as raspberry chocolate & banana nut.
The most bestselling coffee bean flavor oil list is a long one. Here are some of the most popular coffee bean oils:
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that flavored coffee is a new invention. The subtle art of flavoring coffee has been around for quite some time and is still practiced around the world today.
In Senegal coffee beans are flavored with Guinea pepper, also known as djar, as well as the occasional clove. Moroccan’s are known to add a combination of warm spices such as nutmeg, clove, cinnamon, black pepper and cardamom.
Traditional Mexican coffee, known as café de Olla, is the result of cloves, cinnamon and anise being added to the coffee. Natives of Saudi Arabia and neighboring Arab countries use a mix of spices including saffron, ginger, cardamom & cinnamon to flavor their best coffee beans.
Don’t want to get your hands dirty ? There is always the option of purchasing flavored coffee beans. You can buy them from online stores, directly from roasters, cafes and in specialty coffee shops. When you’re planning on buying, keep the following in mind:
– The quality: Unfortunately, oils and syrups are often used to disguise a low quality bean. Make sure the producer you’re buying from has a good reputation for producing high quality coffee beans.
– The price: They shouldn’t be cheaper than unflavored coffee beans. Usually a low price is indicative of unethical sourcing. Don’t spend a fortune, but don’t pay too little either.
– Always opt for an Arabica bean: Arabica beans take to the flavoring process far better than its Robusta counterpart. Ensure that an Arabica bean has been used.
– The manufacturer: Make sure that the brand you’re supporting deserves your hard-earned cash. Picking an established coffee bean supplier not only increases the likelihood of getting high quality beans but is also a safer option. Reputable brands will often publish information on their websites, provide insights regarding the flavoring process and list any ingredients used in said process.
If you don’t want to flavor the coffee bean itself, there are other ways that you can enjoy flavored coffee. Here are some of the most popular ways to add some flavor to your coffee:
– Vanilla extract: Add a drop or two of vanilla essence to your coffee during the brewing process
– Cinnamon: Add a cinnamon stick to your coffee while brewing to allow the heat to extract flavor efficiently
– Cardamom: Sprinkle a pinch of cardamom into a cup of freshly brewed coffee
– Peppermint oil: Add one or two drops of peppermint oil to your coffee pot during the brewing process
– Milk: There are a variety of flavored milks available that can add flavor to your cup of coffee. Options include coconut milk, almond milk and vanilla milk. If you’re looking for an extra indulgent cup of coffee, why not add a splash of condensed milk?
If you use any of the following additives to flavor your coffee, just remember that the resulting flavor profile can be intense so use them sparingly.
The very notion of flavored coffee speaks to the innovative nature of the coffee industry as a whole. While we’ll be the first to agree that some flavor options are just plain mind-boggling, even we are known to enjoy a great cup of vanilla bean coffee every now and again.