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Vanilla hazelnut coffee. Chocolate macadamia nut coffee. Rum spice coffee. Cinnamon hazelnut – you get the idea. Flavored coffee is all the rage, and with good reason. Coffee, delicious on its own, also blends beautifully with a wide variety of flavors. Most major supermarket brands offer at least vanilla and hazelnut coffee, and a number of specialty roasters offer a range of flavors from cinnamon to rum. While some roasters use all natural flavors, most commercial flavored coffees are made with chemical sprays developed in laboratories.
Some of those chemicals may not be terrific for your health and none of them are great for your coffee grinder or coffee maker. The oils used to add flavor to the coffee beans are almost impossible to remove from the various parts of the machine with which they come into contact.
So what’s a coffee lover to do if you love flavored coffee? There are a couple of different options to flavor your coffee without affecting your machine – or your health – adversely. Here’s the best suggestions from expert baristas.
Flavored Coffee Syrups
Most baristas choose flavored coffee syrup as the method of choice for adding flavor to your coffee. There are several different brands of coffee flavoring syrups on the market. Some of the brands that you’ll see include Monin, Da Vinci, Torani, Dolce, Stirling, and Senza. I’m most familiar with Torani, which offers a full range of flavored syrups that you can add to coffee.
Syrups are usually made with one of four sweeteners – fruit juice, beet sugar, corn sugar and pure cane sugar. Each of these have a different intensity of sweetness, and every one of the manufacturers has a secret recipe for each of their products.
To use coffee syrup in your coffee, add the desired amount to the espresso or coffee before adding milk, and stir thoroughly to properly dissolve it into the coffee.
Some of the most popular flavors in coffee syrups are vanilla, almond, hazelnut, chocolate and rum. You’ll spend about $7 a bottle for Torani syrup, and get enough to make months worth of flavored coffee. Added bonus – Torani is also great for making Italian soda – just add a squirt to club soda or sparkling water. It’s refreshingly not-too-sweet, and a great choice for your kids.
Flavoring Coffee Beans
If you prefer to brew your coffee with flavored beans, try this. Choose a natural flavor that is highly fragrant. Some choices are vanilla beans, cinnamon sticks, nutmeg, cloves, rose petals or citrus peel. Wrap about 1/4 cup of your flavoring agent in a small square of netting or cheesecloth and tie loosely. Drop it into your coffee jar, bag or other coffee storage option. Give the jar or bag a shake to bury the flavoring in the beans and store it – covered and airtight of course – for a day or two. If you want to increase the flavor absorption, spread the beans in a flat layer on a cookie sheet and heat them briefly in the oven – and I do mean briefly. Preheat your oven to its lowest temperature and heat the beans for about five minutes, then dump them into an airtight storage jar along with your flavoring agent. Coffee beans are remarkably absorbent and will pick up the flavors and scents of the spices you’ve added within a couple of days.