Spicing It Up
We don't usually advocate messing with a good thing, i.e. adding flavors to an already great tasting coffee. But occasionally, it is fun to try new things and some people actually prefer flavors in their coffee. Our advice to you is simply, do it properly so as to not ruin a perfectly good cup of coffee.
The first thing we want to do is strongly dissuade people from buying pre-flavored coffee. On top of the list of problems is the fact that they permanently stain your coffee making equipment with their scents. Pre-flavored coffee is not flavored with syrups but with very powerful oils. Avoid them at all costs. Other problems exist but that is not the purpose of this article.
That being said, let's talk about the next most common way of flavoring coffee; syrups. Syrups work great. They come in a wide variety of flavors and are easy to use. The bad thing about syrup is that they are difficult to find. And when you do find them you have to buy large bottles of them. But don't worry there are alternatives, such as natural spices and fruits. This is the method we recommend.
Sunny Syrups by sea turtle
Traditionally (meaning in practice for many years throughout the world) spices have been brewed right in with the coffee. Flavorings are merely added to the grounds before you brew. Some examples of flavorings used this way are cinnamon, nutmeg, nuts, and orange zest. Just grind them and add them to the coffee grounds.
These spices are gentle and won't permanently stain your equipment with smells. You'll have to experiment to find how much you like but that is part of the fun. Other flavors that are easy to add post brewing are vanilla extract, chocolate, mint flavoring or almost any kind of liquor is nice. Add extracts and liquids after you brew to avoid any problems with staining your coffee pot.
Use common sense when adding flavorings. Don't add too much flavoring, because you still want to enjoy the original coffee taste. And it is important to keep in mind what type of coffee you are using. For example most any flavoring will work well in a nice balanced Central American coffee. However, in a heavy Indonesian coffee you may only want to try flavors that will complement the rich thick body, such as chocolate or liquor. Have fun, and try to remember to use flavors like you would perfume or cologne. You only need a hint to add a little mystery and intrigue, too much and it will overpower your senses.
Published: December 2000, Last Modified: September 2011