The Best Part of Waking Up, Naturally Flavored Coffee Beans


So you love your morning cup of Java flavored? Nothing wrong with that. However, what IS wrong are the chemicals used to flavor commercial coffee beans. And the expense? Holy cow! Add to that, your favorite beans may not be available in different flavors which can be off-putting when reaching for that bag to brew your morning go-juice. So why not make your own? It is fun, easy, very inexpensive, AND you know exactly what is in your jolt of caffeine.

The Reason I Make My Own Flavored Coffees

soapboxFlavored coffee beans are coated with flavor compounds to supplement coffee beans’ natural taste. In addition, these flavors help extend the shelf life of coffee by disguising changes in flavor due to decaffeination, oxidation, or aging processes. Flavored coffees in one form or another have been used for centuries, but the gourmet coffee boom of the 1990’s resulted in an increased interest in exotic flavors of coffee. With current chemical technology, the beans can be produced with almost any flavor imaginable. The concept is a traditional way of making bad coffee taste better, and at times in history when only lower quality coffees were easy to get access to, flavored blends seemed like a luxury.

But here’s the story to flavored beans according to an inside source—the hidden, dark side of flavored coffee. In general, coffee flavoring has flavor compounds (compounded by professional flavor chemists) mixed with a solvent like propylene glycol to attach the flavor chemicals to the beans. And usually, the beans used to make flavored coffee is last year’s crop whose natural oils have long since dried up, rendering it almost flavorless.

The flavor syrup is poured onto coffee beans after the roast, and agitated to offer an even coating…you know, like that can of paint at Home Depot you had colored “tantalizing turquoise”? Flavor syrups are concentrated and strong, geared towards engaging the drinker’s sense of smell as much or more than taste, and as such are intensely aromatic and lingering to keep you coming back for more. What’s in these flavor syrups? Chemically produced compounds designed to have your senses deluged by the intense aroma.

Though it seems that it wouldn’t be hard to create coffees with flavors like maple, vanilla and pumpkin spice using natural means, it’s rarely done in the industry. Rather than infusing your coffee beans with hazelnut, your flavors are more likely born in an industrial flavor laboratory and shipped in large containers that look like bio-hazard bins.The chemical compounds applied to your flavored beans will leave a sticky residue that’s hard on equipment lifespan and will create a legacy of flavor (yuck!) you pass on to each new coffee you grind and to your coffeepot.

You can try slowly introducing your palate to more subtle, yet naturally flavorful coffees—a super fruity Ethiopian natural processed coffee might be a good start for berry lovers; a sweet, naturally chocolate Brazilian blend could be just the thing for the dessert-coffee-inclined. You will enjoy these too. But if flavored beans are still your top indulgence then learn how to make them yourself.

And the price of these over-advertised fruits of your choosing?  In the USA, we spend an insane amount of money on coffee. According to a number of surveys, the average working American spends $30 per week on coffee they don’t make themselves, coming out to an average of $1,560 per year on bought cups of coffee. With all the delicious flavors you can get at your local Starbucks this isn’t a surprise, but there is another, cheaper way to get your flavored coffee fix. Let’s assume that a decent bag of beans costs about $12 (about 30 cents a cup) and lasts one average coffee drinker about 2 weeks, give or take. That means you’re spending $312 a year on coffee. What will you do with an extra $1,248? To my last frugal (cheap skate) nerve they are wayyyyyyyyyy overpriced, especially when most of them give me indigestion! So let’s learn how to make our own cups of deliciousness, shall we?

How to Make Flavored Coffee Beans at Home

In some cultures, flavored coffees are common. Chocolate is a common additive that is either sprinkled on top or mixed with the coffee to imitate the taste of Mocha. Other flavorings include spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, or Italian syrups. In the Maghreb, the orange blossom serves as a flavoring. Vanilla- and hazelnut-flavored coffees are common in the United States; these are usually artificially flavored. Flavors such as New England Coffee’s Blueberry Cobbler or Chocolate Cappuccino are popular in the Northeastern United States.

Turkish coffee is served in very small cups about the size of those used for espresso. Traditional Turkish coffee cups have no handles, but modern ones often do. The crema or “face” is considered crucial, and since it requires some skill to achieve its presence is taken as evidence of a well-made brew. It is usually made sweet, with sugar added after the brew process begins, and often is flavored with cardamom or other spices. In many places it is customary to serve it with a tall glass of water on the side.

Chicory is sometimes combined with coffee as a flavoring agent, as in the style of coffee served at the famous Café du Monde in New Orleans. Chicory has historically been used as a coffee substitute when real coffee was scarce, as in wartime. Chicory is popular as an additive in Belgium and is an ingredient in Madras filter coffee.

Homemade Flavored Coffee from Herbs and Spices

Different Coffee PotsPreparing flavored coffee at home is simple. If you like cinnamon flavored coffee, then you may either add a stick of cinnamon while grinding coffee beans or else, add powdered cinnamon to coffee grounds. You may also opt for cinnamon extract that has to be added to the coffee brew. The same applies to vanilla and other such flavors.

Naturally flavored coffees also make wonderful gifts. Simply grind enough beans for an eight-cup pot of coffee and add the spice measurements listed below. Store the ground blend in a dark glass jar or ceramic canister. While best if used right away, let the recipient know that the blend will stay fresh for up to one week at room temperature or three to four weeks in the freezer.

The following whole-spice measurements will work with an eight-cup pot of coffee brewed with a French press, Moka pot, percolator, or electric drip (see photo). This technique is not suggested for an espresso machine. Instead, add the spices after the brewing.

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Homemade Flavored Coffee Beans from Infused Oils or Extracts

Another method is to prepare flavored coffee beans that can be ground, as and when required. This is one of the best methods, if you are in the habit of using freshly ground coffee beans. Generally, for a pound of coffee, slightly over a half ounce (1 tablespoon) of flavor is used.

Take a dark/opaque glass container that is big enough to contain the required amount of roasted coffee beans. Plastic or metal ones are not preferred, as the flavor can be absorbed by plastic and metal can react to some of the essential oils. It may also happen that the extract causes the plastic to break down.

The container must have a tight lid and should be clean and dry. Fill roasted coffee beans in it, but make sure to leave one or two inches of empty space below the rim of the bottle. This will facilitate easy mixing of the flavoring agent with the coffee beans.

Use the flavoring oil of your choice. You may use extracts like vanilla as well. All you have to do is to add a few drops of the flavoring agent to the coffee beans. You may increase or reduce the flavoring, as per your requirement.

Use a wooden spoon to mix the beans well, so that the flavor spreads uniformly. Secure the lid of the container and store in a cool, dry place. If the lid is metal, do not fill up to the top of the container and use a piece of wax paper to insulate between the coffee beans and the lid.

Store together in the refrigerator for a few days to allow the flavors to really blend together and infuse the coffee. Take out the required amount of flavored coffee beans only, as this ensures that the remaining ones stay fresh.

The general rule of thumb, is the amount of flavor added to the coffee beans must be around 3% of the weight of the beans. This may vary your tastes, and from one flavor to another. Large amounts of flavoring is not recommended, as it can spoil the taste of your coffee.

The longer the flavored beans are allowed to sit, the stronger is the flavor. Use ceramic containers for storing these beans and they will remain fresh in such containers for a longer period of time.

You may try this method with easily available materials like vanilla extract or any of the flavoring oils  of  your  choice.  Apart  from being easy to make, such homemade flavored coffee beans are inexpensive too.You can see the process of making extracts here and here are some recipes to inspire you.

Flavored Coffee Bean Blend Recipes

To make a great pot of flavored coffee:

  • Grind  only   the   amount  of beans  needed  to  make  each pot of coffee.
  • Gently shake the container each time before you remove beans, to help keep the flavoring distributed evenly.
  • Coffee beans that are freshly roasted and cooled will absorb the flavor better than older coffee beans. If you can find a source for green coffee beans and roast them yourself, the resulting cup of coffee will be better than any you can buy.
  • Almost any variety of coffee beans can be used to make flavored coffee.

I use my 8 O’clock Original Coffee (Arabica coffee beans with a medium roast), a brand I have imbibed for over 45 years. And unless someone sends me a fabulously intense coffee sample, I probably will die with a cup of 8 O’clock in my hand! All of the Flavored Bean and Iced Coffee recipes have been tested and tweaked with this brand.

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Bavarian Chocolate Coffee Bean Blend

The following measurements will work with an eight-cup pot of coffee brewed via either a French press, Moka pot or electric drip.

6 coffee spoons (or tablespoons) roasted coffee beans
2 teaspoons cocoa nibs or powder

  1. Grind the coffee beans and the cocoa nibs together. If using cocoa powder, grind the coffee beans and then add the cocoa to the ground coffee in the basket.
  2. Prepare your pot of coffee as you normally would.

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Cappuccino Coffee Bean Blend

Yield: 1 lb. of coffee beans

1 pound (16 ounces or 0.45 kg) roasted coffee beans
2 tablespoons almond extract
1 tablespoon orange extract

  1. Place the roasted coffee beans in a large, shallow, glass bowl. A cake or baking pan can be used, if a bowl isn’t available. A ceramic container will also work. DO NOT use plastic or metal.
  2. Slowly pour the almond and orange extract over the beans.
  3. Use a wooden spoon to turn the beans in the bowl until all the beans are coated with the flavoring.
  4. Store the beans in an airtight glass or ceramic container until needed. It is usually necessary to wait a few days for the flavors to absorb into the coffee beans.
  5. Keep the flavored beans in the refrigerator or freezer to extend the time period that the flavor will remain strong.

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French Vanilla Coffee Bean Blend

Yield: 1 lb. of coffee beans

1 pound (16 ounces or 0.45 kg) roasted coffee beans
3 tablespoons vanilla extract

  1. Place the roasted coffee beans in a large, shallow, glass bowl. A cake or baking pan can be used, if a bowl isn’t available. A ceramic container will also work. DO NOT use plastic or metal.
  2. Slowly pour the vanilla extract over the beans.
  3. Use a wooden spoon to turn the beans in the bowl until all the beans are coated with the flavoring.
  4. Store the beans in an airtight glass or ceramic container until needed. It is usually necessary to wait a few days for the flavors to absorb into the coffee beans.
  5. Keep the flavored beans in the refrigerator or freezer to extend the time period that the flavor will remain strong.

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Hazelnut Coffee Bean Blend

Yield: 1 lb. of coffee beans

1 pound (16 ounces or 0.45 kg) roasted coffee beans
3 tablespoons hazelnut extract

  1. Place the roasted coffee beans in a large, shallow, glass bowl. A cake or baking pan can be used, if a bowl isn’t available. A ceramic container will also work. DO NOT use plastic or metal.
  2. Slowly pour the hazelnut extract over the beans.
  3. Use a wooden spoon to turn the beans in the bowl until all the beans are coated with the flavoring.
  4. Store the beans in an airtight glass or ceramic container until needed. It is usually necessary to wait a few days for the flavors to absorb into the coffee beans.
  5. Keep the flavored beans in the refrigerator or freezer to extend the time period that the flavor will remain strong.

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Peppermint Patty Coffee Bean Blend

Yield: 1 lb. of coffee beans

1 pound (16 ounces or 0.45 kg) roasted coffee beans
2 tablespoons chocolate extract
1 tablespoon mint extract

  1. Place the roasted coffee beans in a large, shallow, glass bowl. A cake or baking pan can be used, if a bowl isn’t available. A ceramic container will also work. DO NOT use plastic or metal.
  2. Slowly pour the chocolate and peppermint infused oils over the beans.
  3. Use a wooden spoon to turn the beans in the bowl until all the beans are coated with the flavoring.
  4. Store the beans in an airtight glass or ceramic container until needed. It is usually necessary to wait a few days for the flavors to absorb into the coffee beans.
  5. Keep the flavored beans in the refrigerator or freezer to extend the time period that the flavor will remain strong.

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Swiss Chocolate Almond Coffee Bean Blend

Yield: 1 lb. of coffee beans

1 pound (16 ounces or 0.45 kg) roasted coffee beans
2 tablespoons chocolate extract
1 tablespoon almond extract

  1. Place the roasted coffee beans in a large, shallow, glass bowl. A cake or baking pan can be used, if a bowl isn’t available. A ceramic container will also work. DO NOT use plastic or metal.
  2. Slowly pour the chocolate and almond extracts over the beans.
  3. Use a wooden spoon to turn the beans in the bowl until all the beans are coated with the flavoring.
  4. Store the beans in an airtight glass or ceramic container until needed. It is usually necessary to wait a few days for the flavors to absorb into the coffee beans.
  5. Keep the flavored beans in the refrigerator or freezer to extend the time period that the flavor will remain strong.

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Please note:
all of these recipes work to flavor tea also!