Coffee flavoring is an unexpected DIY project that can enhance the flavor of your favorite brew and add some variety to your caffeine fix.
Coffee is a fantastically versatile beverage – enjoyable on its own, with milk, sugar, spices, or any number of inventive additions that enhance its flavor profile. Coming up with your own flavored coffee recipes is half the fun. Like accessorizing an outfit.
Here’s how to make your own DIY flavored coffee.
How to Make Flavored Coffee: Flavor Before You Brew
Many flavored coffees on the market are made to taste like pumpkin, vanilla, and other tastebud tingling favorites through the addition of oils after the coffee beans are roasted. In some cases, this can be an eyebrow-raising concoction of dozens of compounds both natural and synthetic.
But there are easier and, likely, healthier ways to go about getting some of these same flavors. After all, most of us have a fully stocked spice cabinet filled with the flavorings we’re craving anyway. So, the next time the urge for a pumpkin spice flavored coffee strikes, sprinkle a mixture of cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg over coffee grounds—make sure they’re layered on top and not in the grounds—and brew your coffee. The grounds will absorb the flavor as the water passes through. This can also be tried with allspice.
Another way to make your own flavored coffee by using dry ingredients is to reconsider how you’re storing coffee. For starters, no matter what you’re planning to do with the beans, store them in an airtight container in a dark, cool space. If you want to add a flavor boost, however, mix the beans with a heaping helping of your desired spices—try cinnamon sticks if you’re nervous about adding ground spices among the beans—and let them linger in the containers for a couple of weeks. Just be sure not to wait too long: the beans lose their freshness as soon as a month after roasting.
Another easy option to consider is to add a bundle of cinnamon sticks to a coffee pot or carafe if you want to flavor while you brew.
Homemade Coffee Creamers
It’s easier than you’d think to skip the grocery-store brand creamer.
For a plain coffee creamer, the trick is to start by creating your own condensed milk: combine your milk of choice, cream, sugar, and salt in a saucepan—amounts depending on how big a batch you’re trying to make—and warm for 10 minutes. Stir and continue to warm until the mixture begins to foam.
To make the creamer, add equal parts condensed water and cream to a container.
For the ever-popular French vanilla creamer, split a vanilla bean and take it apart into a saucepan. Warm a can of condensed milk and a cup of your preferred cream or whole milk and remove from the heat after about five minutes. Cover and let stand for 15 minutes and then filter out the vanilla bean. Add sugar as needed. Stir and store—noting that the delicious vanilla mixture will not last more than a few days in the refrigerator. Use an airtight container to preserve freshness.
For a more refreshing but slightly spicy homemade flavored creamer, one of the more ambitious ways to flavor coffee, mix a cup of 2 percent or whole milk with one-and-a-half cups of water, half a teaspoon of allspice, a quarter teaspoon of ginger, two tablespoons of honey, and two tablespoons of molasses in a saucepan. Warm and stir. Pour into a blender and mix, then store. Add sugar as desired and enjoy.
Extracts may truly be one of the easiest—and most delightful—workarounds for how to make different coffee drinks. It’s also inexpensive. The most costly part of making homemade extracts is the alcohol.
All of the extract flavor recipes mentioned below can be made and stored indefinitely in a clear airtight jar. They’re also a great starting point for how to make flavored coffee at home—think of it like stocking your spice rack, but for coffee. Here are some of our favorite homemade extracts:
- Vanilla. Take approximately three vanilla beans, seed them, and soak them in vodka for about five weeks. Store in a cool place and occasionally stir the mixture.
- Mint. Take about 2/3 cup of mint leaves and soak them in vodka, breaking them apart in the mixture but not crushing them. After five weeks, filter out the mint leaves.
- Orange. Use about half of the orange to peel apart thin strips containing the orange zest. Soak in the vodka for five weeks.
- Lemon. Like the orange, cut lemon peels that contain zest and soak them in vodka. Unlike the orange, you can go ahead and use the entire fruit. Let sit for five weeks.
To make a standard simple syrup, which is essential for crafting homemade flavored coffee, take equal parts sugar and water—about a cup of each, as a base—and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring often. Let it stand; as it cools, it will adopt a thicker, syrup consistency.
From here, it’s a matter of trial and error based on taste preferences that becomes easier if you’ve already prepared any of the above extracts. Two teaspoons of mint or orange extract added to this simple syrup should develop it into a refreshing mint flavor or a syrup bursting with citrus notes.
Going a bit further with how to flavor coffee, though, try experimenting with fresh fruits for your own flavored coffee recipes: use fresh blackberries or raspberries, for example, and let them soak in the simple syrup to add flavor. For a more spicy-sweet syrup, combine your desired amount of cinnamon with 1/3 cup of brown sugar and a splash of vanilla extract.
When making your own simple or flavored syrups, invest in empty glass oil bottles to store your concoction. Keep them in a cool place away from sunlight.
It can be a rush when you experiment with how to make your own flavored coffee and find success. The ultimate key, though, is to just keep trying—and tasting.