how To Flavor coffee: 33 simple ideas
Coffee has a delicious flavor all on its own, but sometimes you just want to make it extra special. Whether you’re looking to add a nutritional boost or a spicy holiday flare to your morning brew, we’ve got you covered.
Our list features 33 foolproof ways on add flavor to your coffee at home, easily.
1. Coconut oil
Coconut oil has become increasingly popular in recent years thanks to health benefits ranging from improved brain function to weight loss and antibacterial properties (1).
But coconut oil in coffee provides more than just a nutritional boost. It yields a delicious creamy texture and light coconut flavor that you can enhance further with a touch of coconut milk.
P.S. If you want to explore some expert flavors check out this guide: best flavored coffee.
First popularized by Bulletproof, adding butter to coffee is a growing trend, particularly for those following the keto or intermittent fasting diets. The key is to use high-quality grass-fed unsalted butter or ghee.
Blend it into your coffee with coconut oil for a creamy treat that will curb your appetite and has been proven to prevent the post-caffeine crash (2).
Adding salt to your coffee grounds is an efficient way to eliminate the unappealing bitterness found in some coffees or to compensate for bad-tasting brewing water. In fact, in some seaside regions, using salted water for coffee is a long-standing tradition.
It can even be a healthy choice, as the salt can replenish the sodium you lose when drinking coffee.
4. Flavor extracts
Flavor extracts come in many forms, including vanilla, nuts, coconut, orange, and chocolate, all of which can pair deliciously with the right coffee. They are basically nutritionless, which makes them a tremendous calorie-free and sugar-free way to liven up your coffee (3). So consider a hint of vanilla extract in your morning brew.
5. Cocoa powder
Chocolate has long been beloved for its rich flavors, but research is increasingly revealing its healthy properties (4). Cocoa powder is full of antioxidants, even more so than red wine or green tea. Thus, it lowers your blood pressure.
If you want to add a little to your diet, try whipping up the traditional Italian drink, Barbajada.
6. Non-dairy milk
The non-dairy milk industry has increased in recent years, offering “milk” made from oats, soy, almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, and more. Each provides a unique set of flavors, minerals, and vitamins, but any can be a delicious and healthy addition to your morning java (5).
We love an excellent sugar-free almond milk latte.
Cardamom is a warm spice popular across the Middle East and India, where it has a long history as a coffee additive. Its flavor is a natural pairing for the fruity and bittersweet nature of coffee. It’s rich in antioxidants, and evidence has shown it may fight cancer, lower inflammation, and aid in digestion (6).
8. Cinnamon (ground)
Harvested from the inner bark of a tropical plant, cinnamon is the spice we perhaps most associate with coffee, whether it’s brewing a cinnamon coffee, adding a sprinkle atop a cappuccino, or embracing the pumpkin spice latte craze in fall.
Cinnamon adds more than just great flavor; it’s proven to control blood sugar and improve cholesterol levels (7).
9. Cayenne pepper
Cayenne may surprise you like a coffee flavoring. It is common in many Central American and Middle Eastern countries, where they often add it along with milk, sugar, or chocolate. Like all hot peppers, it is high in antioxidants, boosts metabolism, and is suitable for blood circulation (8).
So try a Mexican mocha, or cayenne cold brew today.
10. Maple syrup
Maple syrup has a rich, smooth taste that interacts well with coffee flavors. It contains minerals and nutrients not found in refined white sugar, including calcium, magnesium, zinc, and potassium (9). It’s a great addition to cold coffee drinks because it doesn’t need to dissolve, so try stirring it into cold brew or whip up an iced maple latte.
Ginger has a long history as a medicinal plant, treating everything from colds to cancer, with modern research focusing on its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antinausea, and anticancer properties (10). It has an equally long history as a coffee addition, as in the traditional Yemeni drink, Qishr, to which it adds its characteristic spicy flavor.
12. Hazelnut oil
Hazelnut is one of the most popular coffee flavors, thanks to its inherent buttery sweetness. If you don’t want to buy chemical-ridden flavored coffee, adding a bit of hazelnut oil to your brew or grinding your coffee beans with hazelnuts is an excellent alternative contributing healthy fats to your diet.
13. Peppermint oil
Peppermint oil has been well studied for medicinal properties, and it shows to aid in digestion, relieve headaches, and help those suffering from IBS (11). If mint and coffee seem like a strange combination, use chocolate as a bridging flavor and try a peppermint mocha.
Stevia is an artificial sweetener extracted from the plant Stevia rebaudiana. Like other artificial sweeteners, it is non-nutritive, meaning it contains virtually no calories, which makes it an excellent option for weight loss (12).
Try it stirred into your morning brew in place of sugar or get fancy and mix up a frozen coffee treat.
Nutmeg is an intense spice, with warm, sweet, and nutty flavors that pair nicely with coffee, as in a vanilla nutmeg brew or sprinkled over a foamy latte. On top of that, it has antibacterial properties and contains compounds known to help improve memory, benefit the heart, relax muscles, and aid with digestion (13).
16 Cacao nibs
Cacao nibs are cacao beans that have been roasted and broken into small pieces (14).
They taste of chocolate, but less sweet, often with fruity or nutty flavor notes, much like coffee. Grind cacao nibs right along with your coffee beans to add a delicate chocolate flavor, and nutritional elements like magnesium, fiber, iron, and antioxidants, to your morning brew.
17. Melted chocolate
Chocolate and coffee is an age-old flavor combination, dating back to the Mayans of 2000 B.C. Each enhances the other, and adding rich, melted chocolate to your coffee is a decadent experience.
You can also reap some health benefits from your homemade mocha if you opt for dark chocolate. This includes decreased blood pressure as well (15).
Lavender’s flavor profile is floral and sweet, with notes of herbal and earthy tones, making it an exciting partner for coffee. It is popularly used for its soothing effects, to aid in pain management and promote uninterrupted sleep (16).
Try lulling yourself with a warm lavender latte, but opt for decaf to take advantage of its calming influence.
Rosewater is a liquid made from water and rose petals, giving it a sweet and floral flavor.
It is popular in the Middle East, where they often add it to coffee or tea along with other spices like cardamom and saffron. Thanks to its tannins and flavonoids, it has been used to reduce inflammation, alleviate anxiety, and aid in digestion (17).
20. Star anise
Star anise, long popular in Chinese cooking as a member of five-spice powder, has a sweet and licorice-like flavor that can pair well with fruity or earthy coffees, particularly when paired with other spices. Along with its flavor, it can combat bacteria, yeast, and fungi and has been used to fight the flu (18).
Try it in a Kenyan spiced coffee.
Another member of five-spice powder, cloves have a pungent, sweet flavor that verges on hot or numbing. They are naturally bitter, so pair them with coffee very carefully. This citrus clove spiced coffee is a great option, with the citrus cutting the bitterness. Cloves possess antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties and have been shown to alleviate tooth pain (19).
22. Homemade syrup
Simple syrup is typically a 1:1 mixture of sugar to water. When made at home, you can add any flavor you like, without the chemicals and preservatives found in commercial options. Think caramel, flowers, or berries.
Like maple syrup, simple syrup is an excellent way to sweeten iced drinks, because it doesn’t need heat to dissolve.
23. Homemade coffee creamer
Coffee creamers don’t have an excellent reputation when it comes to nutrition, and for a good reason. Producers tend to pack them with stabilizers, preservatives, unhealthy fats, and added sugars.
Luckily, they are easy to make at home. This allows you to choose the nutritional profile, and you can also get creative with your favorite flavors.
24. Pumpkin pie spice
Pumpkin pie spice is a blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and allspice, and if Starbucks’ pumpkin spice latte has proven anything, it’s that it pairs remarkably well with coffee. It also offers a nutritional boost to your brew in the form of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants (20). Why not try whipping up an at-home PSL.
While alcohol might not be the healthiest addition to your coffee, it is an undoubtedly festive and delicious choice, perfect for a warming winter treat—spike your morning brew with a creamy choice like Bailey’s.
Add a sweet liqueur, like Frangelico or Amaretto, to an after-dinner aperitif, or opt for the classic whiskey-based Irish coffee.
26. Ice cream
Another addition to filing under “treat” rather than “health food” is ice cream. The most famous version is Italian affogato, which features a scoop of creamy gelato topped with a rich espresso shot, but don’t feel limited by tradition. Your favorite flavor of ice cream, be it mint chip or butterscotch, can be melted into a decadent coffee beverage.
27. Orange juice
In Italy, they often serve espresso with orange peel on the side so that the citrus can cut the coffee’s bitterness.
But orange juice in coffee is a uniquely American invention, consisting of cold orange juice topped with a floater of hot espresso, for a refreshing concoction with a distinctive layered look. Aside from its aesthetics, the juice provides vitamin C, B vitamins, vitamin A, potassium, and calcium (21).
28. Lemon or lime
Citrus is a common addition to coffee as it can cut through the bitterness and brighten a coffee’s flavor. Take, for example, Brazil’s famous Caipirinha cocktail. Lemons and limes are rich in vitamins and antioxidants, so adding them to your brew can help fight cancer and boost your immune system (22).
Just remember that both citrus and coffee can be highly acidic.
If you like your drink sweet, honey in coffee is a great idea, as it provides more nutrients than refined sugar, including antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins (23). It’s also known to soothe the throat, so a warm honey-sweetened brew is a perfect cold remedy. Just keep in mind that honey is unsuitable for vegans.
30. Agave syrup
Agave syrup is a naturally occurring sweetener extracted from the agave plant. It’s easily dissolvable, making it a great addition to cold coffee drinks. And unlike honey, it’s an acceptable sweetener for vegans.
Dieticians have soured on agave in recent years, however, due to its high fructose levels, so use it sparingly (24).
31. Sweetened condensed milk
Sweetened condensed milk has a long history in Latin America and Southeast Asia, regions where both buying and storing traditional dairy can be expensive (25). It is particularly renowned as an addition to Vietnamese coffee, both hot and iced, a delicious combination you can quickly try at home.
32. Raw egg
Workout fanatics have adopted egg coffee as a quick and easy way to get their morning protein. And while there is some truth to their claims, it is equally valuable as a practical and delicious breakfast (26). Whisking an egg into hot coffee gives it a creamy consistency, and using pasteurized eggs, and hot coffee avoids any risk of Salmonella.
Cheese in coffee is a regional delicacy popular in northern Scandinavia, where it is known as Kaffeost (27). The cheese used is a firm variety called leipäjuusto, which softens in the hot liquid but does not melt.
Serving Kaffeost is a social ritual, to be enjoyed with good company and worth trying yourself.
Did you enjoy this list? Did it inspire you to get creative with your morning java? If so, share it with your friends so they can enjoy delicious flavored coffee as well. Also, we listed down some nice foods you can pair with your coffee.
Did we miss an obvious way to flavor coffee? Let us know in the comments. If not, happy coffeeing!
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- Streit L. (2018, August 8). 10 Health Benefits of Cardamom, Backed by Science. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/cardamom-benefits
- Sandee LaMotte (2018, March 8). Cinnamon: Pantry staple — and medical powerhouse? Retrieved from https://edition.cnn.com/2017/08/24/health/cinnamon-health-benefits/index.html
- Miller K. (2019, November 2). 5 Legit Health Benefits Of Cayenne Pepper, According To Nutritionists. Retrieved from https://www.womenshealthmag.com/food/a29515863/cayenne-pepper-benefits/
- Kichler E. (2019, January 4). Canadians, Rejoice! Maple Syrup Has Many Health Benefits. Retrieved from https://www.canadianliving.com/health/nutrition/article/canadians-rejoice-maple-syrup-has-many-health-benefits
- Bode A. and Zigang D. (n.d.). The Amazing and Mighty Ginger. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92775/
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- Shoemaker, S. (2019, May 14). Is Stevia a Good Substitute for Sugar? Benefits and Downsides. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/stevia-vs-sugar
- Wolfe I. (n.d.) Is Nutmeg Powder Good for You? Retrieved from https://www.livestrong.com/article/557682-is-nutmeg-powder-good-for-you/
- Coles T. (2013, February 8). Cacao Nibs: Even Better For You Than Dark Chocolate. Retrieved from https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/08/02/cacao-nibs_n_3695571.html
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- Koulivand P. H. Ghadiri M. K. and Gorji A. (2013, March 14). Lavender and the Nervous System. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3612440/
- Maguire K. (n.d.) Why the Ancient Tradition of Drinking Rose Water Is the Newest Thing in Beauty. Retrieved from https://www.wellandgood.com/good-food/why-you-should-drink-rose-water/
- (n.d.) Star Anise. Retrieved from. https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-364/star-anise
- Firman T. (2019, February 28). How to Use the Benefits of Cloves and to up Your Spice Game. Retrieved from https://www.wellandgood.com/good-food/benefits-of-cloves/
- White A. D. (n.d.), Health Benefits of Pumpkin Spice. Retrieved from https://www.foodnetwork.com/healthyeats/recipes/2016/10/health-benefits-of-pumpkin-spice
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- Rambo. (2018, October 16). Kaffeost, The Extravagant Swedish Combination Of Cheese And Coffee. Retrieved from https://anywaycafenyc.com/kaffeost-the-extravagant-swedish-combination-of-cheese-and-coffee/