Infusing Coffee Beans: How to Flavor Your Coffee
Coffee elitists might tell you that nothing beats a pure, clean, straight cup of coffee, present company included. I myself like my everyday morning coffee coming from unflavored, freshly ground coffee beans. But that doesn’t mean I do not enjoy trying out all the different flavors that you can get from infusing your coffee beans.
Infusing coffee beans used to have a bit of a bad reputation because some coffee shops would add flavor to their coffee beans to mask their low quality. Nowadays good and respected roasters and coffee shops wouldn’t dare to do that, out of love for good coffee, and out of fear from coffee connoisseurs.
But there is also the alternative to flavor your own coffee beans. It is quite easy and it guarantees the use of the best quality coffee beans you can find and afford. You can infuse your own coffee spices using store-bought specialty oils, spices, syrup, and even alcohol. Depending on your preferences there are plenty of options.
We will talk about different methods in detail and how you can use them at home to make flavored coffee beans. It might seem tricky, but it’s actually a very old practice which is really simple to do.
All you need is a few ingredients and the will to experiment with coffee and flavors. Let’s get started!
How to Flavor Your Coffee
Ordering flavored coffee can be tricky, and coffee lovers are a spoiled breed, so when it comes to tampering with our coffee, a lot of us only trust ourselves to do so.
Luckily you do not need special equipment to flavor your own coffee at home, plus you can do it in small batches, making sure you try different flavors and methods.
The four basic ways to infuse your coffee beans are with oil, spices, syrup, or alcohol. The good thing is that you can flavor already roasted coffee beans, which means you can just add flavor to your already bought beans that you have in the house.
The standard method is mixing the flavors with the coffee beans and leaving the coffee beans to rest for some time while they infuse the flavor. Of course, different methods require different time, which we will talk about in detail, but it’s safe to say that the longer the coffee beans are left to infuse the flavor, the stronger the flavor will be.
So let’s look at the different methods of infusing your coffee beans.
Infusing Coffee Beans with Oil
The most common way to flavor coffee beans is by infusing them with flavoring oils. These are concentrated flavors that can be bought in specialty coffee shops, or safe bet – online. There are different flavors and different qualities to them.
Not all oils are the same, so you might want to do at least a bit of research or go buy them from your regular coffee beans store. Some of the most popular flavors you can find almost everywhere include french vanilla, hazelnut, amaretto, chocolate, Irish cream, chocolate mint.
But a lot more can be found if you search a bit more, which means you can really experiment with mixing your favorite coffee beans with different flavors and see how they complement each other.
How It Works
The way it works is you mix a bit of the oil with some roasted coffee beans. The ratio is usually between 1 and 3 teaspoons of oil to a pound of coffee, but you will need to read the instructions on the oil that come from the manufacturer.
The reason for this is that different oils can be concentrated differently, so if 3 teaspoons of flavor oil from one manufacturer work perfectly for a pound of coffee, it might be too much or too little when you are using a different brand of oils.
Luckily almost all brands come with instructions on dosage, so make sure you follow those correctly.
Once you have put the oils into the coffee beans, make sure you mix them well. You can use your hands to do this, which will leave your hands smelling great afterward. Then you need to leave the coffee beans to rest for a good 30 minutes to an hour. Again, if unsure, check the instructions on the oil.
The longer you wait the stronger the flavor will be. So you might want to start with a shorter leave time and more understated flavor, and then gradually start experimenting with stronger flavored coffee beans.
Infusing Coffee Beans with Spices
Spices are also easy to use, and they might even be a bit cheaper than store-bought oils. In most cases, you will end up using spices you already have around the house that you probably use often.
As I said, infusing coffee beans with spices to add flavor is very simple. You can use cinnamon sticks, nutmeg seeds, or vanilla pods. You then need to mix them with the coffee beans and leave them in a dark, cold place.
The tricky thing being here is that with spices we are not talking exact science. It might take a bit more time to get the desired intensity. So while it is quite easy to make, as you only need to mix the spices and coffee beans, it usually takes a longer time to get a stronger flavor.
You might need to experiment a few times with different time durations to see which intensity you prefer.
Infusing Coffee Beans with Syrup
Syrups are not usually used for making flavored coffee beans at home. It is a method used by coffee shops and roasters. And it is usually done with larger quantities of coffee. Roasters add the syrup to the coffee beans and then let them spin for about 20 minutes.
This requires some extra equipment that you might not have at home, but don’t worry, you can also do this, without the spinning part. You just need to leave it enough time for the syrup to be infused in the coffee beans.
Nowadays you can probably find syrups for infusing coffee beans, and even probably in smaller dosage for home use. But if not, you can also try making your own syrup by mixing equal measures of water and sugar together with spices: ginger, caramel, or even orange peels.
Again, this method is best for large quantities and you might be more comfortable to start with a simpler one.
Infusing Coffee Beans with Alcohol
This might be the most popular one, or maybe it’s just me, but I just love the smell of whiskey-infused coffee beans. And yes, whisky is the most popular alcohol used to flavor coffee beans.
This method takes a bit more time, but it is worth it. What you need to do is pour the whisky into a container and add the coffee beans. You need to make sure that the container can be shut airtight.
Once you have done this, the mix will need to be left for about 24 hours. If you want to achieve a stronger flavor, you can leave it for some extra time, up to an additional 8 hours. I know, it does take a bit more time, but again, worth it.
After that, the coffee beans need to be left to dry before grinding them. And you are good to go.
Other than the flavor, the brewed coffee will have no significant alcohol in it, so it is safe to drink at any time of the day.
The whisky that you used to make your flavored coffee beans has also infused some coffee flavor, so you shouldn’t rush and throw it away. You can use it to make some recipes or even drink it as such if it’s up to your taste.
While nothing beats a good clean cup of coffee, infusing coffee beans is nothing new. It might look like it’s becoming more and more popular and commercialized, but it is actually been around since ancient times.
Adding flavor to your coffee beans is by no means diminishing their taste, on the contrary, feel free to use the same quality coffee beans you usually use to make sure your new flavor infused coffee is just as rich and tasty.
If you just want to try flavoring your coffee beans for the first time you might not want to invest a lot. So if you are spending money on oils make sure you check that you can get a small dosage for home use. You can also try it with the spices you have in the house, or some alcohol you might have from a party.
After trying it at least once, you are free to experiment with making stronger flavors and even investing in more and better quality ingredients. Practice makes perfect, so make sure you take notes when you experiment with infusing coffee beans and learn from each new batch. I have no doubt that over time you will become a real pro.
And remember, coffee is enjoyed when shared, so make sure you show off all the great coffee flavors you make.
Stay caffeinated friends!