12 Ways to Flavor Coffee Beans After Roasting


Imagine yourself sitting at a less than average hotel, sipping a hot cup of less than average coffee. You know there is something better than this out there, piping hot, rich, and ready to meet your expectations. Even more, there is a cup of joe out there full of unexpected flavor.

12 ways to flavor coffee beans include the following: add oil to your beans, add spices straight to your coffee grounds, add whole spices, infuse with alcohol, add different extracts, make your own homemade syrups, create your own creamers, and add items such as salt, butter, and floral flavors. 

You may think your only option for infused flavor with your coffee beans involves big batches being produced by all your favorite brands. Although this may be a great option to get the taste you are looking for, there is a slew of other ways to achieve the exact flavor you want without having to rely on coffee producers.

1. Add Oil to Beans 

I can see it now. You hear adding oil to coffee beans and you give a dramatic eye roll with a heavily heaved breath to follow it. It sounds completely impossible that something so intrinsically dry would do well with something so intrinsically wet. However, these seemingly opposing components, when combined to add flavor to your daily roast, do a dance that could win the world’s greatest salsa competition. As it turns out, oil is just what you need for flavor. 

If you are roasting coffee beans from home, this can be a great way to add flavor directly to your beans during the roasting process itself. You first want to choose your flavoring oil. Once the beans have been roasted and cooled, you will add the flavoring oil to your beans. Since each person will make differing batch sizes, you generally want to add about 3 percent of flavor for the weight of the beans. 

This 3 percent is important because if you add too much flavor, you risk the chance of overpowering the overall flavor of the coffee. It would be more like drowning your coffee beans rather than giving them a little flavor boost. You would not want your chicken wings totally submerged in sauce and the same thing goes for your beans. There is too much of a good thing and this is certainly one of those qualifiers. 

2. Add Flavor to Coffee Grounds 

This method of flavoring your coffee is actually quite fun. What it means by adding flavor to your coffee grounds is that you actually add spices straight to your grounds. In the winter, I absolutely love cinnamon in my coffee, but I do not like the flavor to be totally overpowering. So many times I would find myself buying cinnamon flavored coffee that left me more than disappointed. There had to be a way to get the flavor I wanted without overtaking the coffee.

Then I had an “aha” moment. All I had to do was get my favorite coffee and dash a bit of cinnamon in the grounds right before brewing to get the exact flavor that I wanted. Now, it took a bit of fidgeting with the right cinnamon to grounds ratio, but after a few brews, I was in my winter coffee heaven and was no longer wishing I had not spent twelve dollars on some premade blend that typically ended up being poured down the drain. 

What is so fantastic about this method is that you can virtually get your coffee to take any flavor you like. From cinnamon, to nutmeg, to cloves, to chocolate (yes, I said chocolate), to even flavors that are a bit on the spicier end if you are feeling bold. The possibilities are endless and that is the beauty of this process! So grab your favorite spices, tanker with the intensity in which you like it for your coffee to be, and enhance your coffee away! 

3. Infuse with Alcohol 

Now, I do not mean boozing up your coffee with a nice whiskey blend, I mean actually infusing your coffee beans with alcohol. I know, this may seem completely outrageous, but on the other hand, it is completely possible. Just like so many people like their meats infused with the rich tastes that come through the process of smoking, so do others like their coffee to have a bold flavor that resembles their favorite drink without having to give up their keys for their morning commute. 

One method, if you are wanting to be super authentic here, is to get a miniature wooden barrel. I doubt any of you will be infusing huge vats of coffee beans, so stick with one that is more size-appropriate for your needs. 

Once you have your barrel, pour your favorite drink of choice into the barrel and allow it to sit and soak for at least a day. When you have it soaked, pour the alcohol out and add your beans. The amount of alcohol will vary based on the type, so it is recommended to scale this to a smaller portion and then use that configured ratio for your next attempt.

Let the beans sit in the barrel until they have reached an absorption level you are happy with. Once they have soaked in an amount you are satisfied with, you can go ahead and grind your beans and begin to brew them. Make sure that you do not brew the whole batch all at once, as the flavor can easily escape from the coffee itself and the alcohol flavor can easily diminish. 

If you are not looking to go through the process of barreling your coffee, there is a friendlier at-home method that you can complete in no time. All you need is a large container that can be sealed well, your preferred alcohol, and your coffee beans. Pour the alcohol into the container, dump your beans into it, and seal it off in a cool dark place for 24 hours. Remove the beans and grind them away and you will be all set! 

If the beans do not have a rich enough infusion of the alcohol you chose, simply leave the remaining beans in the sealed container and allow them to sit for another eight hours. Test out a small batch of the beans again to see if they have reached the flavor point that you prefer and continue this until you have brought your beans to infused perfection. Be sure not to leave them in the alcohol too long, as bitterness can take place with too much soaking. 

4. Add Extracts 

We have talked about adding spices to your coffee grounds, but sometimes spices simply do not give your coffee the oomph that you are looking for. If spices are falling short for you, then consider turning your gaze towards extracts. Extracts are great because they are the concentrated essence of your favorite flavors and this is very good news for those of you looking for a little bit more when it comes to the taste of your coffee. 

What is also so great about extracts is that they pack a punch when it comes to flavor, but they also do not add any extra sugar to your favorite drink. So, if you are looking to cut back on the sweets but cannot bear to think about abandoning your favorite sugar loaded flavored coffee creamer, adding extracts may be your next best option. You will also likely go through a lot less extract than you would creamer, so this could be a win for your wallet as well. 

To add extracts to your coffee is pretty cut and dry. All you have to do is find your favorite flavor and add your desired amount to your cup of joe. There are endless flavors when it comes to extracts so you can really play around with finding what you like and what you do not like. Who knows, experimenting with extracts could lead you to an entirely new world of coffee that you never even imagined. Too far? I think not. 

5. Make Your Own Homemade Syrups 

There are plenty of syrups out there to buy from all sorts of stores. If you simply do not have the time on your hands to make a homemade syrup for your coffee or frankly do not have the desire, trust me, everyone understands. However, making your own syrup can be a great way to know what is going into your coffee products while also having control over how much sugar you really want within your glorious bottle of joe flavoring. 

To make your own homemade syrup is quite easy. You will want to find a more precise recipe to suit your tastes, but many recipes are essentially the same. First, combine sugar, water, and your flavoring together (such as vanilla beans or pureed raspberries). Pour them into a pan and get them boiling while stirring constantly to allow the sugar to dissolve. Reduce heat and allow it to cook for about two minutes. Once done, remove and let it completely cool. 

After your syrup has cooled, pop it into a jar and throw it into the fridge. The syrup should keep for a week or two and will bring lots of life to your regular everyday coffee. Even better, you were the one that made it! You can make anything from a crowd-pleasing vanilla syrup to a deliciously fresh raspberry. This is a very simple at-home do-it-yourself project that even the most atrocious of cooks can master. If you would like to be adventurous, go ahead and make it! 

6. Create Your Own Creamers 

Ok, so making homemade syrups may be easy from scratch, but creamers can be a bit more involved and need a few more ingredients than flavored syrups allow. After all, how many people have their own cows in their backyard? If you are someone who likes to add a bit of velvet to your coffee but wants a kick of flavor as well, flavored coffee creamers are your next best friend. They have endless flavors that will suit your every taste whim. 

Simply go find your local grocery store, pop into the dairy section, and grab a flavor you want. Run home as fast as you can, dump as little or as much and you would like into your daily cup, and drink until your heart’s content. Really, this is not too difficult of a method of flavoring, but hey, thoroughness never hurt anyone! There are even plenty of non-dairy options for those of you that want or need to avoid the cow and its products. 

If you do want to make a creamer at home and are ok with snagging your milk from the store rather than completely making it from scratch, the method is not too terribly involved. You will need condensed milk, whole milk, arrowroot starch, pure maple syrup, and some vanilla. Combine all these lovely ingredients together then plop in another dose of extract or powder if you want something like chocolate or mocha and viola! You have homemade creamer! 

7. Add Salt 

I know, I know, this sounds completely irrational. Salt? Are you kidding? It is the polar opposite of what so many coffee drinkers are going for, which usually consists of a drink that is silky smooth, sometimes sweet, but never salty. However, do not jump off the bus just yet. Salt can be a great addition to your morning drink without making your cup taste like a french fry. Salt has the potential to make the coffee pair of your dreams if you give it the chance. 

No one ever wants a bitter cup of coffee, but sometimes your brew simply cannot expel every single bit of bitterness no matter how hard you try to combat it through different roasting processes. Beans can be obstinate and to fight their sometimes strong will, salt can be thrown into the mix. By adding salt, you can neutralize some of the bitterness within coffee to create a smoother cup of joe without having to upgrade your beans or spend extra on a better brand. 

It may sound intimidating to add such an item to your coffee, but a little goes a long way in this case. Before brewing, simply add about one-eighth of a teaspoon of salt into your grounds and let it do its magic. Salt is not something you want to add after brewing as it would have a more prominent presence instead of being diluted through filtration. 

This does not necessarily add direct flavor but enhances the flavor of your coffee giving you a better cup. Some people have even noted that adding a pinch of salt is what can make drinking a cup of coffee black more bearable- and even desirable. And, any coffee connoisseur would tell you that a good cup of coffee should be able to be consumed without having to add anything to it.

8. Add Butter 

People all around the world add all percentages of milk, cream, heavy cream, almond milk, goat milk, flavored creamers, and even rice milk to their coffee on a daily basis. Many are non-dairy, but for most people, if they are adding something to richen the flavor and consistency of their coffee, it is going to be something that comes from a cow. With that being the case, if dairy is such a wonderful pair for coffee, can butter be just as great a compliment? 

Butter sounds like an outrageous ingredient to add to coffee, I realize this. Butter is something reserved for sweet and savory dishes, for baking, for frying, for anything but coffee, however, it has its perks. Butter is a type of fat, and fat helps to make things nice and silky smooth. When added to your coffee, butter can help to create a smoother drink without adding loads of processed calories. The flavor is actually quite subtle, but its effect can be seen. 

By being seen, I mean butter will not mix as well as other flavoring options. Because it is a type of fat, it will sit on the top of your coffee and have the position that foam would rather than combining with the content of your cup. This may be a game-changer for some, but for others, the reservoir of butter on top creates a nice silky preface before the bottom of the coffee is consumed. Also, not a bad idea when in a pinch and in need of a little boost for your coffee!

9. Add Florals 

It would seem nearly impossible to add such a thing to coffee: floral flavors. Florals are something you think of when you hear the word spring or when you imagine the most lovely table setting, but I would say they are the last thing that comes to mind when coffee is mentioned. However, florals do have their place in the coffee world and have a bigger presence than you would think, especially when it comes to seasonal flavors. 

Just as many individuals like to sip on a pumpkin drink during the fall or brew a cinnamon pot in the winter, floral flavors make a great option to welcome the arrival of spring. Rose water is a wonderful option to enhance the flavor of your coffee and is as simple as pie to add. All you need to do is add a few drops to either your individual cup or scale-up for the entire pot, and you are all set for perfect springtime sips. A lovely spin on the usual vanilla crowd favorite. 

If you want to go even a step further and start to infuse before you actually brew, you can add highly scented flowers to your coffee beans themselves. A great flower for this is lavender. Simply grab your beans, place a few fresh lavender flowers into them, and seal them off to let them permeate the beans for a few days. The scent when you open the container will be heavenly and once ground, a subtle taste of lavender should be noticeable and eagerly enjoyed. 

10. Use Coconut Oil 

Coconut oil has become the next greatest thing to buttered bread in the world today. In the last ten years, coconut oil has proven to be useful for dozens of different things that go from healthier cooking to solving your dry skin problems. It has so many uses, but even better, it has a great taste. With a wonderful flavor, then why not add it to your coffee? Coconut oil in coffee has also made its way, and if you dare, you may come to love it too. 

Just the same as butter, coconut oil is, as its name implies, an oil. It is not going to mix well with your coffee and will remain on the surface as you sip away. However, unlike butter, coconut oil has a very distinct flavor and will be very noticeable in your daily cup. This may or may not be a bad thing for you, but for those of you that are a fan of coconut, it is like walking on the beach for a few moments. Silky, coconutty, and super smooth- you could be in Bali. 

Ok, maybe not Bali, but you get the gist. If you are nervous about being too overwhelmed by its oiliness, try and start small. Add in just a bit for your first cup and get adjusted to its consistency and flavor. Once you have done this, add a bit more until you are happy with your coffee to coconut ratio. It takes trying new things to figure out what you do and do not like, therefore, you can only know when you have tried it! 

11. Use Coconut Milk 

If coconut oil simply is not doing it for you due to its oil component, maybe try going for coconut milk. This is a perfect option for those that are trying to steer clear of dairy but are still in need of a milky type boost to their coffee. Coconut milk may seem like the type of product only found on the most tropical of islands, but good for you, it has popularly made its way onto many store shelves. No longer a foreign commodity, but one you can grab in a jiffy. 

Even better, coconut milk can be bought in bulk and stored in your dry cabinets rather than in your fridge, and who doesn’t need more fridge space? Coconut milk is not like dairy milk, however. Although it is relatively creamy, coconut milk has a consistency that is less dense and more watery. Do not let this throw you though. It is packed with flavor and can be blissfully blended into your coffee without having to worry about it pooling at the top as coconut oil can.

You can absolutely buy this product from the store that has already gone through the hard processes of being removed from the actual coconut. If you are feeling a bit wild though, grab yourself a fresh coconut, shake to make sure it has a decent amount of liquid in it, run home, and either crack or tap it, and pour that yummy milk straight into your cup. This method takes more work, but can certainly be a fun way to give yourself or guests the royal treatment.  

12. Use Almond Milk 

You now know you can grab creamers and syrups straight from the shelves of your local grocery store and you also have read how to make them totally on your own if you are feeling daring. Just as these two, almond milk can either be bought or made right from your kitchen counter. Coconut is a great alternative to dairy, but almond milk offers a bit more richness to its base that may be more desirable for some coffee drinkers out there. 

It may seem like making almond milk from home would be a huge task, but honestly, it could not be easier. Really, for the most basic almond milk, all you need are almonds. Grab a handful, throw them into a blender, add any extracts, sugars, or spices to flavor it as you like, and blend until it has become a nice creamy mixture. You want to make sure to blend long enough to really get those nuts down to a fine pulp.  

Once the mixture has been blended, simply pour it over either a cheesecloth or even a clean dish towel and strain every bit of juice out of the pulp. When you have finished straining, pop it into a bottle and store it in the fridge. You now have homemade almond milk that will last you about a week! Just be sure to shake it before pouring, as this homemade treat tends to separate. 

Tim S.

Tim loves roasting, brewing, and experimenting with coffee. After years of perfecting this craft, working as a barista, and owning a small coffee service in college, he has decided to share his knowledge with the world.

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