For some, the smell of coffee in the morning is the one wake-up call they need, for others, it might be a little too strong to bare. Coffee is one of the most traded commodities in the World, but it’s not for everybody, therefore, some need a little flavor in their brew to make it more enjoyable. To get this done, there are two options, you can either use flavored coffee beans or add flavor to your coffee. Though it may well seem to be like flavoring coffee is today’s invention with companies like Starbucks being at the forefront with this genius, flavoring coffee has actually been with us for centuries. Within the 16th century, people in the centre East used nuts and spices to flavor their coffee and eventually Venetian traders would bring that custom to Europe.
There are a wide variety of flavors on offer through either flavored beans or adding flavor, but which is the better option? This article will analyze their similarities and variations to see which one is better.
Flavoring coffee beans is no simple feat. The process of flavoring beans commences in the lab where chemists use natural and synthetic ingredients to create the flavors. Some flavors can take up to 80 ingredients to accomplish their desired taste. Once a flavor is developed, it must then be diluted and coated on the roasted beans via a spraying method, hence the shiny coating the thing is that on the bean.
Coffee flavors are categorized into different notes by using the “Coffee Taster’s Flavor Wheel”. This wheel was developed through the collaboration between the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) and the World Coffee Research (WCR) and it shows how coffee flavors are put into nine different categories. These categories include; Green/Vegetative, Sour/Fermented. Fruity, Floral, Sweet, Nutty/Cocoa, Spices, Roasted and Other. See the chart below.
This wheel is a base guideline for flavor in coffee and is also trusted among producers. However, the flavors derived from the categories aren’t definitive, there is much room for diversity and development. The flavor wheel can be utilized as helpful information, but the importance lies on what coffee drinkers want.
When choosing a flavored coffee, one must be cautious of the standard of the bean being used. Often at times, the reason for adding flavor to the coffee is to mask the grade of the bean. This may cause the flavoring being too strong. Flavor is designed to accent the coffee, not overwhelm it.
Added flavor refers to changing the taste of a coffee after it has long been brewed, the beans used aren’t previously altered. Flavors usually come in the form of a syrup or powder that are simply mixed in with the coffee to make a different taste. There are many different flavored syrups and powders that can be used in homes, stores, and cafes. According to Amazon, the most used syrup flavors include; Vanilla (with and without sugar), Lavender, Brown Sugar Cinnamon, Caramel, and Raspberry, but there are a lot more flavors and tastes.
Like flavored beans, these syrups are manufactured in a lab. Coffee syrups are a concentrated, viscous substance mainly comprising of sugar or sugar substitute with flavor. Sucrose, the key component of syrup is usually combined with glycerin or sorbitol to raise the solubility of any added ingredients used to own desired flavor. When all ingredients have been added, the syrup may then be prepared by using one or more of four techniques; solution with heat, solution by agitation, addition of sucrose to a liquid medication and/or percolation. The technique of choice will depend on the physical and chemical characteristics of the syrup being produced. The final product of the complete process would have been a tasty flavored syrup.
HOW IS COFFEE FLAVORED?
So how do you tell if your flavored coffee is high-quality? The best-flavored coffee only uses natural flavors. Natural flavors are extracted from any natural source and then added to the coffees at varying flavor strengths. Other ways to flavor coffee beans include flavor oils or dry flavoring.
Using flavor oils is a way where espresso beans have the oil sprayed over them while they are in a huge pot. The oil is added slowly and continuously mixed to ensure each beans is evenly saturated.
Dry flavoring is achieved by adding a flavored powder to the coffees. They’re mixed and evenly spread to ensure steady flavor strength in each and every batch.
While larger batches use these methods often, Stone Street targets on smaller batches to ensure the products are always constant in taste and tone.
It isn’t always easy to know which flavor strength would be best for your coffee, and far than it is trial and error. We recommend starting out with a 1:18 ratio and slowly upping your flavor strength until you will find the perfect balance. While some like their flavor strength to be extreme in taste and aroma, others prefer a lighter flavor strength allowing only a hint of the flavor without removing from the original coffee taste.
If you are right in between, a medium flavor strength will likely hit the spot every time! Be sure to check it out first, as each different coffee flavor strength won’t be the same.