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As fall approaches, and even in the middle of a global pandemic, a nation’s thoughts turn to pumpkin spice lattes. This now-iconic autumn drink has lovers and haters, but it certainly seems that we can count on its arrival each year now. For many coffee purists, however, they bemoan any existence of flavored coffee.

If you enjoy flavored coffee options, it’s good to understand what they are and how they may impact the quality of your favorite hot beverage. 

At Equiano Coffee, we work with the source to ensure we are getting the highest quality beans possible. We have partnerships with incredible farmers around the globe so that we can create delicious roasts for you.

What Gives Flavored Coffee Its Flavor?

Flavored coffee remains popular.

There are a few ways that you can end up with a coffee that has other flavors added. 

  • You can add syrup or flavored creamer to your brewed coffee.
  • You can grind up spices to add to your coffee grounds when brewing.
  • Roasters can add oils and extracts to the beans.

When you get a flavored coffee, such as the ever-present pumpkin spice latte, the coffee shop is probably using the first method. They add syrups or creamers to the espresso after brewing. Often, these flavorings contain added sugars and fats, as well.

If you find flavored beans in the store, however, you’re looking at the last option. Choices like “toasted marshmallow” coffee beans are unlikely to use natural flavors. Instead, manufacturers spray flavored synthetic oils over the beans and allow them to absorb the flavors.

Unfortunately, most of the time, these flavored coffee beans are of inferior quality, and adding artificial flavors certainly doesn’t make them better. The chemicals needed to infuse flavors into the coffee beans give many consumers pause.

And to add insult to injury, supermarket offerings of flavored coffee could be months old, or more. Ideally, you should use coffee beans within 3-14 days of roasting. So adding synthetic flavors is a way that mass-market roasters can try to use up old beans.

Is There a Better Way?

If you enjoy drinking flavored coffee, consider adding in your own spices and flavors at home. This option allows you to control the quality of the beans you choose as your starting point. Always use the highest quality possible.

You can grind spices and nuts to add directly into the coffee grounds before brewing. Just keep in mind that a little goes a long way. So it’s best to start with a small amount as you experiment with ratios. 

Coffee cinnamon 1
coffee beans in cup and on a table

Pay attention to the notes in your coffee beans so that you can choose spices or nuts that will blend well with the flavor and aroma. For example, a bean with chocolate tasting notes could pair nicely with ground hazelnuts.

Similarly, many coffee lovers enjoy making their own flavored syrups for use in lattes at home. They can control the intensity of the flavor and the quality of ingredients. Making syrups is relatively easy, and they can be fun gifts, too. The holidays are right around the corner!

No Matter What, Get the Best Beans

You cannot brew an excellent cup of coffee without excellent beans. So whether you want to add flavors or savor it black, start with the highest quality you can get. 

Different roasts and methods of preparation will offer various tasting profiles. Once you choose your coffee beans, you can experiment with flavor pairings. Some of the things that people enjoy adding to their coffee include:

  • Ground-up banana chips
  • A splash of fresh-squeezed orange or grapefruit juice
  • Fruit syrups
  • Cocoa powder
  • Ground cinnamon, cardamom, turmeric, or nutmeg

If you don’t want to flavor your coffee, you can consider flavorful food pairings instead. For example, fresh berries and stone fruits taste fabulous with coffees from Tanzania or Haiti. Costa Rican and South American coffees tend to be great partners with chocolate and pastries.

Back to the Pumpkin Spice Latte

So, now that you have some information on flavored coffee, let’s return to the pumpkin spice latte debate. If you vehemently oppose the PSL, you are not alone. From memes to John Oliver’s show, plenty of ridicule abounds for this fall beverage.

But if you love it, then here is a recipe you can try at home.

  1. Mix two tablespoons of unsweetened pumpkin with half a cup of your favorite milk.
  2. Add a little brown sugar, vanilla extract, and pumpkin pie spice to taste.
  3. Heat the mixture in the microwave or on the stove.
  4. Brew a strong cup of specialty coffee and add it to the pumpkin milk. Alternatively, you can brew an espresso directly into the milk.

Enjoy Fall with Equiano Coffee

No matter how you like to drink your cup of java, Equiano Coffee has you covered. We offer gourmet beans from farms around the globe. We take our role as roaster seriously and work to build close relationships with coffee farmers in Africa, Asia, and South America.

If you’re near Eugene, OR, join us in the tasting room to try some different options. And if you aren’t nearby, you can shop online to have all this goodness delivered to your home or office.