Flavoring coffee with spices and nuts is a tradition as old as the coffee itself. But flavored coffee beans have become possible only in recent years due to advances in artificial flavoring. They are made by soaking the coffee beans in flavoring oils right after roasting. The coffee bean acts like a sponge and absorbs the flavors. These flavors can be almost anything you can imagine. From more traditional flavors such as chocolate, cinnamon, clove, chicory, vanilla, hazelnut, etc. to more experimental flavors such as bacon, French toast, bananas and the ridiculousness that is ‘pumpkin spice’. A medium roast Arabica bean is a good candidate for adding flavors. The oils are mixed with a solvent and then the freshly roasted beans are mixed with it. The solvent is volatile and evaporates, leaving the flavoring oil behind. The coffee is then sealed and packed in a container without any oxygen.
Flavored coffee beans can help maintain the flavor for a long time because even if the coffee loses its original flavor, the oils remain and the consumer is none the wiser. This also means that a lot of roasters use flavorings to make low-grade coffee more sellable. Cost considerations also make it the standard practice to use synthetic chemicals instead of natural oils for flavoring coffee beans.
That’s why most coffee lovers don’t bother with flavored beans. For them, the natural authentic flavors of the coffee are more than enough. They look for other ways of flavoring coffee. For example, certain regions of the world produce coffee that has a subtle but unique natural flavor, like woody, earthy, nutty or fruity flavors. You can also add milk, sugar, and spices to flavor your cup of coffee without going for flavored coffee beans.
Instant coffee manufacturers have now realized how bad their coffee tastes and so they see artificial flavoring to be their savior moving into the future. Now you can find instant coffee with interesting flavors that have been added to the freeze-dried coffee extract. For the layman who doesn’t know much about coffee, this is a great innovation that allows him to have nice coffee that can be made easily and cheaply. But the coffee connoisseurs won’t go near a packet of instant coffee no matter how many artificial flavors are added to it.
Some innovative entrepreneurs have also come up with flavored coffee filters! These are filters that have flavored oils in them and can give an extra flavor to any coffee. So people can use their favorite coffee beans to get a cup of coffee that has an extra flavor added to it.