Flavored Coffee Beans

Written by Sarah Provost
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Flavored coffee beans are a relatively recent phenomenon, though flavored coffee is not. The Arabs who originally cultivated coffee often added spices such as cinnamon or cardamom to their brew. The combination of chocolate and coffee was the inspired practice of Europeans in the 1600s.

The modern practice of adding flavor to the coffee beans themselves before brewing, however, is a child of modern chemistry. Flavored coffee beans were first produced in the 1970s, and began with chemical imitations of established flavor combinations. Amaretto, Irish whiskey and the hazelnut flavored Frangelico were often added to coffee, so those flavors were among the first to be added to the beans.

The flavored coffee beans are extremely aromatic, which is both a delight and a problem. The artificial flavors must be very strong to sustain themselves through the process of shipping, grinding, and brewing. Many coffee roasters refuse to carry flavored coffee beans because they overwhelm the more natural aromas of other coffees. The flavoring agents also cling to the burrs or blades of grinders, which means they must be meticulously cleaned or all subsequent coffee ground will be tainted.

Flavored Coffee Beans: The Great Divide

There are three reasons why many roasters refuse to process flavored coffee beans. The overwhelming aroma and contamination of grinders have already been mentioned. The third reason is that they just don't taste very good. Though the first sips might be pleasant, almost all coffees made from flavored beans have an unpleasant aftertaste. There are many ways to add your own flavorings after the coffee is brewed, and this would seem to be highly preferable.

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