Flavored coffee is becoming more and more popular every day, in spite of negative reactions of the classic amateurs of coffee. In this article we cover:
- What flavored coffee is
- Is it just fashion or a new market and taste habit?
- What are the key factors that influence the quality
- Tips to recognize if we are in front of a 'best flavored coffee' or not.
WHAT FLAVORED COFFEE IS?
In its simplest definition, flavored coffee is coffee with additional flavors added to the beans to give a specific taste, different than the classic organic taste offered by the coffee 'alone'. Flavored coffee is made by adding flavored oils to the beans after they have been roasted and before they have been ground.
JUST FASHION OR NEW TASTE HABIT?
You may like it or not, but flavored coffee is today synonymous with gourmet coffee.
Flavoring coffee is not just a 'new fashion', and it is a very old habit as well. Flavored coffees have been used for centuries: Arabians began flavoring their coffees with cardamom hundreds of years ago; Africans experimented with citrus flavours; and South Americans enjoyed a hint of cinnamon in their cups.
Flavored coffee as we know it today began its development in the 60's, with the spread of flavored tea from Europe. But it was with the specialty coffee boom of the 1990s that the overall interest in exotic flavours increased so remarkably.
Flavored coffee is a controversial topic among roasters and retailers. Real coffee connoisseur do not like it at all. But business is business, and despite a sometimes less-than-enthusiastic reception, flavored coffees are continuing to penetrate deeper into the market, as a result of exposure from large coffee shops, restaurants, and retailers of all kinds.
Today we can choose from a wide array of flavored coffees, with attractive names like 'Amaretto', 'French Vanilla', 'Hazelnut', 'Chocolate Swiss', etc.
Flavored coffee has therefore become a very trendy drink, so popular that according to some estimates one out of four Americans (25%) drinks a flavoured coffee at least twice a month!
KEY FACTORS THAT INFLUENCE QUALITY
Three main factors influence the quality of the best flavoured coffee:
- the selection of coffee beans
- the quality of flavors
- the process used.
Coffee beans: the type of beans used to make flavored coffee greatly impacts the taste of the finished product. Arabica beans are most frequently used for creating the best flavored coffee, due to their low levels of acidity and bitterness.
Flavors: the coffee roaster must choose between 100% natural flavours, artificial or 'Nature Identical' flavorings. Although the flavor name on packages may be the same ('French Vanilla'), the product inside is of course very different.
The Process involves the appropriate amount of flavoring to be used, the chosen roast level, and how and when the flavours are applied. A more in depth view about how the best flavoured coffee is produced will be covered in another article, 'How Best Flavored Coffees Are Produced'.
HOW TO RECOGNIZE THE BEST FLAVORED COFFEE
To help you make the most of coffee flavorings, here are some final tips to help you buy only the best flavored coffee beans.
Be sure you are buying from a reputable coffee roaster, to ensure your beans and flavorings are of a high quality. Firstly, verify that coffee beans are high-quality. Secondly, checks if flavor is made with 100% natural ingredients.
Some roasters may be adding flavor to low-quality beans thinking that their low-quality will be disguised by the flavoring. About 75 percent of taste is experienced through the nose, so the aroma makes for much of the flavored coffee experience, but best flavored coffee should not overdo it: the flavor should complement your coffee, rather than overwhelm it. The ideal flavor should mask some of the harsh notes of the coffee yet not interfere with its aromatic characteristics.
The degree of roasting determines the depth of flavour: the darker the roast, the heavier the flavor. If flavoring is added to beans which have too mild a roast, the coffee lacks significant flavor characteristics, and a flat-tasting beverage results. If the roast is too dark, the added flavor is covered by the taste of the beans. For example, a Vanilla flavor can be lost on a French roast, because the robustness of the bean may overwhelm the sweet creamy tones of the flavor.
Finally, flavored coffee should be stored as closely as possible to room temperature.
Many black coffee drinkers dislike flavored coffees, because they cannot fully taste the 'native' coffee flavor. While according to estimators, flavoring coffee is just making coffee even more appealing, by adding complimentary flavors.
Many coffee aficionados turn up their nose at the thought of adding flavorings to their beloved black beverage. On the other way, the taste habits of those who like flavored coffee are not much different than the ones who say 'no, thanks' to flavored, but then drink their coffee with milk or sugar (or both...).
As a matter of fact, whether you are a connoisseur of black or a lover of flavored, best flavored coffee is here to stay.
For two simple reasons. Consumers like it. And coffee business professionals like it as well, since they have seen the opportunity to create new profitable market niches, with higher margins than the traditional coffee.