How to make flavored coffee and espresso drinks

Many coffee aficionados believe that coffee should be enjoyed in its purest form, black and unembellished. However, people have been adding flavors to this favorite hot beverage for hundreds of years. Arab tribesmen, for example, have been brewing their coffee with grated cardamom as far back as the thirteenth century. And in 1683, a man named Franz Georg Kolschitzky opened the first coffee house in Vienna specializing in a coffee that was sweetened and milky.

You can buy pre-flavored coffee beans to brew at home, but many experts recommend that you use alternative methods to give flavor to your coffee. One reason for adding your own flavorings is because the oils used on pre-flavored beans can stick to your coffee-making equipment. These oils can be nearly impossible to wash out of your grinder, drip coffeemaker, or French-press and can alter the taste of subsequent batches of coffee.

Also, many coffee producers use their lesser-quality beans for flavored coffees since the flavoring often masks the inferior attributes of substandard coffee. If you spice up your coffee and espresso drinks at home, you can control the quality of all ingredients used to make your special brew.

Making your own flavored coffee at home is easy with just a little know-how. In contrast to pre-flavored coffees, you can add as much or as little flavor as you desire when you flavor your coffee at home. There are two basic methods for introducing flavor to coffee, brewing the flavor directly with your coffee and stirring in a flavor once it is already brewed.

Brew-Ins

Certain ingredients can be added to the filter of your automatic drip machine along with your coffee grounds. Cinnamon is particularly tasty, and some believe that it helps to round out the flavors in a lower-quality bean. In addition to cinnamon, nutmeg or cardamom can be ground up with your beans and brewed for a warm and spicy pot of coffee.

If you are partial to nut flavored coffees, take a handful of your favorite roasted nuts, grind them up with your coffee beans and brew. This creates a more subtle, nutty taste without the chemical tinge that you may experience with an artificially flavored coffee. If you would like to try something a bit different, you can add orange zest to your ground beans for a fragrant, fruity beverage.

If you prefer to use a French-press for brewing your coffee, you can add a multitude of flavors to the grounds. When adding spices such as cinnamon, avoid grating them too finely or they can clog up the plunger. It is better to simply break a cinnamon stick into a couple of pieces, and drop them into the bottom of your French-press with your coffee grounds prior to pouring in the water. You can also add any combination of cardamom, cloves, nutmeg, roasted nuts and orange peel.

Stir-Ins

One advantage of stirring in the flavor rather than brewing it in is that you can adjust the flavor per cup so that everyone can have a drink tailored to his or her liking. The most popular type of flavoring is syrup. There are many excellent brands of Italian syrup on the market with a massive assortment of flavors available ranging from simple vanilla to spicy gingerbread. When adding syrup to your favorite cup of coffee or espresso drink, stir a spoonful into the hot beverage before adding milk.

This will not only amplify the aroma, but the sugars in the syrup will dissolve more easily in the hot coffee and flavor the drink more evenly. As with any type of flavoring, you can adjust the amount you add based on your own personal taste. Keep in mind that many of these syrups have high sugar content, so your coffee will already be sweetened.

Use other ingredients from your kitchen to add interest to your coffee. A spoonful of ice cream can make a hot cup of strong coffee more temperate and creamy. Chocolate syrup or cocoa powder or can be mixed in for a chocolaty beverage. If you would like something a bit more refreshing, a few drops of peppermint extract can be mixed in to your favorite coffee or espresso drink. Vanilla sugar is delicious sprinkled on top of a drink or stirred in as an alternative to regular sugar.

Liquors and spirits are popular stir-ins for coffee and espresso drinks. Irish Cream Liquor, Kahlua, whiskey, cognac, brandy, rum as well as some fruit and nut flavored liquors are often used to make indulgent evening drinks. There are some classic coffee recipes that call for alcohol such as Irish Coffee and Italian Coffee.

Irish Coffee

Ingredients:
Irish whiskey to taste
sugar to taste
¾ glass of black coffee
1-2 tbsp heavy cream

Directions:
Warm a glass, and pour in the desired amount of Irish whiskey. Add coffee and some sugar to taste. Pour cream over the back of a chilled spoon; this helps keep the cream from mixing directly with coffee mixture, giving it a nice layered appearance.

Italian Coffee

Ingredients:
5 oz coffee
½ oz amaretto
½ oz Kahlua
½ oz whipped cream
sugar to taste

Directions:
Pour coffee into a glass until it is ¾ full. Stir in the amaretto and Kahlua and sweeten if desired. Top off with the whipped cream.

Try these suggestions at home, and treat yourself with an exceptional, morning caffeine fix or a lush and relaxing evening drink. With a bit of trial and error, you can make flavored coffee and espresso drinks at home made to your own specifications. Enjoy.

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