Your favorite blends of flavored coffee, from classic french vanilla, to tart caramel apple, to rich hazelnut, are delicious. But how are they really created? It’s not exactly a secret, but remains an overlooked part of the preparation process. Artisan blends and big brands have a similar processes, balanced between both an intuitive art and an exacting science.
Many connoisseurs will argue that only brands with low-quality beans add flavors to their mixes, but the additions off nuanced flavorings create a blend of coffee that otherwise wouldn’t be achievable through modifying flavor-dependent variables, like environmental conditions, alone.
The Beginning: All About The Beans
Flavored coffee blends begin with the same process as all regular blends: beans, and a good roasting. This requires that the manufacturer carefully monitor the degree of roasting to control the balance between added flavor and roast darkness.
The industry standard for flavored coffee beans are a medium to brown color. This is because with a bean that’s been toasted too deeply or too mildly, it’s likely that the flavor added would yield either overwhelming or flat-tasting results.
Finding Middle Ground: Flavoring
The perfect blend of flavored coffee requires that food scientists and manufacturers consider all variables of the bean, such as roast level, bean origin, and acidity.
In order to achieve a blend with a distinct taste such as creme brulee or coconut, producers apply the chosen flavor oils to roasted beans during the mixing process. This part of the process allows the oils to be infused slowly to ensure the flavor oils are distributed consistently among the coffee beans.
The standard amount of flavoring oils added during the mixing processes are usually between 2%-3%. However, the mystery behind recipe blends are dependent on how much of the flavoring oils are added, meaning that deliciously formulated flavored coffee still needs to be determined by trial and error.
The End: Packaging
Happily ever after for flavored coffee, and coffee beans in general, greatly depend on how the beans will be packaged and preserved. The conversation about whether you should choose to grind your own beans or purchase pre-ground coffee is a topic for another day.
That said, most of the time finished products need to be carefully packaged to prevent exposure to oxygen, which can disrupt the freshness of the beans and flavor oils.
Many consumers aren’t aware of the process required to manufacture their favorite flavored coffees. Now that you’re familiar with the process, you can focus on determining which roasters provide the best quality beans, which are the foundation of any great cup of joe.