November 14, 2022 6 min read
Coffee connoisseurs: Chances are you’ve craved a cup of flavorfully sweet French Vanilla or Hazelnut coffee. But, unlike the natural-growing vanilla beans and hazelnuts, these complex flavors don’t occur naturally within coffee cherries.
That’s because, after the roasting process, experienced brewers add flavor compounds to beans to create new and unique flavored coffee.
The process of flavoring coffee beans is a science — it depends on the bean, growth characteristics, roasting temperatures, and syrup incorporation. Here we will explain exactly how each variable comes together to create a delicious, full-bodied cup of flavored coffee.
Before we dig into creating flavored beans, we need to discuss how coffee is grown and harvested. Similar to cocoa beans, coffee beans are not beans at all. Instead, they are seeds produced from coffee cherries.
The growing conditions significantly impact these delicate seeds — atmosphere, soil type, and elevation can all alter the natural flavor profile of coffee beans. For optimal growth, coffee cherries should be planted in warm climates.
There are four distinct flavored coffee beans: Arabica, Robusta, Liberica, and Excelsa. Each bean will taste differently and bring unique coffee flavors to your cup.
As you can imagine, Liberica and Excelsa whole beans are rarely (if ever) used for flavored coffee. The complex flavor profiles clash with popular syrups like toasted marshmallow, hazelnut, or vanilla bean.
Once the coffee cherries are ripe and picked fresh from the vine, it’s time to remove the coffee seeds. There are two main methods for extracting beans: Wet and dry.
As you can see, there are a lot of steps to creating a cup of coffee! But how did humankind start roasting the beans in the first place? According to Ethiopian legend, we can thank Kaldi, the goat herder, and his dancing goats.
One day, Kaldi took his goats to highland pastures near a local monastery. Typically, Kaldi’s goats were slow-moving and calm — but on this otherwise average day, he observed his goats “dancing” on their hind legs, full of excitement and vigor.
Kaldi observed the goats and noticed they were eating red berries from a nearby bush. While most people would never sample an unknown berry, Kaldi decided to try this magic berry himself.
The result? Kaldi felt energized.
Kaldi took the berries to the local monastery, but the monks were concerned these fruits were the Devil’s work. They threw the berries and beans straight into the fire to dispose of them. But the delicious aroma of roasted coffee cherries quickly grabbed the monks’ attention, so they scooped up what was left of the berries in the fire and tried to rehydrate them in water.
Sound familiar? The monks dubbed this drink “heaven-sent” because it kept everyone awake during their nightly prayers. This created the modern-day cup of coffee. Coffee roasting has come a long way since the monks threw coffee cherries in the fire! Nowadays, the harvesting, roasting, and brewing process all comes down to an exact science.
Now that we’ve covered the basics about harvesting coffee cherries and the differences between the four types of coffee beans, it’s time to answer the fundamental question: Exactly how is flavored coffee made?
It’s a delicate process — coffee beans are monitored for quality control throughout roasting and packaging. Some beans may experience over or under-roasting and will be removed to ensure each customer gets a great cup of joe.
The Arabica bean is most commonly used for gourmet flavored coffee because of its smooth flavor profile and lack of bitterness (present in other beans, like Robusta). That’s why Mystic Monk Coffee uses 100% Arabica beans to create bold, embodied flavored coffees.
The roasting process is a science: You need to know exactly what temperature and how long a bean needs to roast to develop the optimal flavor.
While no roastery will give away their exact step-by-step guide for roasting beans, here are a few details about what happens before adding the flavored syrup:
As you can see, roasting beans can be a time-consuming trial-and-error process. But without a proper roast, your coffee brew won’t have a full-bodied, rich flavor.
Before brewers can add flavoring, the beans should have a glossy finish and need to cool from the roasting process. If the beans aren’t cooled, the syrup will be dulled, meaning consumers like you won’t be able to enjoy the delicious flavor compounds.
After the roasting, the flavored syrup is slowly incorporated into the beans. To determine how much flavor to add, you’ll need to know the total weight of your coffee beans.
Once you’ve got the weight of your whole beans, add 3% of the flavoring to the roasted beans. If you have 100 pounds of coffee, add 3 pounds of flavored syrup to the mixture. Adding more than 3% of flavoring to coffee beans will produce a chemical taste in your flavor coffee which is not ideal and can ruin even the best beans.
The flavor is spread over the beans, and the coffee beans are rotated for 15 to 30 minutes. This process provides a complete and even coating over each whole bean. While not impossible, it’s rare for most roasters to incorporate flavoring into coffee grounds as this normally results in uneven flavor profiles (meaning your cup of coffee may taste different each time you brew). However, at Mystic Monk Coffee, we’ve developed a special method to gently apply flavor evenly and smoothly to the coffee grounds.
Once the flavor has been fully coated on the beans, it’s vital to vacuum-seal package them as soon as possible. When flavored coffee beans are exposed to high amounts of oxygen, the bean can begin to break down and ruin the taste.
Our packaged coffee is flushed with nitrogen for freshness at Mystic Monk Coffee. This process removes the oxygen from each bag and prevents deterioration before it enters your home.
Quick tip: For maximum freshness, consider investing in a coffee vault. These containers store fresh coffee and prevent excess oxygen exposure to your flavored coffee so you can brew a smooth, tasty cup of joe from home.
When Kaldi and his monk friends discovered magic red berries, they had no idea this heaven-sent drink would create one of the most beloved beverages in history: Coffee.
Creating flavored coffee beans is complex — the atmosphere, growth characteristics, harvesting method, and roasting techniques affect how a coffee bean tastes. Once roasted to perfection, roasteries flavor coffee beans with common spices and syrups to create new and unique tastes.Luckily, Mystic Monk Coffee has perfected adding flavors during the roasting process. Try one of our flavored coffees today and experience the bold and rich flavors for yourself!