I decided a nice holiday treat would be home flavored coffee beans. I did a bit of research and found this nice post on several ways to naturally flavor coffee.
I tried the whole bean method. I mixed four whole cinnamon sticks in with about 1 1/2 cups of beans and sealed them in a mason jar. In another jar I tried one quarter cup of shelled hazelnuts with one cup of coffee beans.
The morning after, I pulled some beans from the cinnamon jar to make two cups of coffee. They had only been sitting overnight. There was little or no cinnamon flavor. Even after a couple more days, there was no significant flavor to the hazelnut beans, though the cinnamon coffee had a nice aroma and a trace of cinnamon flavor.
I hypothesized that the flavorings needed to be crushed to expose the oils. Perhaps the exterior surface of the nuts and cinnamon sticks had oxidized enough to prevent transferring any flavor.
I crushed the hazelnuts with the flat edge of a cleaver. For the cinnamon sticks, I used a rolling pin. I could immediately smell the wonderful aroma of the cinnamon as I crushed the sticks, and my hopes of infusing some of that flavor improved.
The next morning, I tried a cup of both the flavored coffees. A few small bits of cinnamon and hazelnut made it into each batch, but it was almost all coffee bean.
The cinnamon coffee was the most fragrant. You could smell cinnamon on the beans, in the ground, and in the brewed coffee. There was a mild cinnamon flavor to the coffee, pleasant but not dominating.
For the hazelnut, the affect on aroma and taste was negligible. The grounds smelled like coffee; the brew tasted like coffee.
Works for Me
After three days the crushed cinnamon had infused the coffee beans with a wonderful aroma. The flavor was good, but still more subtle than you might find in a store or coffee shop cinnamon brew. You can add some flakes of the cinnamon to the grinder if subtlety is not your thing.
With the nuts, I actually had to put some crushed hazelnuts into the grinder along with the beans. The result was coffee with a nice aroma and flavor, without the sweetness of a flavored syrup or creamer. I suspect you’d get similar results with other nuts.
One note: I had to partially disassemble my grandfather’s hand grinder and brush it clean after putting hazelnuts through it. You might want to grind the nuts in a food processor and then mix them with the coffee before brewing.
Overall, I had a lot of fun experimenting with making flavored coffee at home. I wouldn’t do it every day, but it is definitely a nice treat for the holidays.
By the way, I brewed all of this coffee using a pour-over method and Chemex filters. More on that next month!