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Nutmeg in Coffee: Should You Try It?

coffee and spices-nutmeg

If you’re looking for a way to spice up your coffee – literally – nutmeg should be high on your list of things to try. Nutmeg is a potent spice that most people associate with cold, wintry days, and it’s surprisingly good in coffee. Purists will wrinkle their nose at the blasphemous thought of adding nutmeg to coffee, but they’ll also be missing out on a tasty treat that can give old beans new life or add intrigue and nuance to your favorite coffee beverage.

In this article, we’ll give you a quick explanation of why you should try putting nutmeg in your coffee, starting with some background information about nutmeg and concluding with a few of our favorite recipes. Let’s go!

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What is Nutmeg?

Nutmeg is the seed of the fruit from an evergreen tree indigenous to Indonesia called myristica fragrans. These trees thrive in warm, humid climates and are grown in tropical countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, Grenada, and Sri Lanka specifically to produce nutmeg.

Culinarily speaking, nutmeg has a warming quality that works equally well in sweet and savory dishes depending on the culture and desired effect. Many Indian recipes use ground nutmeg to season meat, while European cuisine regularly adds nutmeg to baked goods and desserts.

Nutmeg is often sold ground or grated, and virtually all recipes call for one or the other version. Whole nutmegs are difficult to find and generally less useful than the pre-ground variety.

Why is Nutmeg Good in Coffee?

Nutmeg is a primary ingredient in many mulled wine and cider recipes and one of the flavors that Western society associates strongly with autumn. Spiced rum and punch also usually feature nutmeg, and it is the nutmeg that gives them some of their characteristic warming tingliness that people love. If you’ve had spiced rum or cider and like the general flavor and mouthfeel, the chances are good that you’ll also be a fan of nutmeg in coffee.

Image Credit: scym, Pixabay

It might seem strange that a spice often used to season meat can also taste good in coffee, but it’s true. Nutmeg is very versatile and blends nicely with the flavors in medium and dark roasted coffee despite having a powerful taste. Turkish coffee is one of the most popular versions of spiced coffee, and some recipes include nutmeg in the spice blend.

What Kind of Coffee Should You Use With Nutmeg?

Our recommendation is to start with medium or dark roasted coffee. Light roasts have brighter, fruity flavor profiles that clash with nutmeg and produce a strange, muddy mess of flavors. By contrast, medium and dark roasts are more chocolatey and nutty and typically blend harmoniously with nutmeg.

One of our favorite uses of nutmeg in coffee is to revitalize old, stale beans that otherwise would be a chore to drink. Sometimes we forget about a bag of coffee, and by the time we realize it, it’s gone stale. Old coffee beans make flavorless coffee at best and bitter, harsh-tasting coffee at worst. Whenever we have an old bag of coffee beans lying around that we don’t want to waste, we break out the nutmeg and give them a new lease on life.

Simple Recipe

To start, we’re going to present a bare-bones recipe to get you started. This isn’t so much a recipe as it is a single measurement, but still.

Image credit: bark on Flickr, licensed under CC 2.0
  • 1 regular cup of coffee – medium or dark roast preferred
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Make an ordinary-strength cup of coffee using your favorite brew method. There are no rules, and whatever you usually make should work well. Choose a medium or dark roast if you have an option.
  • Add 1/4 teaspoon of ground nutmeg and stir vigorously. Make sure there are no clumps and that the nutmeg dissolves completely.
  • Add milk and sugar to taste. We recommend trying your coffee before you add milk or sugar, even if you usually take your coffee with them since the nutmeg drastically changes the flavor, and you might like it just fine black.

Advanced Recipe

Now we’ll spice things up even more – sorry, we couldn’t resist the pun. This recipe is slightly more complicated, but not by much. It’s our go-to recipe when we’re craving a cup of spiced coffee.

coffee with heart

  • 1 regular cup of coffee – medium or dark roast preferred
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (or less to taste)
  • 1 cinnamon stick as garnish (optional)
  • Just like in the simple recipe, make an ordinary-strength cup of coffee.
  • Add 1/4 teaspoon of ground nutmeg and ground cinnamon. Stir until the spices dissolve completely.
  • Add at most 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract. Some people prefer a few drops, while others like using the full 1/2 teaspoon. An entire 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract is quite a lot and could be too strong for some people. Experiment with how much vanilla you use until you find the right amount for you.
  • Garnish with a cinnamon stick if you’re feeling extra spicy.

This recipe isn’t purely a nutmeg coffee recipe, but even with a one-to-one ratio of cinnamon to nutmeg, the nutmeg will still dominate the flavor. We love making spiced coffee to help us stay warm in the heart of winter.

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Nutmeg is surprisingly delicious in coffee whether you use it by itself or as part of a larger spice ensemble. If you like spiced rum, spiced cider, and mulled wine, nutmeg in coffee is something you should try. Start by following the simple recipe and if that goes well, consider upping the ante and going for the full spiced coffee recipe. Both feature nutmeg and are excellent options to add an extra kick to your favorite coffee.


Featured Image: terrapp, Pixabay


Sean Brennan

Sean’s obsession with coffee started when he received his first French press as a gift almost ten years ago. Since then, his love of coffee – and the number of coffee gadgets he owns – has grown considerably. A scientist by training, there is no stone he has left unturned in the never-ending quest for the perfect cup of coffee. He has spent many hours tuning his pour-over technique, thinking about how to best compare grind quality, and worrying about whether the Nicaraguan or Kenyan beans will make the best cold brew. These days he favors the Hario V60, and starts each day by hand grinding his coffee before enjoying a cup prepared with care and attention to detail.

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