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7 Surprising Ways to Add Extra Flavor to Your Coffee: A Quick Guide

iced coffee with whipped cream

Even though milk and sugar are normal additives to coffee in the U.S., other countries enjoy adding different flavors to coffee. Cinnamon in Mexico, lemon juice in Portugal, and a blend of spices in Morocco — these are just a few things people around the world add to their coffee.

If you love flavored coffee, you have a few options for getting that taste right at home. The first is to simply buy coffee that’s already flavored, and we have a whole list of ones that we recommend. You can also buy (or make) coffee syrups to add flavor, just like they do at Starbucks. You can find our recommendations for the best ones here.

However, some flavored coffees and syrups have certain components that you might not want in your coffee on a regular basis. If this is the case, don’t worry — we’ve made an entire list of different and natural additives. Read on for our list of seven surprising ways you can add extra flavor to your coffee.

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The 7 Ways to Add Extra Flavor To Your Coffee

1. Spices

Image Credit: Mareefe, Pixabay

Our first option for adding extra flavor to your coffee is spices. Adding spices to your coffee is an inexpensive and easy way to turn up the flavor. Here are a few of our favorites:

Add a cinnamon stick to the pot as you brew your coffee, or add a sprinkle of grounds to your cup. It also tastes great sprinkled over latte foam.

Nutmeg adds an earthiness with a hint of sweetness. A sprinkle on the foam of your latte is a delicious way to enjoy it. Cardamom is the dominant spice in a chai latte. A little goes a long way, so be sure to just use a sprinkle.

Ginger is spicier than you might expect, and you can either add fresh slices to your cup or just a sprinkle of ground ginger. Star anise adds a sweet, licorice-type flavor to coffee. You can add the pods to your coffee grounds as you brew, for a hint of intense flavor.

Clove is another spice that will make you think of a chai latte. You can add a few of them to ground coffee before brewing for a touch of sweetness. Add dried lavender flowers to your ground coffee to up the floral taste. This is especially good with Ethiopian coffee.

Moroccan Spiced Coffee

For a taste of coffee spiced the way they do in Morocco, add cardamom, black pepper, cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg to your coffee grounds before brewing.

Qahwa Coffee from Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia has a spiced coffee called Qahwa that is worth trying. It’s coffee brewed with cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, saffron, and ginger.

2. Extracts

bottles of vanilla extract and dry vanilla beans on table
Image Credit: Africa Studio, Shutterstock

Want to add extra flavor to coffee without the spices? You can also experiment with any extracts you have in your pantry to add flavor to coffee. A few classic choices are vanilla, almond, and peppermint.

An easy way to make vanilla-flavored coffee is to add a splash of vanilla extract to your cup, or you can even combine it with milk or half-and-half to make a delicious vanilla latte.

Almond extract offers a sweet, nutty flavor to coffee, which is particularly delicious when blended with milk or coconut milk to make a latte. Peppermint extract is a stronger flavor, so a tiny drop is all you need. This makes a fantastic flavoring around the holidays.

3. Citrus

coffee and orange juice drink
Image Credit: gowithstock, Shutterstock

Citrus may seem like an odd flavor combination with coffee, but when added to iced coffee, it can be quite refreshing. Try adding the peels of lemon or lime to coffee, especially cold brew.

If you’d like to try drinking coffee the way they do in Portugal, then make a mazagran. Start with freshly-brewed espresso, and add a splash of lemon juice or lemon soda. Serve over ice.

Mazagran (Delicious Lemon Coffee)
Mazagran is a cold espresso drink that originally comes from Algeria, though it’s now much more popular in Portugal. It’s essentially coffee lemonade, combining citrusy acidity with the bold flavor of espresso. The lemon juice was originally added to improve the flavor of low-end coffee beans. But don’t hesitate to use your pricier beans -- this tasty drink won’t ruin their flavor.
Try this delicious recipe!
mazagran lemon coffee in cups with bottle of honey

4. Butter

buttered coffee
Image Credit: Hajai Photo, Shutterstock

Next on our list of ways to add extra flavor to your coffee is butter. You may have heard of bulletproof coffee, which adds fat and oil to coffee to provide lasting energy. Butter can be a great substitute for creamer, as it also adds richness to coffee.

5. Chocolate

dark chocolate
Image Credit: Alexander Stein, Pixabay

Love mocha lattes? You’re not alone, as this is a favorite treat of many. Because coffee often already has flavor notes of chocolate, it makes a wonderful pairing.

Try adding melted chocolate to your freshly-brewed coffee, especially dark chocolate, or drizzle chocolate syrup on the foam of your latte.

If you’d like more chocolate flavor without the added sweetness, then try adding cocoa nibs to the coffee beans in your grinder. Brew them together for a chocolatey treat that will knock your socks off!

6. Sweet & Creamy Decadence

Honey Spiced Latte
Image Credit: Maria Shumova, Shutterstock

If you love sweet coffee, you might enjoy creating decadent coffee treats with ingredients you have at home, such as:

  • Ice cream. Ice cream adds both creaminess and sweetness to coffee.
  • Honey. The rich depth of honey adds much more flavor than white sugar.
  • Coconut milk. Coconut milk is a dairy-free alternative that brings a special sweetness to coffee.
  • Sweetened condensed milk. This adds both sweetness and creaminess to coffee and is a favorite in certain countries.

Both Vietnam and Spain have coffee drinks that feature sweetened condensed milk (the definition of extra flavor!). In Vietnam, the cà phê đá is made by filtering coarsely ground coffee over sweetened condensed milk and ice for a strong and sweet iced coffee. In Spain, the cafe bombon is made with equal parts black coffee and sweetened condensed milk for an intensely sweet treat.

7. Alcohol

Image Credit: Aleksandrs Muiznieks, Shutterstock

If you’re looking for a coffee drink to serve at your next party, liqueurs added to coffee can make a delicious flavor pairing. The right alcohol will add extra flavor to your coffee — while making your day a little more fun. A few of our favorites include:

  • Rum. This adds a natural sweetness to the coffee.
  • Whiskey. This is for those who like their coffee to burn all the way down.
  • Kahlúa. What better to add to coffee than more coffee in the form of a liqueur?
  • Bourbon. This adds sweetness before the burn.
  • Flavored liqueurs, such as hazelnut or orange. This is similar to using extracts, only these probably won’t be best added to your morning coffee — unless you’re on vacation.

You have no doubt heard of Irish coffee, which combines coffee, Irish whiskey, sugar, and cream to form a delicious drink. The Germans have something similar, called a pharisäer, which blends coffee, rum, and sugar. It’s topped with whipped cream and chocolate shavings, making it a truly indulgent treat.

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Final Thoughts

There are so many flavorful coffee drinks that are enjoyed around the world. We hope our list of seven surprising ways to add extra flavor to coffee has inspired you to experiment with ingredients you have on hand to create your own delicious coffee drink.

Did you find your new favorite coffee addition on this list, or do you feel inspired to invent your own? Coffee is delicious, but your tastebuds will love it if you add extra flavor to your morning cup. Enjoy!

Featured Image Credit: akkarawat jaipech, Shutterstock


Kate MacDonnell

Kate is a lifelong coffee enthusiast and homebrewer who enjoys writing for coffee websites and sampling every kind of coffee known to man. She’s tried unusual coffees from all over the world and owns an unhealthy amount of coffee gear.

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