When It Comes To Flavoring Coffee, There’s The Good, The Bad, And The Lifeboost Way

13 min read JUL 19, 2023

The aroma of a freshly brewed cup of coffee is truly wonderful, reminding your senses of prior sipping experiences, causing your mouth to water and your mind to eagerly anticipate the upcoming sips.

As this familiar, welcomed, aroma wafts through the air, even your memories are heightened, helping you recall warm scenes of sharing sips and sentimentality amongst friends.

And, this is likely why the aromas (and tastes) of many flavored coffee selections are loved by so many.

Bold, robust coffee intermingling with scents and flavors of smooth, velvety vanilla or warm, spicy cinnamon, creamy, confectionery caramel, or rich and decadent chocolate with sweet, juicy strawberries - these scents and many more are often tied to fond memories, and experiencing their aromas and flavors in our coffee takes our sipping sessions to an entirely new level.

Take pumpkin spice flavored coffee, for instance. For me, the tastes and aromas of this brew whisk me away to past autumn scenes. Each sip reminds me of hayrides, crisp, fallen leaves, pumpkin carving, and pie baking memories with my loved ones.

Of course, all nostalgia and sentimentality aside, to put it simply, flavored coffees are also downright delicious.

I mean, many of us already enjoy including flavored syrups, sugars, creams, and more in our brews, so flavoring the coffee itself (prior to brewing) just makes sense, right?

Well, it makes sense unless what’s used to flavor your brew could actually harm your health…

Coffee can be extremely beneficial to your health as this bean’s been proven to boost athletic performance and energy levels, improve cognitive function, prevent multiple diseases, decrease the effects of aging, and much more.

However, just as growing practices and quality can frustrate these benefits, the way in which your coffee is flavored greatly matters in this regard as well.

So today, let’s take a deep dive into the world of coffee flavoring, exploring the good, the bad…and of course the Lifeboost way of adding flavor to coffee beans.

The Origins Of Flavored Coffee


For hundreds of years spices like cinnamon, coriander, ginger, and turmeric have been added to ground coffee during the brewing process for the purpose of adding both flavor and health.

Due to the natural acidity of coffee, ginger and cardamom, for example, were added to aid in digestion.

Then throughout the 1600’s in Europe, as international trade increased, chocolate was introduced as a new flavor that combined perfectly when added to coffee, this experimentation providing a more decadent and confectionery flare.

In Italy, the strong, natural flavors of espresso were corrected by the addition of liqueurs.

And, in some Middle Eastern regions, even adding dried fruit to brewed coffee was a common way to enhance cup contents.

As far as flavored coffees however, or the process of adding flavors to coffee prior to the brewing process, this concept is something that began near the 1970’s.

During this time, higher quality coffee wasn’t as readily available as it is today, so flavorings were added to coffee beans as a way to mask the poor flavor and low quality of the brew.

In other words, such selections were invented because in times past, sipping coffee wasn’t always the morning-making, mood-lifting, powerfully-positive experience we enjoy today.

Even now, for some, the classic bitter taste of coffee (even good quality coffee) isn’t enjoyed by each and every palate, which is why flavored coffee selections continue to be popular amongst those who love these magic beans.

Since nearly 80% of what we think of as taste actually begins through scent receptors within the nose, coffee selections which incorporate fragrances of beloved spices and familiar baking scents send messages to our brains essentially communicating through these aromas that what we’re about to drink is rich, decadent, and dessert-like before we even sip.

But, adding such flavors to coffee isn’t only about masking poor quality brews or taming bitterness.

As those who’ve enjoyed adding spices to the brewing process for many years now can attest, these additions can even enhance the natural flavors found in coffee derived both from the bean’s growing region and roasting times/temps.

Though, do you ever wonder how these (added) fragrances and flavors are incorporated into beloved coffee selections like hazelnut, french vanilla, or more intriguing offerings like pineapple upside down cake coffee?

Unfortunately, this process isn’t always as pure as the Middle Eastern practice of adding cinnamon and cardamom to ground coffee as it’s brewed.

Instead, coffee beans are soaked in these flavors and fragrances.

While soaking in these elements, the beans then absorb their scents and tastes so when you later grind and brew the beans, you experience their flavor/fragrance enhanced transformation.

Many of us recognize the result of this process by the following phrases: “oh that smells amazing,” or simply stated, “mmmmm.”

But, before we “mmmmm,” too much, let’s examine what this flavor and fragrance soak
involves…

Conventional Flavored Coffee

As delicious and good as flavored coffees taste and smell, we’ve got some bad news to share with you here.

First, conventional coffee companies often select old, stale coffee beans as their base for flavored selections.

These beans that have met their storage time limit, are then exposed to chemicals used in the flavoring process that cover up the stale flavor of the old beans while extending their shelf-life in the process.

Second, it is also common for such companies to use a lower quality coffee bean or blend of beans as a base for flavored selections, making these doubly bad for your health.

Both of these bases for flavoring, old or stale coffee beans and low quality beans actually make an incredibly poor base for flavoring as these beans are less porous. This means the flavoring doesn’t soak into the coffee beans as well as a freshly roasted batch.

To combat this problem, some of these companies use an excessive amount of flavoring oil to ensure these additions stick to the beans.

This then causes an added layer of oil to rest on the beans hindering the final product when grinding.

As these oils accumulate on the surface of the bean, when ground, the result is a less powdery or a more pasty consistency. To add, when you’re grinding from the comfort of your own kitchen, this can also cause a build up on your grinder blades, even affecting the grind and flavor of any other beans you grind at a later time.

This can also cause clogs in the brewing process as water isn’t able to freely move through the ground coffee, then resulting in a poor tasting cup of joe.

And, this isn’t the worst of it.

A solvent known as propylene glycol is commonly used in flavoring conventional coffee. This substance helps the flavors attach to the coffee beans, allowing the oils to fully incorporate into them.

In small amounts, the FDA has approved the use of propylene glycol to flavor foods, a substance more commonly known as that which is used in the air-line industry to de-ice airplanes in inclement weather conditions.

Due to its harmful side effects, this solvent has been banned in Europe, the substance having been known to cause skin and eye irritations upon contact.

Propylene glycol can also cause headaches, dizziness, and lightheadedness, especially amongst those working with the solvent to flavor foods (such as coffee) or simply when consumed in large quantities.

Now, imagine these types of oils used on high quality coffee beans.

Some companies get it right when it comes to growing and processing their coffee beans, but when using these types of oils for flavoring, such efforts not only ruin the natural flavors of the coffee beans, but also seemingly squash the benefits obtained from natural growing practices by soaking the beans in harsh, harmful chemicals.

I don’t know about you, but no matter whether this process starts with high or low quality coffee beans, I simply don’t want to consume chemicals in my coffee cup.

Not only are these harmful to your health, they are also responsible for the commonly described metallic or bitter aftertaste in conventionally flavored coffees.

Surely, there has to be a better, cleaner, more natural way to infuse flavor into coffee beans!

Flavoring Coffee The Lifeboost Way


As you might imagine, listing the info above isn’t something I’m all too thrilled to talk about. But now, here, this is something that excites me!

Why? Because I’m a harcore flavor and fragrance fan! I love the deep rich scents offered to us in nature. I love the intense, decadent flavors that, truly, I believe we’re meant to enjoy in life.

Both of these things, aroma and taste, are windows of enjoyment, ways we can deeply experience and savor foods and beverages.

And frankly, I see no reason to cloud these naturally wonderful flavors and aromas with harsh chemicals.

That’s why all of our flavored coffee selections here at Lifeboost are only made with natural extracts and essential oils, the kind you use when baking, the kind that come straight from nature!

To give a more clear picture of this process, let’s compare the information we shared in the above section with how we flavor coffee here at Lifeboost:

First, instead of using stale, old coffee beans as a flavor base, we only flavor freshly roasted coffee beans. This means, as we soak our coffee beans in essential oils and natural flavor extracts, the freshly roasted and therefore more porous beans can easily absorb these fragrances and flavors.

Second, we never incorporate the use of blends as this can degrade the quality of the coffee in general, so we only use our high quality, specialty, single origin, Arabica coffee beans as a base for adding flavor.

This means we don’t have to use extra oils for flavoring. This means you won’t have an overly oily residue on the flavored beans. And, this means the flavored coffee will be perfect for grinding and brewing, resulting in a tasty cup each and every time.

Then, as we only use essential oils and natural baking extracts to flavor our beans, this also means we never use propylene glycol or any other harsh chemical or substance when flavoring our coffee.

Health and high-quality, great-tasting coffee are two of our passions here, so it just doesn’t make sense to us to incorporate organic, sustainable growing practices, to have our farmers hand select only the ripest, best coffee cherries, to spring water wash and meticulously process, and even 3rd party test all of our beans to ensure they do not contain mold, mycotoxins, pesticides, heavy metals, and more…only to soak them in a chemical solvent more commonly known as antifreeze.

Only one word comes to mind when I think of flavoring coffee in that manner: NO!

In fact, by choosing to flavor our coffee with essential oils and baking extracts, we’re not only ensuring the health benefits of our clean, pure coffee remain, we’re also adding more benefits by using such oils.

Did you know essential plant oils are highly beneficial to the health of your body when ingested?

Now, hold on a moment. Not all essential oils are meant to be ingested, so of course we wouldn’t use these on our coffee beans. But, for those considered safe for consumption, consider the following:

Research has proven lavender essential oil to be beneficial in treating anxiety, depression, and sleep problems. Consuming lavender is also known to aid in digestion issues such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and bloating.

You can enjoy the fragrant and tasty addition of lavender oil in our Honey Lavender Latte Coffee.

Vanilla extract and oil is used in many of our flavored coffees from our classic French Vanilla Coffee to many of our kitchen-inspired flavors such as Vanilla Almond Coffee, Boston Cream Donut Coffee, Creme Brulee Coffee, and many more.

Vanilla contains antioxidants which protect against neurodegenerative diseases, inflammation, and cancer. And, using vanilla extracts to flavor coffee and other foods has been found to enhance the perceived sweetness in these foods thereby resulting in a reduction in overall added sugar intake.

Peppermint essential oil is proven to be beneficial for IBS sufferers as it’s been known to provide relief for digestive distress and disorders. The oils of peppermint leaves also contain antiviral, antimicrobial, and antioxidant properties.

Maybe this is why I feel so great after a refreshingly delicious mug of our Peppermint Mocha Coffee?

Ginger essential oil is another powerful digestive aid, but it has also been proven to help relieve headaches, combat respiratory problems, reduce anxiety, and decrease inflammation.

Cinnamon essential oil echoes ginger in many ways, also providing powerful antioxidants and inflammation relief while stimulating the immune system, fighting against heart disease, and reducing blood sugar as well.

These last two oils combine as part of the combination of flavors that make up our Pumpkin Spice Coffee, Holiday Spice Coffee, Gingerbread Latte Coffee, and others.

For the sake of time, we’ll stop there in our list, but overall, what we’ve learned is that you can combine these healthy oils to create a number of delicious combinations resulting in the incredible flavors so many of you…myself included, know and love!

And personally, that’s why I believe the flavored coffees we’ve brought you are so rich, so real, and so incredibly decadent!

Now, let’s add some icing to this incredibly tasty coffee cake…metaphorically speaking, that is.

By using baking extracts and essential oils to flavor our coffee beans, this process adds zero sugar, zero carbs, zero fat, and zero artificial anything!

In other words, zero guilt!

You can indulge in our flavored coffees repeatedly (as long as you’re not adding mounds of high calorie extras) without a single thought to your waistline, blood sugar levels, macros, and more.

Personally, my biggest weakness is sweets.

I could pass on pasta and potatoes, forego fries, and on and on. But…sweets. My achilles.

And, this is why I love our flavored selections all the more!

When I’m craving a decadent chocolate covered peanut butter cup, I pour myself a piping hot cup of our Chocolate Peanut Butter Truffle Coffee.

When I want a rich, chocolatey, minty treat, I simply choose between our Peppermint Mocha Coffee throughout the holiday season or I reach for our Mint Cookies And Cream Coffee.

Our Frosted Cinnamon Roll Coffee, Frosted Carrot Cake Coffee, Frosted Sugar Cookie Coffee, Pineapple Upside Down Cake Coffee, and Birthday Batter Coffee each satisfy my cravings for those desserts I grew up enjoying right from my grandma’s kitchen.

I simply love what we’re gifted through nature.

Not only can we enjoy bold, smooth, clean coffee, but we can also utilize these gifts from nature to add nostalgic and downright delicious flavors to enhance our coffee-enjoying experiences.

Which Do You Prefer?

So then, how do you take your flavored cup of joe?

Do you prefer adding syrups and sauces? I mean, I love these things too from time to time, but on a regular basis they can wreak havoc on our health.

So then, if we’re skipping the abundance of extra add-ins, how about conventionally flavored coffees?

Would you rather sip on freshly brewed, aromatic, flavored low quality, old, stale, heavily soaked, propylene glycol infused coffee?

Or, do you and I enjoy our flavored coffee in similar fashion: single origin, specialty Arabica coffee beans grown sustainably at high elevations, spring water washed, processed, then 3rd party tested for heavy metals, mycotoxins, and more, roasted upon ordering for ultimate freshness, then soaked in natural baking extracts and health-boosting essential oils for unparalleled, rich, and incredible flavor?

Now, that’s what I say calls for true sentiments such as “oh, that smells amazing,” and “mmmmm!”

Check out Lifeboost Coffee Frosted Cinnamon Roll.

Headshot of Becky Livingston Vance
Becky Livingston Vance Content writer

Becky is a mother, educator, and content writer for Lifeboost Coffee. She has had three years’ experience as a writer, and in that time she has enjoyed creatively composing articles and ebooks covering the topics of coffee, health and fitness, education, recipes, and relationships.

References:
https://www.businessinsider.com/why-coffee-always-smells-better-than-it-tastes-2012-9#
https://food52.com/blog/27552-history-of-the-flavored-latte#
https://www.cartacoffee.com/blogs/island-blog/what-is-a-flavored-coffee-bean-and-how-is-it-made#
https://www.coffeereview.com/coffee-reference/coffee-categories/flavored-coffees/introduction-7/
https://www.seriouseats.com/the-dark-side-of-flavored-coffee-how-flavored-coffee-is-made
https://burmancoffee.com/coffee-tea-articles/flavored-coffee-beans-6-things-to-consider/
https://www.borealiscoffee.com/blogs/wiyc/flavors-in-coffee-vs-flavored-coffee#
https://nj.gov/health/eoh/rtkweb/documents/fs/3595.pdf
https://www.euronews.com/green/2019/01/07/the-truth-behind-propylene-glycol#
https://www.greenmatters.com/politics-and-policy/why-is-propylene-banned-in-europe#
https://www.tampabay.com/archive/2002/09/25/do-flavored-coffees-have-more-calories/#
https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/265922#benefits
https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/vanilla-extract-benefits#
https://draxe.com/essential-oils/peppermint-oil-uses-benefits/#
https://draxe.com/essential-oils/cinnamon-oil/
https://draxe.com/essential-oils/ginger-essential-oil/

Drop a Comment

All comments are moderated before being published

Christine Kennedy

I have enjoyed your coffee from the beginning but I have a question that I have always wondered. It’s true that all essential oils and flavorings are not equal. Nothing I have read says you use organic oils and flavorings. Why? What good is it to use organically grown beans and not organic essential oils and spices?
Thank you for a great product but I hope you can truthfully answer this for me.

M Chris Heer

I emailed a comment last week when you had a 20% site wide discount but never heard anything back about the problem. I was trying to get several bags of coffee but it wouldn’t give the site wise discount on everything so I didn’t buy any. I am almost out of coffee now but would like to make the purchase with the discount. What to do?
Chris

Patricia Nelson

Please bring back lavender coffee kcups the best ever!!

Hollis Hodiah

Why don’t you offer a sample tasting of several flavors if not all together so we can choose our favorites…?

Rebecca Westphal

I love your regular coffees but I’m disappointed because you are always out of everything I want…like this frosted cinnamon roll your promoting…not cool. I’ve also been trying to get Almond Amaretto but your always out! Frustrating 😞

Michelle

Hello! You can find all our flavors here! https://lifeboostcoffee.com/collections/flavored-coffee We change out our flavors every few months! We do have an amoretto that will be available starting Sept 1st- Oct 31st. We have Vanilla Almond right now which is very delicious!

Randa Buompensiero

When is my next order? I would like to get the pods instead of just the medium blend. Thank you 😊

Alain Benizri

I like your coffee has a better taste no heart burns

Cheryl Johnston

How can I order flavored coffees? I appreciate d the information regarding the flavoring process. Do you have several flavors at any given time or only single offerings periodically?

Dena Sharpe

Is there any possibility of almond/ amaretto flavored coffee please??

Elaine Carr

Best coffee ever, and worth every penny!

James

Thank you for that information and for being so transparent because I was wondering what process was used to flavor coffee.

Marilyn Reames

I like Peppermint Mocha coffee

Emily Trujillo

Lifeboost is the only coffee I have in the house. I can’t wait for holiday spice to be available again, I’m stocking up this time!

TerrideBerry

This is the BEST coffee I have ever had!! So smooth and delicious. I also enjoy a cup in the afternoons with a scoop of homemade vanilla ice cream. Mmmmm