How do they get those in there? Photo: Erin Meister.
There are some things in this world that were meant to taste like hazelnut. Actual hazelnuts, for instance, and also Aunt Sylvia's famous holiday pralines. Maybe even a hot cocoa or a cookie batter that has a dash of extract in it.
But what about coffee beans?
Flavored coffee is and will likely always be a loaded topic; It's often considered the final qualifier when separating the proverbial men from the boys of caffeinated beverages. "Is it really so bad?," you might ask yourself. "What's all the hubbub?"
Read on after the jump to find out.
Think of it this way: Does a quality butcher marinate his best cuts of meat in soy sauce before laying them out for sale? Do any world-class vintners reserve their best grapes for wine coolers? So too are the finest coffee beans kept out of the reaches of any chemical flavoring process. If there's nothing to hide, why bother disguising them with a flavor additive?
So what's in that cup of Snickerdoodle Explosion? (This is actually a flavor of coffee I have seen, sold at a convenience store in Oklahoma City.) Possibly cheaper, lower-grown and lesser-quality beans, maybe even robusta, roasted and coated in any number of chemical flavoring agents (some of which may be natural, others not so much). It's pretty common for the chemicals to actually not taste like much of anything, though they might smell like bananas or Irish cream. Because our senses of smell and taste are so linked, your schnoz could be telling your brain it's tasting something that's not really there.
If you still need a dose of vanilla bean in that morning cup of joe, try adding it to the finished drink instead of the raw materials -- many companies offer organic, kosher and/or sugar-free flavored syrups to squirt into that eye-opener. Better yet, make your own infused simple syrup, and you'll soon be enjoying a homemade Snickerdoodle Explosion, which we all know is the best kind.
What do you think of the flavored-coffee debate? Tell us in the comments.
Erin Meister trains baristas for North Carolina-based Counter Culture Coffee and sporadically maintains the blog Meet the Press Pot from her home in New York City. This is part of a series for the caffeine-addicted.