You Should Flavour Your Coffee With Extracts Instead of Syrups

You Should Flavour Your Coffee With Extracts Instead of Syrups

Half the fun of buying a little drink from a coffee shop lies in the customisation options. Their seemingly endless supply of flavoured syrups lets you create a bespoke treat, and treating yourself is important. But treating yourself can also get expensive, especially if you’re doing it at Starbucks, so it’s worth considering that you don’t need an army of pump bottles to create vanilla, cinnamon, almond, or even coconut lattes at home. You just need extracts.

Extracts are most commonly used in baking, but unless you are hell bent on avoiding imbibing even the tiniest amount of alcohol, there’s no reason you can’t splash them in your coffee to create flavoured drinks on a whim. Doing so lets you enjoy a wide variety of flavours without having to buy or make (and store) a wide variety of syrups.

Though you will still need some sugar, artificial sweetener, or plain simple syrup to make iced beverages, using extracts lets you pump up the flavour without adding more sugar than you’d like, as each ingredient is added separately. If you find pump-bottle syrups on the cloying side, you’ll love the slightly subtle, more natural flavour that extracts bring to your beverage. And, unlike bulky pump bottles, extracts take up very little room in your cabinet, and can also be used to flavour baked goods and ice cream.

I do not recommend adding an extract without some simple syrup, sugar, or other sweetener. Extracts taste pretty gross on their own, but mixing them with a sweetener rounds out and heightens their flavour, making vanilla extract taste more like vanilla (or at least what you think vanilla should taste like, which is sweet).

Brand-wise, I like Watkins for their wide range of flavours, but feel free to use whatever brand you enjoy. Vanilla is the most obvious choice, and you probably already have it in your pantry, but I urge you to try almond, coconut, caramel, cinnamon, or something a little more out there like root beer or a fruity flavour like cherry. If you’re a big fan of the holiday latte standbys, grab a bottle of pumpkin spice or peppermint extract and make your own PSL or peppermint mocha, respectively. (Do not accidentally use peppermint essential oil, unless you like the taste of burning.) I’m also a big fan of Cook’s vanilla powder, which can be used as a one-to-one replacement for liquid extract, and gives my afternoon iced coffee an ice cream vibe.

Extracts can be made with natural or artificial flavourings (these are your “imitation” extracts), and some contain both, but I’m not above lab-synthesized flavouring. (If you are, stick to the natural ones; there are plenty.)

A capful of extract per eight-ounce beverage is usually enough, though that can vary, depending on the quality and strength of your extract. Start by sweetening your coffee as you usually would, adding your creamer (if any), then dropping in a little bit of extract. Stir and taste. Add a little more until you’re satisfied with the flavour, keeping in mind you can add more than one extract if you like. I’m currently sipping on a vanilla-almond iced coffee, and I’m pretty pleased with myself.

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