Buckle your seatbelts, Roasty readers, and get ready for a controversial one. We’re tackling one of the more divisive facets of the java industry: flavored coffee.
Some shudder at the thought of buying a bag of blueberry cobbler or French vanilla beans, while others can’t start the day without flavored coffee. We’re here to help you figure out where you stand with the flavor-infused roasted beans. We’ve even included a few product recommendations just in case you’ve decided to give this joe a try — after all, we can’t have you drinking bad coffee!
At A Glance: Best Flavored Coffee
Why Add Flavor?
The practice of flavoring coffee became popular in the 1960s. As coffee prices skyrocketed, it became unsustainable for companies to purchase high-quality coffee beans. Instead, they used lower-quality beans and flavored them with oils to hide the bitterness of the brew.
In the decades since the coffee industry has somewhat stabilized, and most coffee fans prefer to have the beans’ natural cupping notes on their taste buds. However, flavored coffees remain on many brands’ product rosters.
Flavored coffees are by no means at the top of our favorites list, as we prefer coffee’s natural taste over all else, but we understand some people like to indulge their cravings with this type of brew. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of the best flavored coffee currently on the market.
Quick Summary: Best Flavored Coffee
|Amaretto Medium Roast||Check On Lifeboost→|
|Blueberry Cinnamon Crumble||Check On Lifeboost→|
|Volcanica Creme Brulee Flavored Coffee||Check on Amazon →|
|Maud's Vanilla Almond Flavored Coffee||Check on Amazon →|
|Cameron's Roasted Flavored Ground Coffee||Check on Amazon →|
|Crazy Cups Flavored Coffee||Check on Amazon →|
|Bones Coffee Company Flavored Coffee||Check on Amazon →|
|Kauai Coconut Caramel Crunch Flavored Coffee||Check on Amazon →|
|Green Mountain Flavored Coffee||Check on Amazon →|
Best Flavored Coffee
Lifeboost Coffee Amaretto Whole Bean Coffee
Amaretto Medium Roast
Your cup of Lifeboost Amaretto Coffee comes from coffee beans that have been individually hand-selected as the premium bean(s) of a harvest. Your coffee beans are lovingly cultivated by local farmers, after being grown slowly to full maturity in mountain shade. Your beans are hand-picked — one at a time to provide the highest in Gourmet blends — and then fermented for 26 hours so the skin can be carefully removed without damaging the seed.
As some of the healthiest, most flavorful, and best-grown coffee on the planet, Lifeboost Coffee is one of the highest quality joes we’ve ever encountered. Each bag of their beans makes a robust cup of coffee, so there’s no way we could exclude this brand from our best flavored coffee list.
Lifeboost’s Amaretto joe is silky smooth and low in acidity, and the medium roast possesses a sweet flavor that’s strong enough to stand on its own. Lifeboost uses essential oils to blend the succulent Amaretto flavor into the beans, ensuring every bag of these premium beans brews coffee that’s every bit as savory as you dreamed it would be.
Lifeboost Coffee Blueberry Cinnamon Crumble Whole Bean Coffee
Blueberry Cinammon Crumble
Blueberry Cinnamon Crumble flavored coffee takes you to a world where your worries disappear into a harmony of blueberry, cinnamon, and the finest roasted coffee beans you’ll find anywhere. One sip, and you’ll be lost in a symphony of flavors and aromas.
If you’re a fan of fruit-flavored beans, you’re sure to love Lifeboost’s Blueberry Cinnamon Crumble coffee. It’s the perfect balance of sweetness and spice, so if you’re looking for something new to try, this medium-roasted coffee may be right up your alley. Try it black or with creamer and sugar.
Just like all of Lifeboost’s beans, the contents of this bag are treated with extreme care; they’re hand-picked, spring water-washed, and sun-dried before making it to your brewer. These 100 percent arabica beans are single-origin and Fair Trade, making them some of the most delicious flavored coffees money can buy.
Volcanica Coffee Company Creme Brûlée Whole Bean Coffee
If you’ve browsed our site before, chances are you’ve come across at least one mention of Volcanica Coffee. The gourmet coffee brand offers plenty of origins and bean blends to choose from, plus a wide range of flavored coffees, too.
One of our favorites of the brand’s flavors is Creme Brûlée because it combines notes of burnt sugar and caramel flavors with the classic French vanilla flavor found in many other flavored coffees and creamers. Like all of Volcanica’s flavored beans, this rich, lavish brew is made using all-natural ingredients and has no added sugar, calories, or allergens.
If this bag of beans doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, try pouring another one of Volcanica’s flavored coffees into your morning cup. There are plenty of options to choose from, including (but not limited to) amaretto, pumpkin spice, and toasted almond!
Maud’s Coffee & Tea Hottie Biscotti Vanilla Almond K-Cups
One of the things we like about Maud’s Coffee & Tea — besides the coffee and tea, obviously — is the brand’s fun naming system. Why drink plain ol’ vanilla almond when you can have Hottie Biscotti Vanilla Almond?
And speaking of Hottie Biscotti Vanilla Almond, this joe is one of our favorite flavors from Maud’s. The smooth vanilla cream and nutty taste of rich toasted almond are just interesting enough to spice up your morning brew but just safe enough to keep you from getting tired of it after two cups.
Maud’s uses medium-roasted 100 percent arabica beans to make each product included in the brand’s wide variety of flavored coffee. The packaging is recyclable, too, which is a nice change of pace from many other K-Cup coffee brands. Plus, all their flavored brews (except the seasonal pumpkin spice) are available as decaf coffees.
Maud’s also offers a flavored coffee variety pack and a sampler pack for coffee lovers whose cravings change every other day. Read more about these and the rest of the Maud’s Coffee & Tea lineup here.
Cameron’s Coffee Highlander Grog Ground Coffee
Meet Cameron’s Coffee, a brand whose beans are sustainably sourced and small-batch roasted to reduce water consumption. The company only uses the top 10 percent of Arabica beans, and its roastery goes the extra mile by cooling the beans as soon as they’ve reached their desired roast level to avoid over-roasting.
Fire up your coffee maker, and pour freshly ground Cameron’s Coffee Highlander Grog joe into the brew basket. This Scottish-themed coffee combines the sweet flavors of butterscotch, caramel, and vanilla with a hint of spice provided by rum to create a delicious light roast brew.
Crazy Cups Bananas Foster Flambé K-Cups
Because Crazy Cups has so many flavored coffee products to choose from, it was hard for us to pick a favorite. But after careful consideration, we decided to go with the brand’s Bananas Foster Flambé cups. Pop one of these babies into your Keurig machine and enjoy the boozy flavors of dark rum, vanilla ice cream, bananas, brown sugar, and cinnamon.
If the brew’s delicious, smooth taste isn’t enough to convince you to try these coffee capsules, maybe this information will: the cups are recyclable, and the flavors added to these ground beans are sugar and calorie-free. The grounds are also artisan roasted, gluten-free, lactose-free, vegan, kosher, and pareve, and many of the brand’s flavored coffee options come in decaf, too.
Bones Coffee Company Cookies ‘n Dreams Whole Bean Coffee
If you’re wondering which of our flavorful coffee suggestions taste best when cold-brewed, this is it! The 100 percent arabica beans used for this low acid coffee are sourced from Brazil, but each batch is small-batch roasted to medium-colored perfection and packed in the United States.
Coffee drinkers with a sweet tooth will appreciate that this joe has the beloved taste and amazing aroma of cookies and cream ice cream, and health enthusiasts will love that the full-bodied gourmet coffee has no added sugar or carbs and is keto-friendly, vegan, and dairy-free.
Kauai Coffee Coconut Caramel Crunch Ground Coffee
The 100 percent Arabica beans Kauai Coffee uses were grown in rich volcanic soil, and when you add in the refreshing mountain rain, warm sunlight, and cool winds, you get the perfect growing conditions for high-quality beans.
And all of that quality shows up in the smooth flavor and sweet aroma of the brand’s Coconut Caramel Crunch ground coffee beans. The coconut and caramel notes of this medium-roasted coffee make it taste like dessert in a cup. And the best part is, thanks to this brew, you can enjoy dessert any time of the day!
Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Caramel Vanilla Cream Ground Coffee
If you love adding the delicious and buttery flavors of caramel into your cup of regular coffee, then these beans from Green Mountain Coffee Roasters are right up your alley. Except now, you won’t have to add the extra flavor yourself; it’s already infused into the beans!
This caramel and vanilla flavored coffee is a decadent and delicious light roast. Plus, it’s Orthodox Union certified kosher! To experience these beans’ flavor at their fullest potential, use an immersion brewing method, like a French press coffee maker or an AeroPress.
How Is Flavored Coffee Made?
You might be wondering how a brand could make regular old arabica coffee beans taste like butter pecan or some other classic dessert. This magic occurs thanks to either a combination of spices and oils or a concentrated flavor syrup added to the coffee beans as they roast.
Flavored Coffee vs. Flavored Syrup
One common misconception is that flavored coffee and coffee syrups are the same thing — they’re not. While it’s true that both are means of altering coffee’s natural flavor, they’re pretty different in all other respects.
Flavored coffee, which you’re highly unlikely to come across at your local coffee shop, generally doesn’t bump up the calorie count of your brew and is sugar-free more often than not. On the other hand, flavored coffee syrups are pretty popular, even in the most pretentious indie coffee shops. Those syrups are responsible for drinks like the beloved pumpkin spice latte or the sweet chocolate cappuccino.
Unlike flavored coffee, coffee syrups add a significant amount of extra sugar and calories to your drink. They typically have corn syrup or high fructose corn syrup as their primary ingredient alongside a smorgasbord of preservatives like potassium sorbate and sodium benzoate.
Additionally, the processes for adding these flavorings are very different. Flavored coffee gets its extras during roasting, while coffee syrups are added after brewing.
Natural vs. Artificial Flavors: Is flavored coffee bad for you?
Higher-quality coffee roasters usually combine natural and artificial oils to create the delicious flavor and heavenly aroma many flavored coffees have. However, most flavored coffee manufacturers rely on wholly artificial flavoring to alter the taste of their beans.
This means that their beans will contain traces of the chemical propylene glycol. Though the common additive helps bind the flavored oils to the beans and is deemed safe for consumption in both the United States and the United Kingdom, it’s controversial because it’s also used in industrial products like paint and antifreeze.
Though there haven’t been any cases of negative reactions to propylene glycol (aside from those allergic to it and one incident of excessive consumption), and the small amount of it in coffee is unlikely to cause any harm, we advise against relying on these types of coffee as your only fuel if you’re a heavy coffee drinker.
Why Should You Avoid Flavored Coffee?
Inferior, Less-Than-Fresh Coffee Beans
Just like the charred tones of a French roast are often used to hide the flavor of poor quality beans, flavored coffees often serve the same purpose. Companies may take beans close to expiration, of an undesirable variety, or have other defects that would adversely affect flavor and make them more “marketable” by over-roasting them or adding in synthetic flavors.
Unfortunately, that means that you, the consumer, are getting a mediocre product. Also, low-quality beans are generally cheap beans bought from the unsustainable and exploitative supply chains we discuss below. So, it’s a lose-lose situation for everyone except the middle-men.
You may notice that many flavored coffees out there have a surprisingly affordable price. While this might initially seem exciting for you as a consumer, it isn’t a good sign for anyone.
Extremely low coffee prices are a problem for everyone, as it generally means that farmers are not earning enough money for their crops. This not only results in poverty-related issues within the farming communities — think lack of education and healthcare — but it also means there is no chance to get a better product.
In a white paper called Hunger in the Coffeelands, the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) explains that each year, 63 percent of coffee-growing households in Central and South America experience food insecurity and malnourishment. That statistic has a lot to do with the low price of coffee.
When it comes to coffee, higher prices tend to go with harder-to-grow but higher quality coffee plants, better growing conditions, and more sustainable practices. A farm can’t get Fair Trade certified without money to pay for the certification.
Flavored coffee can hide the flavor of low-quality beans enough to keep selling them to consumers, and practices that perpetuate the exploitative side of the coffee industry probably aren’t the best ones in which to invest your money.
How to Pick a “Good” Flavored Coffee
If you are looking to scope out what company you want to buy from to maintain a sense of social responsibility, there are a few things you can do:
Look for higher (but fair) prices.
While you definitely shouldn’t be spending 50 dollars on a one-pound bag of flavored coffee, 20 dollars is a much better price point than five. And paying a little extra is usually worth it both in terms of quality and sustainability.
Seek out arabica.
This goes hand in hand with the price point. Arabica plants are significantly more delicate than their more caffeinated counterpart robusta, but their beans produce a significantly better flavor. So looking for a 100 percent arabica blend is a great way to ensure you are buying higher quality beans for your brew.
Scope out quality check procedures.
Generally, higher quality coffees will have several stages of quality check procedures, and many publish at least some information about this online. These checks stretch from the beginning to end of the coffee production process and include anything from checking beans for physical defects to checking roast consistency and performing formal cupping.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best flavored instant coffee?
We know how a packet or two of instant coffee can come in handy on a camping or hiking trip, and we’re happy to report that going the instant route doesn’t mean you have to skip out on all the yummy flavors infused into coffee beans during the roasting process.
If you prefer to make your coffee the “just add water” way but still want something with a unique and rich flavor, try a packet of Beanies instant joe. The sampler box contains a wide range of flavors, including Very Vanilla, Double Chocolate, Irish Cream, and more, so you’ll never be stuck drinking the same thing every day.
Should you drink flavored coffee black?
There are plenty of reasons you should enjoy your cup of coffee black (that means sans sugar and creamer). Some of these pertain to health, as coffee add-ins can put a higher sugar and calorie count to an otherwise healthy cup of joe. But another reason to drink black coffee is that it allows you to enjoy all of coffee’s flavors — both natural and otherwise — without dilution or alteration.
That’s why we think it’s a great idea to drink flavored coffee black, too. Creamer and sugar might completely drown out your beans’ flavor profile, and if you’d rather taste add-ins than the coffee itself, purchasing flavored java is pretty much pointless.
Is flavored coffee keto-friendly?
Black coffee is keto-friendly on its own, but things get a little complicated once flavored brews are added to the mix. However, the answer to this question depends on how the robust flavor is added to the beans.
Because many companies add oil-based flavors to the joe while it roasts, the finished product has no additional carbohydrates, making it safe for a keto Roasty reader to consume without ruining their diet. Not all coffees are flavored this way, though, so you’ll need to do your research on a bag of beans before integrating it into your coffee routine.
Can you put vanilla extract in your coffee?
Yes, you can!
You may keep your vanilla extract tucked away on your shelf until it’s time to bake something, but pull out your little bottle of the stuff the next time you want to add a little something extra to your brew. Stir a hint of vanilla extract into your finished brew, or add a couple of drops to your pre-ground coffee so the classic flavor is infused into the coffee as it brews.
What are the most common flavored coffees?
When trying to decide what kind of flavored joe you should purchase, it’s always a great idea to choose from the most popular coffee flavors out there; after all, they’re probably popular for good reason!
Of the wide variety of flavors added to coffee these days, French vanilla, hazelnut, pumpkin spice, and caramel are among the most common.
Flavored vs. Flavorful
So there you have it. There are ways to get flavored coffee without compromising quality or morality — you just have to do a little more research to get there.
If you simply want a coffee with a strong flavor profile but aren’t interested in all of the fine print associated with flavored coffee, check out different regional profiles. Places like Costa Rica and Ethiopia have noticeable flavor notes without any suspicious additions. So, shop around until you land on something that strikes your fancy.
Either way, we hope this buying guide helped you better understand the wide world of flavored coffee.