The creamy hazelnut flavor is one of the best ones to combine with coffee. The taste blends nicely, the nutty overtones enhance the coffee aroma and provide a slightly sweet flavor similar to a hazelnut liqueur.
Flavored coffee is a controversial topic among coffee lovers. While some turn away from it with disgust and point out that the beans are inherently lower in quality and all the natural tasting notes are masked, others say that it is a good way of utilizing inferior beans that would otherwise go to waste.
Since we are passionate about looking for the best quality beans, flavored coffee is not our first pick. But it can be one of your guilty pleasures. We understand. And we don’t judge.
How is hazelnut coffee made? How to spot good hazelnut coffee? And what is the best hazelnut coffee on the market?
We’ll debunk all the secrets that hide behind the nutty cup.
Quick Summary: Best Hazelnut Coffee
|LifeBoost Organic Hazelnut Coffee
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|Volcanica Hazelnut Flavored Coffee Grounds
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|SF Bay Coffee Hazelnut Creme Whole Bean
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|Seattle's Best Coffee Toasted Hazelnut
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|Don Francisco's Hawaiian Hazelnut Coffee
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|Cameron's Coffee Roasted Whole Bean
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Hard To Swallow Hazelnut Coffee Facts
While the simple flavors like vanilla, hazelnut, or caramel should be easy to make just by using natural flavorings and extracts, they rarely are. And when it comes to extravagant flavors like pumpkin spice, Creme Brule, or chocolate brownie, natural flavoring is hardly possible.
Rather than flavoring coffee naturally, the beans are bathed in a concentrated cocktail of chemicals. These are very strong and made to engage the drinker’s sense of smell rather than the taste.
One of the main ingredients making the flavors stick is propylene glycol, a chemical that is also used as an aircraft de-icer but is a common ingredient found in packaged foods as well.
What’s more, the beans used for making flavored coffee are usually low-quality, and stale. Since the chemical additives can easily mask the taste of the coffee beans, the most inferior ones are used for this purpose.
Where Does The Hazelnut Flavor Come From?
Not all hazelnut coffee is created equal and there are two main different ways of how manufacturers add hazelnut flavor to the coffee.
Real Food Extract
The real food extracts used for flavored coffee are highly concentrated and intense, similarly as you would use vanilla extract in baking. They are organic and natural, often mixed in water or vegetable-based solvents.
The aroma in coffee is powerful and recognizable but the flavor is moderate and will be more pronounced when you add milk, cream, or sugar to your cup of coffee.
The most common practice of making hazelnut flavored coffee is done by chemists. The chemicals commonly used for this process include dimethyl, acetyl thiazole, or dimethylpyrazine, which are then bonded to the bean by propylene glycol. A typical flavor may contain as much as 85% propylene glycol.
The result is overpowering, sugary, sweet, and leaves a thick shiny oil residue on the surface of the beans. And your grinder. The stress is placed on a strong aroma, that stimulates the sense of smell of the drinker rather than the actual taste.
The good news is that there are still some companies that take care to make sure that even hazelnut coffee is made in the highest standards. How to spot good quality hazelnut coffee?
Zooming In On Good Hazelnut Coffee
There is a lot of low-quality and cheap hazelnut coffee on the market that utilizes unsustainable practices and uses a lot of artificial additives. However, some manufacturers are committed to proving the best quality coffee, even when it’s flavored. Here are some of the factors that will help you to distinguish whether the coffee is worth a second look.
Pick the coffee that still sources high-quality beans from the best coffee regions. Look out for Arabica instead of Robusta, and pay attention to the region that the coffee comes from.
The freshness is one of the key issues when it comes to flavored coffee. The beans can be weeks, months, even years old until they make their way into your cup. The staleness is then masked by the fake flavorings.
The coffee usually peaks in flavor around 5-14 days after the roasting, so try to get the coffee that has been roasted freshly.
Price / Sustainable Farming
The cheap low quality flavored coffee comes hand in hand with bad cultivation practices. These coffees don’t support fair-trade sustainable farming and the flavor comes at the price of the farmer. Good coffee that avoids the exploitation of the farmers can be spotted by the higher price.
Type Of Flavoring
Choose the coffee that has been flavored in the most natural way possible and eliminates the need for an excessive list of chemicals on the ingredients list.
The added hazelnut flavor shouldn’t mean added calories. Stay away from hazelnut flavored coffee with a higher calorie content since it means added sugar or other unwanted extras.
The Best Hazelnut Coffee
We’ve sourced some of the best hazelnut coffee from the roasters that source good-quality beans, and still, take care of every step in the coffee production process.
LifeBoost Hazelnut Coffee
Unlike other Hazelnut and flavored coffees, LifeBoost exclusively uses natural flavoring, so the coffee is still 0 sugar and 0 calories. Plus, it has a slew of certifications to give you absolute confidence in both their ethos and quality, including USDA organic, non-GMO, fair trade, Mycotozin-free, and Kosher.
To preserve their flavor, these beans are also slow, hand-roasted in small batches. When all is said and done, this makes for a rich, bold coffee that features decadent undertones of chocolate and caramel with a slightly sweet fruitiness.
Volcanica Flavored Ground Hazelnut Coffee
If you’re concerned about the quality of the beans, you know that you are safe with Volcanica. They source some of the highest-grade exotic and gourmet coffee in the world, including single origins or peaberry coffee. The coffee beans always come from the best farms and are grown in the shade and volcanic soil, ensuring that the maturing of the cherries is slow and the flavor has time to develop.
Customer reviews say that this hazelnut flavored medium roast is mild and aromatic with buttery and nutty notes, but still plenty of kick. Volcanica uses only natural ingredients and the coffee is roasted fresh and then immediately packed, you know you’re getting some of the best hazelnut coffee.
SF Bay Coffee Hazelnut Crème
This hazelnut coffee has a light, creamy flavor from German hazelnuts. With a subtle sweet aftertaste, the flavor is not so pronounced and comes with a distinctly nutty finish, as well as Madagascar vanilla and a touch of cinnamon. It comes as a whole bean, so you can even ground yourself to boost its freshness.
Using solely 100% Arabica beans, you can rely on the coffee bean quality. It is sourced from Central America, only from the beans growing at the high elevation, which ensures their distinct flavor.
Dedicated to the best practices, you know that by buying this coffee, you’re ensuring fair trade and treatment for farmers as well as the roasters. The coffee is also sustainably grown, dedicated to minimizing waste and Kosher. What’s not to love?
Seattle’s Best Coffee Toasted Hazelnut
Seattle’s Best is committed to using premium beans, even for hazelnut coffee. They are ensuring high standards by sampling the coffee throughout the roasting process. This hazelnut ground coffee is 100% Arabica and sourced from Latin America.
This medium roast has a smooth taste and sweet aroma with nutty notes. People found this flavor is mellow and subtle, and not artificial tasting or bitter, as you might encounter when tasting some of the cheap alternatives.
Don Francisco’s Hawaiian Hazelnut Flavored Ground Coffee
Hawaii, in this case, doesn’t signify the origin of the beans but its exotic flavors. The creamy and nutty cup of coffee is accompanied by hints of coconut as well as French vanilla. The hazelnut flavor here is not overpowering, or too artificial either.
The coffee beans used are 100% Arabica roasted medium and they come in recyclable cans to boost their freshness. The brand is a part of Direct impact initiative that ensures fair treatment towards the environment as well as the resources.
Cameron’s Coffee Roasted Whole Bean Coffee Hazelnut
Cameron’s Coffee sources only the top 10% Arabica beans in the world, so you don’t have to worry about your hazelnut coffee using inferior beans. They are then handcrafted and roasted to perfection in small batches, not burning away all the flavor from the coffee.
Cameron’s hazelnut coffee is rich, fresh, aromatic, and full of flavor. You’ll receive whole beans so you can make sure it’s freshly ground right before brewing.
They also pay attention to the method of sourcing their coffee beans, making sure it is sustainable and takes care of everyone involved in the coffee production process, the farmers, and the environment.
Can People With Nut Allergies Drink Hazelnut Coffee?
The hazelnut flavor in coffee is created by combining natural and synthetic flavor chemicals. These aroma chemicals are not usually based on nut extracts and therefore do not contain the allergens found in nuts. To be safe, check the specific brand that you want to go for.
How Else Can You Make Your Coffee Hazelnut Flavored?
Instead of using hazelnut flavored coffee, you can add hazelnut syrup into your cup after brewing. This way, you can make sure that the beans you use are fresh and high-quality, but you’ll be also adding a significant amount of sugar into your cup.
Is Hawaiian Hazelnut Coffee Grown In Hawaii?
When searching for hazelnut coffee, it’s the Hawaiian one that keeps popping up. In this case, it doesn’t mean that these are single-origin beans from Hawaii. Rather, the reference points to the connection between the exotic flavors of hazelnut, coconut, and vanilla and what we associate with Hawaii, such as the beaches, landscapes, and laid-back island lifestyle.
Hazel-nut Or Not?
We understand the appeal of hazelnut flavor since it works so well with coffee, but it comes with a lot of drawbacks. The fact that most of the beans used for this coffee are lower quality, it masks all the natural inherent flavors that we love coffee for.
Additionally, this kind of coffee is often soaked in a mixture of artificial chemicals and even though these are not hazardous to health and safe to drink in small amounts, the resulting taste is sugary, aromatic, and overpowering.
If you’re a fan of nutty coffee, it would be a great idea to start exploring the flavors that naturally occur in coffee. Plenty of single-origin coffees will add nutty overtones into your cup. You can try coffee from Brazil, Sumatra, or Colombia to expand your coffee tasting horizons.
If you don’t see yourself giving up this guilty please we found some of the best-flavored coffee available that will take of your hazelnut fix.