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There are a number of different types of flavored coffees, with many people breaking them up into rough categories like chocolate, vanilla, nut, fruit, or spice-based flavors. Some people view flavored coffees derisively and consider them a topic of mockery, while others find them quite enjoyable. People in both camps might not be aware of the huge diversity of flavored coffees on the market, which vary widely in strength, flavor, and quality. Some coffee companies will even produce custom-flavored blends for their consumers, expanding the options even further.
Some common fruit-based flavored coffees include: blueberry, raspberry, pineapple, and coconut. It is also possible to find things like “wildberry” flavored coffee, which uses a mixed berry blend. Some of these fruits may be combined with others, making chocolate-raspberry, for example, or pina colada flavored coffee. Fruit flavored coffees tend to be naturally sweeter than others, and they can be made with a variety of roasts.
The most popular nut-based flavored coffee is probably hazelnut, but you can also find almond, pecan, macadamia, and Brazil nut flavored coffees. Nuts can also be mixed up a bit, creating things like praline flavored coffee or Southern pecan coffee. Many nut based flavored coffees are also available with caramel flavoring, creating a sweet, creamy, complex flavor.
Vanilla based flavors include caramel, Irish cream, and French toast, among many others. It is also possible to find an assortment of chocolate-inspired flavors like mocha fudge, chocolate mint, and many others. Spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, mint, and nutmeg may also be used in flavored coffees, either alone or in combination with other flavors.
Coffee flavoring is a complex art, involving chemistry skills and a knack for developing interesting and appealing flavors which pair well with coffee and travel well as the coffee is processed and subsequently shipped. If the thought of flavored coffees doesn't float your boat, you can dabble with flavored creamers, a nice intermediate introduction, and you can also create your own flavor concoctions by using a flavored creamer in a flavored coffee, as long as you do so with caution, as some flavors will clash quite spectacularly.
Critics of flavored coffees argue that they obscure the natural flavors of the coffee bean, which is an extremely complex food product. Some types of coffee are already incredibly and uniquely flavorful, like Jamaican Blue Mountain, and some people feel that these coffees should not be corrupted with the addition of flavoring. However, flavorings can also enhance the flavor of a less than amazing harvest or roast, elevating it from the dull to the sublime.
I like flavored coffee as long as the flavoring complements the coffee. Cinnamon, chocolate, caramel, mint, nut and butter flavors are all great for coffee.
The flavors I cannot tolerate in coffee are fruit flavors, like raspberry. Yuck. That just ruins the coffee for me. I'm not really fond of fruit with chocolate either, so I know it's just a personal taste thing with me.
I tend to be purist, even with flavored coffee, though, and I take it black.