Can You Put Vanilla Extract in Coffee?

Can you put vanilla extract in coffee? Below I share the history of flavoring coffee and how to prepare coffee with vanilla extract. 

Can you put vanilla extract in coffee?
Vanilla extract is a great way to flavor coffee

Yes, you can flavor your coffee with this common baking ingredient! Vanilla extract is a delicious and economical way to flavor coffee. There are many ways to enjoy coffee: black, with cream and sugar, in a latte, blended with ice cream, and so on.

Although uninitiated as bitter, the subtle natural flavors and sweetness of coffee blend harmoniously with a multitude of flavored syrups and spices found in the kitchen. None, in my opinion, compare to the spectacular combination of coffee and vanilla extract.

Adding vanilla extract to my morning cup of coffee is my favorite way to amplify my at-home coffee and recreate the delicious drinks served at nearby coffee shops for a fraction of the price. Keep reading to get informed of the best ways to use vanilla extract in coffee.

The History Of Flavoring Coffee

Cinnamon rolls and a star anise.
Spices have been commonly added to coffee

Flavoring coffee is a practice that dates back centuries across cultures. Cardamom, cinnamon, chicory, ginger, and turmeric are all spices that have been commonly added to coffee to enhance flavor. For example, cardamom is widely added to the brew in traditional Turkish coffee, and chicory is a hallmark of coffee flavoring in New Orleans.

In the early 20th-century, as coffee consumption in the United States was rapidly increasing, some major coffee roasters began glazing their beans in sugar and egg mixtures before roasting to lock in the coffee’s natural sweetness and flavor. Spice trading became more globalized in the 15th and 16th centuries and eventually paved the way for the international trade of coffee. So it’s no surprise that as the spice trade increased, consumers began adding spices and flavors to their coffee as well.

Vanilla Extract In Coffee

pouring vanilla milkshake on a glass place on top of a wooden table
Vanilla syrup is commonly added to coffee beverages

Vanilla is a familiar flavoring in baking and confectionaries worldwide, and vanilla syrup stands as the most commonly ordered addition to lattes and coffee beverages in cafes. Vanilla flavor comes from within long seed pods of the vanilla orchid, which is widely grown in Madagascar, Tahiti, and Mexico.

However, most folks don’t keep expensive vanilla beans in their cupboard. It’s far more likely to have the cheaper, shelf-stable alternative on hand— vanilla extract.

Vanilla extract is made by mixing vanilla beans and alcohol to produce a highly concentrated vanilla flavor. With that being said, I don’t recommend merely dumping vanilla extract into your morning brew.

While vanilla extract alone may bring a pleasant aromatic quality, vanilla extract alone is not tasty. Instead, I recommend making a vanilla simple syrup, which can immediately make any cup of coffee taste spectacular. 

Making Vanilla Simple Syrup With Vanilla Extract

Anyone can make vanilla simple syrup, and it requires only three ingredients you likely already have on hand: hot water, sugar, and vanilla extract.

To make vanilla simple syrup:

  • Mix 1 cup of white table sugar with 1 cup of hot water until the sugar completely dissolves.
  • Add 1 Tbsp of vanilla extract to the sugar solution and stir. 

Voila! You have vanilla simple syrup. Add this simple syrup to your coffee as desired, and store the remaining simple syrup in the fridge for up to one week. 

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