The PROBLEM with Flavored Coffee
... and a healthy flavor alternative!
We have often been asked why we do not offer fresh-roasted flavored-coffee beans for our customers.
Well, during our first year in the roasting business we DID offer flavored coffee, but we quit -- for many compelling reasons -- and here’s a quick explanation why.
No matter where you live, you can probably count the coffee shops and drive-ups on more than two hands where the outside readerboard advertises a special “Flavor of the Day.” We’ve had to laugh at some of the very creative names. Sometimes we wonder if they’ve forgotten that coffee is the main ingredient.
But there’s more to it than that. We are now convinced that those artificial flavorings are unhealthy for humans. And we’re not alone.
Over 20 years in the coffee roasting business, we’ve come to love the complex flavors in coffee. Just coffee. Nothing more. But the coffee business is all about creativity and we found that there were coffee solvents (are you starting to get the drift?) in literally hundreds of artificial flavors, that we could add to our just-roasted coffee for our customers to purchase in fresh-bulk-coffee form.
Some of the aromas were tantalizing, some were, well... funky. But we had a pretty loyal following for a select few. And demand for more flavors grew.
The first problems started early. The aromas of so many artifical flavoring solvents was fun at first, but then became confusing. No one could smell the aroma of our coffee! But our coffee shop did smell somewhat like a candy store!
But then, our young employees who mixed the solvents into our fresh-roast coffee (using rubber gloves, of course), began to complain of physical ailments. Congestion was the main issue. But some started suffering from headaches. And skin rashes.
We did some quick research and found that artificial flavoring solvents which -- we were told by flavorings salespeople -- were considered safe when brewed for a cup or two each day, had a lot of chemical additives. The primary chemical additive -- which is present in ALL artificially flavored coffee sold -- is polypropylene glycol.
Polypropylene glycol’s main action in flavorings was to promote the absorption of the flavored solvent into the coffee beans. The problem is that it also causes the absorption of the solvent into human skin... and into human bodies. We found that very troubling.
So, we dismantled our flavoring process that very week and have not offered flavored coffee since.
Coffee flavoring containers today have prominent warnings that the solvent contained within has an irritant effect when it comes in direct contact with eyes and mucous membranes, and after prolonged contact with skin. It’s not supposed to be a problem if consumed in small amounts. But what further frightened us is that the solvents were deathly poisonous if consumed in larger amounts. It was a risk we decided not to take, for our customers and for us.
Since then we’ve actively promoted natural food flavorings in coffee beverages. Cocoa, cinnamon, nutmeg, lemon, orange, honey or any other natural food flavoring is perfect for us.
There are many alternatives, of course. My favorite is cocoa, because cocoa has recently been heralded as a very healthy food (good for lowering blood pressure) if taken in its base form. Sure, it’s a bit hard to mix cocoa powder into your coffee, isn’t it? Well, not really. We discovered that mixing a teaspoon of honey with a teaspoon of cocoa powder and a tablespoon of hot coffee was very easy to do. Honey breaks cocoa into syrup very quickly.
The best part is that it’s so versatile. You can determine how much cocoa and/or honey to mix. And if you’d like to add cream or milk.
Most importantly, it’s a healthy beverage composed of natural ingredients where coffee is the star!
~ Glenn Junkert, Coffee Director