Spicing it Up

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Spicing it Up

Spicing it UpI’ve long been a proponent of varying things in my life to gain new experiences. Coffee is no exception to this rule and I don’t ‘play favorites;’ instead choosing from the broad cultural array that this world offers.

One other such way in which I’m able to modify my flavors, even those I choose to revisit from time to time, is by adding spices and flavors of my own choosing. This is not actually unique, as any cappuccino enthusiast can attest. However, my choices are far more explicit and used only for hinting the flavor in one direction or another.

Giving due credit, it was my great-grandmother (morfars mor in the exacting Swedish) that originally gave me the idea to muck with that which was already perfect. Legend has it that she made the strongest coffee ever known. It started with a cast iron skillet in which she put water and coffee grounds. To this she added egg whites for some unknown, but traditional, reason.

The resulting concoction was then brought to a boil some number of times before the contents were filtered out into welcoming mugs. I haven’t actually tried this, but writing this now I’ve resolved to do so this weekend.

This insight gave credibility to thoughts on adding various other flavors to my coffee. I have added such things as cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, allspice, almonds, various citrus juices, cayenne, and chili powder. All of these things have left me pleasantly surprised at the results.

As I think about things to try, I recall the descriptive texts on coffee bags themselves. Hints of blackberry laced with chocolate and a slightly nutty flavor. Tones of apricot and pipe tobacco. These descriptions give us ideas as to what we can do to our coffee to encourage it in a direction.

My experience has shown that it is best to either add your component(s) to the grinder, or simply place the object (such as a slice of orange) on top of the grinds within the filter. I must say, citrus juice is one of the better things I’ve found to add to the grounds. It is my belief that the citric acid is able to break down the oils in coffee and somehow reduce the acidity. It makes for a wonderfully smooth brew.

What recipes have you found that work? Were there specific coffees that, when mixed with the appropriate ingredients, provided the best results?

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