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3 Reasons To Avoid Artificially Flavored Coffee
Written by: Garrett Oden
Don’t you just love lab-developed flavors? Food is so much better when it has been given extra flavor via cool chemicals… Not!
Artificial flavors are everywhere we turn. They’re in inexpensive restaurant meals, freezer foods, and just about everything wrapped in colorful plastic. And yet, we value the things that are organic—the things that are amazingly flavorful on their own.
That’s why high-end restaurants can charge you dozens or even hundreds of dollars per plate. They source stellar, fresh, and uber-flavorful ingredients for their dishes. They don’t need artificial or “natural” flavors made in a lab. They just cook great food.
We believe our coffee should be like this too.
- No flavor oils sprayed on after roast
- No additives made in a lab to cover up the flavors of low-grade beans
- Just well-grown, carefully processed, and expertly roasted beans
But, we’ll go ahead and admit it: we understand why flavored coffee became popular.
When the cost of coffee beans shot up in the 60’s, many coffee companies couldn’t afford the good stuff anymore and had to buy lower quality beans. To cover the bad, bitter flavors, they started spraying the beans with flavorful oils that tasted like raspberry, cinnamon, and cocoa.
Flavored coffee became popular because it was affordable. Economically, it made complete sense—but most of the coffee world has moved far beyond.
We’ve reached the point where flavored coffee is—for the most part—irrelevant. You shouldn’t be throwing away money on flavored beans anymore.
Let me share why.
1. Flavored Coffee Is Almost Always Low-Grade Coffee
This should come as no surprise. You don’t mix fine scotch into a fruity cocktail. You don’t cook award-winning red wine into your dinner sauce. You don’t put expensive Kobe beef steak in your casseroles.
And coffee companies don’t buy quality beans and smother them in flavor oils.
It’s agriculture economics 101: sell the high-end crop for a strong price and let the bottom-feeders buy the other stuff that didn’t turn out so well.
This is flavored coffee. It’s low-quality beans, it’s terrible flavors (unless you enjoy potato-y flavor defects), and—worst of all—it’s a contributor to economic patterns that keep farmers poor.
2. Low-Grade Coffee Hurts Everyone Long-Term
Flavored coffee is the choice of many because it’s so cheap. $8 for a bag of caramel flavored coffee? Nice!
Except, not so nice.
A 2010 study, cited in the Specialty Coffee Association of America’s (SCAA) whitepaper titled Hunger In The Coffeelands, revealed that 63% of coffee-growing households in Central America experience food insecurity and malnourishment at some point every year.
Lack of education, inability to pay for healthcare, and many other poverty-related issues arise when the cost of coffee is so low.
Guess how much the farm is getting from the $8 bag of flavored coffee? Every deal is different, but often as low as $1. Or less.
According to Tracy Ging, the Sustainability Director of the SCAA…
“In countries like Costa Rica, it’s clearly not sustainable, as evidenced by all the beautiful new condos and commercial developments that are steadily taking over former coffee farms in prime growing regions.”
She goes on to say that in places where $1 per bag of coffee can work for short periods of time, most coffee farmers still eventually switch focus to other crops. Because why would a farmer put all his faith in low-profit coffee if he can also try his hand at bananas, cocoa, or another crop that could be better in the long run?
Cheap coffee has been the status quo for decades now, but it doesn’t offer farmers a way to adapt, grow, and strategize. It doesn’t give farming communities finances to invest in healthcare or education or higher-quality coffee varieties.
This is flavored coffee. It’s low-grade, it’s not contributing to a better world, and it’s not sustainable for farmers long-term (which means it’s not sustainable for anyone long-term).
For a deeper dive into the destructive nature of cheap coffee, check out this blog.
Let’s get back to good news: your coffee can be uber flavorful without breaking the bank.
There’s an alternative that’s much more delicious, more natural, and that offers hope for an economically sustainable future.
3. The Flavors Of Specialty Coffee Are Diverse And Delicious
We’ve reached a new level of coffee flavor in recent years. The days of bitter, ashy beans are behind us. The days of exotic flavors, rich aromas, and exciting acidities are ahead.
Ever tasted coffee with notes of blueberries, spice, or rose without flavor oils?
We have some of these coffees—and so do many others.
We don’t need flavor oils to achieve incredible flavors anymore. In specialty coffee, we source coffee’s that are amazing on their own. We find the coffees that are exotic and fun and fascinating, and then we roast them in a way that brings out those stellar flavors.
If flavored coffee is the cheap fast food of coffee, then specialty coffee roasters are the Michelin starred restaurants of coffee.
And the best part is, specialty-grade beans won’t empty your bank account. Specialty beans will often run you between $14 and $24 per bag—and that’s not much when you consider the gains in flavor and freshness.
But not only will you love your daily brew far more, it’ll actually contribute to the world.
According to 2017 research by the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, the widespread shift to single origin coffees has provided farmers—especially smaller, vulnerable farmers—with sustainable, reliable growth.
Many of our coffees are sourced via the direct trade model.
Basically, our roaster goes to the farm directly and makes a deal in person. This cuts out a few middlemen, lands more money in the hands of the farmer, and gives the community more freedom to invest in services and improvements it needs.
- We’re passionate about encouraging sustainability with our farm partners
- We’re passionate about giving them every opportunity to grow and thrive
- We’re passionate about making the world a better place for everyone
- And sourcing, roasting, and selling specialty coffee is how we’re doing that
Join us on this journey. Give up the low-grade flavored beans and experience coffee the way it’s meant to be enjoyed.
The easiest way to taste the rich flavors of specialty coffee is through our JavaPresse Coffee Club. We send you freshly roasted, specialty-grade beans every other week so that you’re always stocked with stellar coffee.Check it out - you’ll never go back to stale, flavored beans again.