Do you love coffee or know someone who does? ‘Tis the season for the fanciest possible version of everything, and your hot beverage is no exception.
Places like Starbucks have taken flavored coffees to whole new level. At my local grocery store, there’s an entire refrigerated unit dedicated to decadent flavored creamers. Unfortunately, those creamers are rife with chemicals, including artificial flavors and neurotoxins like aspartame and sucralose. You certainly aren’t giving someone a “treat” by putting that stuff in their coffee. Here’s the list of ingredients for Coffeemate’s Hazelnut Creamer:
WATER, SUGAR, PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED SOYBEAN AND/OR COTTONSEED OIL, AND LESS THAN 2% OF SODIUM CASEINATE (A MILK DERIVATIVE)**, MONO- AND DIGLYCERIDES, DIPOTASSIUM PHOSPHATE, COLOR ADDED, CELLULOSE GEL, NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL FLAVORS, CELLULOSE GUM, CARRAGEENAN, DEXTROSE.
Sooooo….there’s no actual cream involved, nor is there any hazelnut mentioned in that chemistry project. Yum.
Here’s some great news, though: If you possess the ability to heat milk and use measuring spoons and a whisk, the fanciest flavors around can be yours, and at a fraction of the price of the artificial grocery store versions.the fanciest flavors around can be yours, and at a fraction of the price of the artificial grocery store versions.
Start with an Excellent Coffee
Some studies show measurable health benefits for coffee drinkers. Those who drink more than 4 cups per day have a decreased risk of oral cancer, prostate cancer, and basal cell carcinoma. Moderate coffee consumption can also reduce your risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes. Coffee drinkers are also less susceptible to Alzheimers and dementia.
Some feel that coffee is not exactly health food, but it is incredibly high in antioxidants. Also, you can make far better choices than the usual offerings.
You should start with a good quality organic coffee bean. Green, or unroasted, coffee beans store the longest – if properly stashed away in a cool, dark place in mylar bags with a desiccant and an 02 absorber, it can last for ten years or more. Roasting coffee releases the oils, which means that the bean immediately begins to age.
Consuming conventionally grown coffee means that you are also consuming a significant amount of pesticides, according to Dr. Joseph Mercola of Mercola.com. Dr. Mercola is not a coffee fan but offers the following suggestions for choosing the best possible coffee:
If you simply MUST drink coffee here are a few tips to help reduce the chances of harmful effects:
- Use organic coffee – Again, coffee is a heavily sprayed crop, so drinking organic coffee might reduce or eliminate the exposure to toxic herbicides, pesticides, and fertilizers. The only drawback is that the countries where coffee is produced probably have less control and monitoring for compliance to organic practices. You will also be helping to protect the health of the people working in the coffee fields, as you will be helping to reduce their toxic exposure as well.If you want to go a step further, look for fair-trade certified coffee, which means the coffee farmers have been paid fairly and treated well.
- “Swiss Water Process” decaf – If you are going to drink decaffeinated coffee, be sure that it is one that uses a non-chemical based method of decaffeination. The “Swiss Water Process” is a patented method and is the best choice. Most of the major brands are chemically decaffeinated, even if it says “Naturally Decaffeinated” right on the container. If you are unsure of the methods, contact the manufacturer.
- Unbleached filters – If you use a “drip” coffee maker, be sure to use non-bleached filters. The bright white ones, which most people use, are chlorine bleached and some of this chlorine will be extracted from the filter during the brewing process.
I always have a French press on hand, so that in the event of a power outage, fresh coffee can still be mine (for which my children are very thankful).
Then Make Sweet Cream
Sweet cream is very basic – it’s simply your dairy or dairy alternative, warmed enough to dissolve your sweetener.
- Choose organic milk to avoid the addition of hormones, antibiotics and GMO-fed dairy.
- Other options include animal product alternatives like soy milk, rice milk, and almond milk. If you make the milk yourself you are sure to have a wholesome ingredients list.
- Look for a non-GMO, less processed sugar like organic Turbinado, Sucanat or Muscovado.
- Try stevia, a low calorie sweetener made from the leaves of the stevia plant. (Some people dislike the licorice-like flavor of stevia)
- Raw honey is always a delicious and healthy option to sweeten anything.
Add the flavor:
Choose an option from the list below. (Many of these combinations were created by my daughter, Rosie Luther). Stir them into a base of 1.5 cups of milk and 1.5 cups of cream. (I have only used cow’s milk products to make these but a friend tells me that the dairy alternatives work well too.
If you don’t want to make a full batch of the creamer, stir just a small amount of the flavorings into an individual cup of coffee and add milk.
Bring it to a low simmer:
Mix the sweetener and flavoring into the milk and bring to a simmer on the stove, whisking constantly until it begins to steam slightly. Remove from heat, allow to cool, then store in the refrigerator. Feel free to adjust the amounts for stronger or sweeter flavors. Don’t bring it to a boil, because your creamer will curdle.
Choose Your Favorite Flavor
- Mocha Java: 2 tbsp of cocoa powder, 4 tbsp of muscovado (or brown) sugar
- Mexican Mocha Java: 2 tbsp of cocoa powder, 4 tbsp of muscovado (or brown) sugar, 1 tsp of cinnamon
- Nutella aka Chocolate Hazelnut: (we make our own “Nutella” from scratch with a food processor) 4 tbps of Nutella or an organic chocolate hazelnut spread – no other sweetener needed
- Gingerbread: 2 tsp molasses, 2 tbsp of muscavodo (or brown) sugar, 1/2 tsp each of ginger, clove, and cinnamon
- Almond Toffee: 4 tbsp of sugar of choice, 1 tsp of almond extract
- Vanilla Latte: 2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract, 4 tbsp of turbinado (or white) sugar
- Great White North Maple Java: 6 tbsp of pure maple syrup
- Mocha Mint: 2 tbsp of cocoa powder, 1/2 tsp of pure peppermint extract, 4 tbsp of turbinado (or white) sugar
- Cinnamon Roll: 2 tsp of cinnamon, 1 tsp of vanilla extract, 4 tbsp of muscovado (or brown) sugar, and a dash of salt (yep, salt)
- Caramel “Mockiatto”: 6 tbsp of muscovado (or brown) sugar, a dash of salt, 1 tbps of cocoa, and 1/2 tsp of pure vanilla extract
- Amaretto: 1 tbsp of almond extract, 4 tbsp of turbinado (or white) sugar
- Cherry Amaretto: 1 tbsp of almond extract, 4 tbsp of turbinado (or white) sugar, 1/2 tsp of cherry extract
- White chocolate mocha: 1 cup of white chocolate chips, 1 tsp of cocoa (melt the chips into the milk, whisking constantly)
- Mint white chocolate: 1 cup of white chocolate chips, 1 tsp of pure peppermint extract
- Black Forest: 2 tbsp of cocoa, 4 tbsp of muscovado (or brown) sugar, 1 tsp of cherry extract
- Chocolate coconut mocha: 2 tbsp of cocoa, 4 tbsp of turbinado (or white) sugar, 2 tsp of coconut extract (or replace half of the milk with coconut milk)
- Irish Cream: 2 tbsp cocoa, 1 tsp pure vanilla extract, 1/2 tsp almond extract, 2 tbsp of instant coffee, 4 tbsp of turbinado (or white) sugar
- Eggnog: 1 tsp of pure vanilla extract, 2 tsp of rum extract, 1 tsp of nutmeg
- Pumpkin Pie Latte: 3 tbsp of pumpkin puree, 1 tsp of pumpkin pie spice, 1 tsp of cinnamon, 4 tbsp of muscovado (or brown) sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Hazelnut: 1 tsp of hazelnut extract, 1 tsp of pure vanilla extract, 4 tbsp of turbinado (or white) sugar
- Frangelico Cream: 1 tbsp of cocoa, 1 tsp of hazelnut extract, 1 tsp of pure vanilla extract, and 4 tbsp of muscovado (or brown) sugar
- Chai Latte: Simmer 3 Chai tea bags in creamer mixture with 4 tbsp of muscovado (or brown) sugar
- Chocolate Raspberry: 4 tbsp of seedless raspberry jelly, 2 tbsp of cocoa
- Almond Joy: 2 tbsp of cocoa, 4 tbsp of turbinado (or white) sugar, 1 tsp of almond extract, and 2 tsp of coconut extract (or replace half of the milk with coconut milk)
- Salted Caramel: 6 tbsp of muscovado (or brown) sugar, a dash of salt
Top it off with a dollop of whipped cream and a drizzle or sprinkle of something, if you really want to channel your inner barista.
Make Flavored Syrups for Gifts
Of course, gift-wrapping a package containing a dairy product may not work very well. For giving, try making a flavored syrup (or a few of them), decanting into pretty bottles, and sticking a bow on top.
Syrups, like the kind at the fancy coffee places can be easily homemade. You need to make a syrup base: with 1/2 cup of turbinado (or white) sugar and 1 cup of water, then add 1-2 tsp of any kind of extract you want – you are only limited by the extracts available to you: vanilla, rum, coconut, cherry, almond, etc.
You need to make a syrup base: with 1/2 cup of turbinado (or white) sugar and 1 cup of water, then add 1-2 tsp of any kind of extract you want – you are only limited by the extracts available to you: vanilla, rum, coconut, cherry, almond, etc.
1/2 cup of turbinado (or white) sugar
1 cup of water
Simmer the ingredients above to dissolve the sugar, then add 1-2 tsp of any kind of extract you want – you are only limited by the extracts available to you. You can mix them based on the recipes above, or you can try single flavors.
Look for pure extracts without artificial ingredients.
What Is Your Favorite Flavor?
Do you like flavored coffees? If so, what is your favorite and how do you make it at home?
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Daisy Luther is a freelance writer and editor. Her website, The Organic Prepper, offers information on healthy prepping, including premium nutritional choices, general wellness and non-tech solutions. You can follow Daisy on Facebook and Twitter, and you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org