There is only one things better than a cold brew on a hot summer afternoon.
DIY-ing a flavored cold brew right at home, instead of going out to a coffee shop 🙂 Not only can you save on costs and time, but doing it all by yourself also gives you total control over what goes into your cup – including flavors.
But before we get into my recommendations, let’s brush up on what a cold brew is.
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Understanding Cold Brew
To make cold brew, steep coffee grounds at room temperature or cold water for around 12-24 hours. This slow extraction process results in a smoother, less acidic flavor profile that many people find more enjoyable than traditional hot brewed coffee. It also lasts longer, having a shelf life of up to 10 days when stored in the fridge.
16 Flavoring Ideas for an Extra-Yummy Cold Brew Coffee Recipe
Looking for cold brew recipe ideas? I compiled a list of 16 different ways to infuse flavor into your homemade cold brew using ingredients like fruit syrups, spices, sweet creams, and more. So get ready to satisfy those caffeine cravings with some delicious DIY creations.
1. Flavored Coffee Beans and Blends
This is arguably the easiest way to infuse unique flavors without extra steps. Just choose your favorite flavored bean or blend and you’re good to go with the usual brewing process.
However, no matter the flavor, you need to make sure those beans are of premium quality and freshly roasted, as this will significantly impact the taste. Avoid stale or low-grade options, which can ruin the overall flavor.
You should also use coarse grounds for your cold brew because it allows for better extraction and prevents over-extraction resulting in bitterness. A coarse grind size ensures that the water passes through the coffee at just the right speed to optimize both flavor and caffeine extraction.
There is just one thing I don’t like about grinding flavored coffee beans at home, that the flavor might stick to the burrs. You may need to clean your grinder after.
Swamped with work and need a timely reminder of your vacation in a tropical paradise? Take a sip from this one even when you’re working and it almost feels like you’re back lounging on the beach and basking in the sun.
What’s great about this technique is that it requires minimal effort but yields maximum results. The natural and subtle sweetness of shredded coconut adds an extra layer to your coffee without overpowering its originally rich taste.
Whether it’s ground or whole spices, infusing them alongside your coffee grounds during brewing can give your cold brew an entirely new and exciting taste.
I love experimenting with different spice combinations like cinnamon sticks, nutmeg, ginger, or all three.
Don’t overdo it though, you just want the aroma, not feel like you are biting a cinnamon stick.
Fruit and cold brew go well together. The most popular fruit-infused cold brew is made using orange, but berries like blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, or blackberries work wonderfully as well. Even in the form of homemade fruit syrup.
And the visual appeal is just as important. The bright and vibrant colors of the fruit syrup can contrast beautifully with the dark coffee. It makes every sip feel like an indulgent treat for your taste buds and eyes.
5. Sweet Cream Cold Foam
The creamy sweetness is a beloved touch among many Starbucks coffee lovers, and now you can enjoy it at home too. But don’t stop there – you can easily customize the flavor by adding any simple syrup of your choice. My go-to is caramel or vanilla for an extra sweet kick.
If you like switching things up, try alternate toppings like whipped cream or marshmallows for a more fun twist.
6. Nut Butter Cold Foam
This one is an additional twist to the previous flavor. Only have plain syrup in stock? Add powdered nut butter or cookie butter to your homemade cold foam.
When it comes to choosing which nut butter to use, there are plenty of options. The possibilities are endless, from classic peanut butter to almond and even hazelnut.
7. Drizzling Sauces
Adding a drizzle of sauce to my cold brew coffee is an unexpectedly effortless way to elevate a drink’s flavor and aesthetic profile.
Want to enhance the existing flavors in your cup? Or want to add a contrast of flavors to highlight each one’s strength? Just a few drizzles and you can alter the flavor profiles. Of course, don’t forget the essential whipped cream or cold foam topper. If I’m feeling like adding an extra burst of sweetness or creamy goodness, I just mix the sauce directly.
8. Dulce de Leche
Don’t be fooled. Dulce de leche might taste sickly sweet to some but pairing it with a cold brew strikes a perfect balance and brings out hints of toffee or butterscotch without the burnt caramel taste.
The best part about this addition is how it makes your iced coffee silky smooth, and glossy. With its decadent yet mellow taste, it’s best to enjoy this drink on a hot summer day.
Natural sweeteners like honey are great for those who need something refreshing but free of refined sugar. Add depth to your coffee with honey’s sweet notes and floral undertones. To use, I just mix the honey to sweeten it or top off my foam with a homemade honey simple syrup.
10. Condensed Milk
I’ve used all kinds of sweeteners, both artificial and natural. But sweetened condensed milk has quickly become a favorite with its flavor being reminiscent of my first taste of Vietnamese-style coffee.
It adds an irresistibly creamy and caramel-like sweetness. Plus, it can replace part or all of the regular milk usually added.
11. Simple Syrups
Who doesn’t love a touch of vanilla or caramel in their coffee? I’m a fan of chocolate syrup myself, but why limit yourself to the traditional when there are so many other unique flavors out there to try?
Honestly, I’m obsessed with lavender syrup. It’s light and floral, perfect for sipping on during spring mornings. And when I want to indulge my sweet tooth, I mix toasted marshmallow syrup with some chocolate for a delicious s’mores-inspired drink.
Another favorite is cheesecake syrup – trust me, it’s like drinking dessert straight from the cup. Bourbon caramel will hit the spot for those who crave something rich.
Up next are some of my seasonal favorites, plus Starbucks-inspired flavors:
12. Pumpkin Spice
When it comes to seasonal drinks, this has got to be one of my top picks. It’s like a warm hug in a cup that perfectly captures the essence of fall with its pumpkin puree and spices.
It’s sweet and spicy but not overwhelmingly so – just enough to get you into the autumnal spirit without feeling too sugary or heavy. Plus, since it’s a cold brew, you can enjoy it anytime, not just as a cozy evening treat.
13. Peppermint Mocha
What better way to celebrate the Yuletide season than with a healthy dose of peppermint mixed with chocolate and topped off with cream?
Most winter beverages give us insight that peppermint syrup is indeed representative of the winter holidays. If you’re still hung up on ideas for that late Christmas Eve toast then consider this treat.
14. Salted Caramel
The delicate harmony between sweet and salty flavors is something I never get tired of. Sure a salted caramel flavor can be found in almost anything but that doesn’t diminish its value. In fact, it’s one of the classic savory-meets-sweet combos that is a crowd favorite.
15. French Vanilla
From the first sip, you can taste the way the chocolatey notes blend with the sweet vanilla creating an incredible taste experience that’s both smooth and satisfying.
Another thing to rave about this drink is its caramelized, and custard-like taste. Every sip is a decadent treat making it the perfect pick-me-up for any time of day.
16. Imitation Nitro
This is one of the more innovative cold brew trends on this list. Its trademark infusion of nitrogen is what gives the coffee an extra smooth and creamy texture.
I recommend that nitro cold brew be enjoyed unsweetened to fully appreciate the unique flavor produced by the cold brewing process. It’s remarkable how much complexity and depth of taste there is without any added sugar or cream.
Frequently Asked Questions
Still got reservations about making cold brew coffee? I’ll answer some of those questions next.
I hope I’ve given you a peek into the vast world of cold brew flavors waiting to be discovered. From sweet goodness to spicy finishes, there are so many ways to mix and match that there’s no doubt you’ll find one that caters to your palate.
With this article as your guide, I hope you feel confident making delicious and personalized cold brews every time. Comment below on which flavor you’re most excited to test out first.