by William Sieber,
Director Coffee & Tea Flavor Division
Melchers Flavors of America,
has been flavored with spices such as cinnamon and cardamom for
centuries. But it wasn't until the early 1980s that American roasters
began to enhance gourmet coffee with commercially processed flavorings.
Melchers Flavors of America, Inc. pioneered this concept, and currently
offers 40,000 recipes for application on gourmet coffee beans and
Today, "flavored"coffees are available worldwide, but
what is a flavor?
Flavors fall into the following categories:
Artificial Flavors: Artificial
flavors are a complex mixture of synthetic ingredients that are
approved for use in the Code of Federal Regulations of the United
States Food and Drug Administration or are generally recognized
as safe (GRAS) in a reliable industry publication. Synthetic aroma
chemicals are typically produced by a controlled chemical reaction.
Natural and Artificial Flavors:
These types of flavors consist of a complex mixture of synthetic
ingredients and natural ingredients. Natural ingredients include
essential oils, floral absolutes, CO2 extracts, fluid extracts,
solid extracts, natural aroma chemicals, resinoids, etc.
Natural Flavors: Using
an apple flavor as an example, these flavors are further defined
into the following sub-categories:
1) Natural Apple Flavor:
One-hundred percent of the ingredients in this type of flavor are
derived from an apple except for the solvent(s), which may be synthetic.
2) Natural Apple WONF:
Ingredients from an apple are mixed "with other natural flavors"
for the purpose of additional enhancement and economy. The solvent(s)
may be synthetic.
3) Natural Apple Type Flavor:
One hundred percent natural ingredients from sources other than
an apple that replicate the taste and aroma of the title flavor.
The solvent(s) may be synthetic.
4) Natural Flavors for Organically Certified
Coffees and Teas: Any of the
above flavors that have been modified to include "all natural
GMO-free" ingredients including the solvent(s). "GMO-free"
ingredients are those that are free of genetically modified organisms.
Natural flavorings are typically
more expensive to produce than artificial or natural and artificial flavorings due to the availability and price of the
respective raw materials. Dosages of flavorings for whole-bean and
ground coffees are usually between 2.0% and 4.5%, depending on the
blend of beans, roasting parameters and the customer's subjective
opinion of the final taste profile. Propylene glycol is the common
solvent for most coffee flavorings, with the exception of those
used for organically certified coffees, in which case natural GMO-free
solvents are used with other natural GMO-free ingredients. Propylene
glycol is synthetic and is an economical water soluble solvent.
Propylene glycol also acts as an anti-microbial agent.
Industrial strength flavors are not "extracts" or "oils"
and cannot be evaluated by smelling or tasting until they are applied
at the recommended dosage to the whole beans or ground coffee and
brewed. An industrial strength vanilla flavor created for coffee
application may contain 10-15% vanillin (principle taste component),
but a vanilla extract as sold in a grocery store contains only 17/100-22/100
of 1% vanillin by federal definition. Knowing this fact, one can
understand the disparity between industrial strength flavors and
household "extracts." Oils, or essential oils, are ingredients
used to make industrial strength flavors. Essential oils such as
East Indian nutmeg, Ceylonese cinnamon, and American peppermint
are singular components, which when blended together with other
ingredients, create a finished flavor.
As a general rule, coffee roasters should handle flavors with care.
Although the ingredients are "food grade," they can still
cause irritation to eyes, skin, hands, etc. We recommend coffee
roasters use latex gloves and safety glasses when they handle flavors
and a dish detergent for clean up. At all times, flavors should
be stored at room temperature away from heat and light. Ideally,
a coffee roaster should dedicate a separate area for flavoring coffees,
thus eliminating the possibility of flammable fumes coming into
contact with the open gas flame of a roasting apparatus or cross-contamination
of unflavored coffees and paper products.
coffee roasters who has any additional questions regarding flavors
is invited to visit our Web site @ www.melchersflavors.com.