What are the Best Spices to Add to Coffee? (A New Dimension of Flavor)

Last Updated on July 21, 2023 by Barry Gray

I find that some people struggle with the concept of experimenting when it comes to coffee. They think it’s all about the beans and hot water while using the brewing method of their choosing, and to a large extent, that’s true.

But there are times when I like to effectively spice things up with my coffee and bring a new flavor to proceedings. 

You see, there’s more to coffee than just the flavor from the beans. As a drink, it’s possible to add some spice, but to get the best result, you need to know which spices to add.

Cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, and ginger are the best spices to add to coffee. You can experiment with others, but those four add something extra to the coffee without taking too much away from the flavor of the beans. 

And I think that last part is key as you don’t want the spice to overpower and effectively destroy the coffee taste. Instead, it should enhance and give you something new to enjoy rather than swamp the coffee flavor you are looking for.

But I know people will be sitting there wondering how best to add spice to their coffee, so don’t stress, as I’ve got your back.

adding spice to coffee

How to Add Cinnamon to Your Coffee

This isn’t done in any order of preference or popularity, so feel free to start your spice and coffee journey with any option you like. However, I’m going to kick things off by looking at cinnamon.

I see cinnamon as something of a classic spice. It adds a sense of warmth to the coffee while bolstering the sweetness levels.

But what I love about adding cinnamon is the way you can add it at different parts of the brewing process. This then changes the flavor of both the coffee and even the cinnamon, and I’m always interested in playing around with flavors.

Adding Ground Cinnamon to the Brewing Process

adding cinnamon powder to coffee

A popular way of adding cinnamon to coffee is to throw in some ground cinnamon powder at the start of the brewing process. I love this method because not only does it mean the cinnamon is completely infused with the coffee, but you also don’t get that gritty residue at the end.

But that’s not the only time or method for adding cinnamon.

Instead, you can sprinkle in some cinnamon once the coffee has been brewed. It does involve some stirring on your part, and the flavor of the cinnamon will not be quite as intense as it would be if you had infused it before the brewing began.

What Does Cinnamon and Coffee Taste Like?

I always feel adding cinnamon to coffee is more of a winter or festive thing. As I said, it gives that warmth to the drink, and the aroma it conjures up is terrific.

Yet cinnamon is not overpowering as a spice. It has more subtlety than you expect, and it also manages to bring the flavor of the coffee to life as well.

You will also find drinks such as a cinnamon latte available at most coffee shops, and it’s common to have some sprinkled on top of a cappuccino if you don’t want the chocolate finish.

How to Add Cardamom to Your Coffee

adding cardamom to your coffee

Another spice that works well with coffee is cardamom, and I know it’s perhaps not the first one you would think of. Yet, that would be an error on your part.

This Indian spice has the potential to really ramp up your coffee experience, and it has the potential to become your new favorite addition to your coffee.

Cardamom is a common ingredient in Turkish coffee, and it’s also often used in various locations throughout the Middle East. 

Adding Cardamom to Your Coffee

I’ve discovered that when adding cardamom to my coffee, it works best when you ground down the cardamom and add it to it before you start the brewing process. 

But here’s a tip. Make sure you grind down the cardamom to the same grind size as the coffee. In doing so, you get a more balanced result.

But I’m not finished with my tips on how to use cardamom.

Go easy with how much you add. Cardamom can smell quite intense, but the smell is nothing compared to the intense flavor it will add.

If you are not careful, the cardamom will quickly overpower the coffee.

What Does Cardamom and Coffee Taste Like?

Cardamom has a distinctive taste, and it’s not a flavor you would always associate with coffee. 

I see its taste as having some pepper, citrus, and even some type of pine smell to it. The aroma can be overwhelming, and it’s the type of flavor you won’t forget in a hurry.

I know this sounds completely different from what you get from coffee. Still, in this instance, these various flavors actually work well together.

Just remember to only use a small amount. It will become too much for the coffee if not careful.

How to Add Nutmeg to Your Coffee

adding nutmeg to coffee

Another spice that is commonly added to coffee is nutmeg, and it’s one I personally love. Again, it creates a sort of festive feel to your coffee, but I don’t think it’s only something you can use in those colder months.

If you have ever had a pumpkin latte at chains such as Costa Coffee, then you will have already encountered nutmeg in your coffee. 

Adding Nutmeg to Your Coffee

This is another spice that you need to add to your coffee before brewing. In doing so, you unlock the full flavor of the spice, and you are in for an absolute treat.

I admit I did start off with the smallest of pinches, and I recommend you do the same. You do need to add more than required with other spices, such as cardamom, as an example, but be aware it can become overpowering if you are too heavy-handed with the spice.

But I have a solution if you are worried about the taste being too much.

Instead of adding it to the coffee before brewing, sprinkle some nutmeg powder on the top of your latte coffee once it’s prepared. This results in a milder nutmeg experience, which could be an ideal way to introduce yourself to the spice.

What Does Nutmeg and Coffee Taste Like?

Nutmeg also manages to have its own distinct flavor, and it offers a warm and nutty taste to your coffee. 

I find there to be something quite comforting about both the aroma and taste of nutmeg. Still, I’m not sure I would pair it with coffee that also has nutty undertones. That would just be a bit too much for me.

And here’s something that may surprise some people. Nutmeg has the ability to make bitter coffee taste slightly more sweet without adding sugar.

I’m not 100% sure how it does this, but I tend to enjoy coffee that’s slightly on the bitter side, and my nutmeg did indeed make a difference. 

How to Add Ginger to Your Coffee

adding ginger to your coffee

You may come across ginger and coffee in different parts of the Middle East. Also, using ginger root may mean your coffee can help your digestion, as ginger is well known for improving digestive issues.

If you have ever had any sort of ginger drink, then you already know to expect that sense of warmth from the spice, and it’s no different in coffee. 

Adding Ginger to Your Coffee

You have a few options when adding ginger to your coffee. Using ginger powder is the quickest and easiest way, and it will still pack a punch from a taste perspective.

I add some ginger powder before the brewing process. It makes things taste more robust, but only use a pinch, or it will overwhelm you.

As with other spices, you can add it after the coffee is brewed if you prefer a more mellow taste, but I still feel it’s better when added at the outset.

But you also have fresh ginger as an option, and this is another way to add some ginger flavor to your coffee.

You can either chop up some fresh ginger and drop it in at the brewing process to allow the flavor to infuse or grate some to get even more flavor. Honestly, either option works well, but as with the powder, you need to go steady to avoid too much of a ginger kick.

What Does Ginger and Coffee Taste Like?

So, what should you expect from a flavor perspective when you add ginger to coffee? Well, there’s certainly some warmth from ginger and also a fiery touch.

But the fire and warmth will also give your coffee something of a comforting taste, and that’s the surprising part. Personally, I feel it makes the coffee somehow come alive, so if you have a dull coffee, then ginger could be the thing to bring it back to life.

My Recap on the Best Spices to Add to Coffee

I know people may wish to add alternative spices to their coffee. Still, the four I’ve mentioned are perhaps the best, in my opinion anyway. So, here’s my recap on the key points.

  • Cinnamon can be added either before brewing or after
  • Only use a small pinch of cardamom, as it’s potent
  • Nutmeg can be applied at brewing or sprinkled on top
  • You can use either powdered ginger or some ginger root
  • Most of the spices will add a sense of warmth to your coffee
  • Don’t use cardamom with a nutty coffee, as it will be overwhelming

I admit I never really thought about adding spice to my coffee in the early days. It was seeing people adding cinnamon to their coffee at a coffee shop that got me thinking about it.

Seriously, it’s something I recommend you try at least once in your life. 

My Conclusion

Adding spice to your coffee can be a game-changer, but just be aware of adding too much. At that point, it will destroy your coffee.

Spice is supposed to enhance rather than completely change the flavor. 

Also, please don’t see it as purely a festive thing, even though it gives you that feeling, as adding spice to your coffee is something you can do around the year. I think it’s time for you to try it and see how it changes your perception of your normal coffee.