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What's your secret ingredient for a unique cup of coffee?
January 29, 2012 5:35 PM   Subscribe

Coffee: Add a little cream, a little sugar... And? Or? Surely there are other options. What else do you add to mix it up a bit? What's your secret ingredient for a unique cup of coffee?
posted by 2oh1 to Food & Drink (70 answers total) 74 users marked this as a favorite
 
Amaretto for a special after-dinner coffee.
posted by j at 5:38 PM on January 29, 2012


Irish whiskey?
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 5:39 PM on January 29, 2012


A bit of cinnamon can be nice.
posted by lunasol at 5:39 PM on January 29, 2012 [5 favorites]


Maple syrup instead of sugar.
posted by jessamyn at 5:39 PM on January 29, 2012 [5 favorites]


espresso in a demitasse with a piece of lemon zest. Sugar, sometimes. The best ever.
posted by peachfuzz at 5:39 PM on January 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Not my personal secret, but in Mexico, you'll often see coffee brewed with a cinnamon stick. If you keep it whole, it only makes a small but very noticeable change.
posted by Gilbert at 5:40 PM on January 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


A friend of mine doing a non-dairy thing reportedly used to use coconut milk. This is via his now live-in girlfriend.

She kept dating him after he offered her that first strange cup of joe, FWIW. I hear he doesn't use the coconut milk anymore since they got serious!
posted by jbenben at 5:40 PM on January 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Espresso and dark rum.
posted by pompomtom at 5:40 PM on January 29, 2012


Soy milk and cinnamon
posted by dfriedman at 5:43 PM on January 29, 2012


Growing up in an Italian-American household, espresso meant a stovetop maker & Anisette. Too sweet for me now but then again that stovetop espresso was pretty bitter without it.
posted by mr vino at 5:44 PM on January 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


As with Gilbert's advice above -- try brewing it with a couple whole cardamom pods.

Sometimes I also got a packet of Swiss Miss instant hot cocoa and used coffee instead of the hot water for a cheap ersatz mocha latte (this is not something for people with more refined tastes, though, I wager).
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:49 PM on January 29, 2012 [4 favorites]


In addition to the marvelous Viennese coffee variations discussed here (though nobody mentioned the ones with egg yolks in them, which are quite unusual), I also like Cafe Mazagran and cafe de olla.
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:50 PM on January 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Almond milk. Honey instead of sugar.
posted by smirkette at 5:50 PM on January 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you accidentally drop in a good quality very dark piece of chocolate, it's pretty good.

Unless you would prefer to nibble and sip.

Your option.
posted by BlueHorse at 5:51 PM on January 29, 2012 [5 favorites]


Cafe Patron.
posted by jonmc at 5:55 PM on January 29, 2012


A very tiny pinch of salt. I'm not kidding. Makes massively sour/bitter coffee almost tolerable.
posted by spinifex23 at 5:56 PM on January 29, 2012 [14 favorites]


I'm here to second cardamom. You can sometimes buy coffee with cardamom already in it from Middle Eastern grocery stores.
posted by ninazer0 at 5:57 PM on January 29, 2012 [4 favorites]


Drinking it through a Tim Tam (a type of chocolate coated biscuit/cookie) better known as a Tim Tam Slam
posted by wwax at 5:59 PM on January 29, 2012 [4 favorites]


I sometimes sprinkle cardamom, cinnamon, or nutmeg into the grounds before brewing starts.
posted by That's Numberwang! at 6:00 PM on January 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


Underberg bitters!
posted by AkzidenzGrotesk at 6:03 PM on January 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


I third cardamom. My mother-in-law grinds cardamom pods in her coffee grinder to use in baking. This has a delicious aftereffect on coffee.

In winter I like to add a little frangelico and/or triple sec, and whipped cream on top. Mmm...

When I'm lazy, I sometimes add a few drops of vanilla essence. I'm sure there are classier ways to add vanilla flavour, though. I keep a vanilla pod in a bag of black tea leaves. Maybe I should try the same thing with my coffee beans.

Oh oh, and a small scoop of vanilla ice cream melts wonderfully. Sprinkle cinnamon on top.
posted by lollusc at 6:04 PM on January 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


Baileys Irish Cream. Mmmmm.

Thought this was Irish Coffee. I was quite surprised when I ordered it in a restaurant.
posted by China Grover at 6:09 PM on January 29, 2012


A very tiny pinch of salt. I'm not kidding. Makes massively sour/bitter coffee almost tolerable.

I have never tried adding salt but I was going to suggest it because I read all about it in a Tom Clancy novel. From I understand, it is "the Navy way". But I don't think they would just put a very tiny pinch in. You gotta mix in a macho-big pinch for that seawater smack.
posted by Bwithh at 6:13 PM on January 29, 2012


A shot of vanilla instead of sugar.
posted by taff at 6:15 PM on January 29, 2012


Nocello or black walnut bitters, optional freshly whipped cream.
posted by ifjuly at 6:16 PM on January 29, 2012


Hazelnut syrup. Just a tad.
posted by The ____ of Justice at 6:17 PM on January 29, 2012


Grappa
posted by francesca too at 6:19 PM on January 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ice cream, vanilla, chocolate or whatever appeals to yoy. For a quickie try chocolate milk
posted by misspat at 6:21 PM on January 29, 2012


Molasses (any kind, just not blackstrap) instead of sugar.
posted by Pallas Athena at 6:22 PM on January 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Simple switch of brown sugar instead of white.
posted by platypus of the universe at 6:23 PM on January 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


Someone recommended to me a very light sprinkle of cayenne on dark roast, but I haven't tried it yet.
posted by ohkay at 6:24 PM on January 29, 2012


A drop of anise extract.
posted by corey flood at 6:26 PM on January 29, 2012


Condensed milk.
posted by stoneandstar at 6:29 PM on January 29, 2012 [6 favorites]


Coffee with coconut milk is definitely improved by cardamom. It makes the coconut flavor seem on purpose instead of cobbled together.
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:44 PM on January 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


Egg nog.
posted by i_am_a_fiesta at 6:57 PM on January 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


Honey and soy milk.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 7:01 PM on January 29, 2012


Grand Marnier and whipped cream.

Kahlua and whipped cream.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 7:03 PM on January 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


http://puttingweirdthingsincoffee.com/
posted by Taft at 7:05 PM on January 29, 2012


Various flavors of Toriani syrup.
posted by PussKillian at 7:06 PM on January 29, 2012


Wow, there are some really neat suggestions here. Quite a few that would have never occurred to me in a million years. Awesome!
posted by 2oh1 at 7:06 PM on January 29, 2012


A variation on iced coffee:
1 part strong coffee
1 part sparkling water, and
simple syrup to taste, in a tall iced-filled glass. Nice!
Add 1 part kalhua for something special (delete the simple syrup).
posted by artdrectr at 7:23 PM on January 29, 2012


I have not tried café de olla but it looks extremely delicious. I'm going to try to make a version tomorrow morning but without cinnamon sticks. Or piloncillo. Basically I'm going to make coffee tomorrow with some ground cinnamon and brown sugar and mollasses mixed into the water.
posted by zrail at 7:38 PM on January 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm kind of snickering at how terrible this is, but a spoonful of caramel milk flavouring powder (we use Nesquik, if we use it at all) is delicious - but bad, probably not the sort of thing you'd admit to doing.
posted by thylacinthine at 7:57 PM on January 29, 2012


Grappa

Known as cafe corretto in Italy. Corrected coffee, literally.

I like their thinking.
posted by deadwax at 8:11 PM on January 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


whiskey

mmmmmm
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 8:18 PM on January 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


a spoonful of nutella or dulce de leche.
posted by ch3ch2oh at 8:52 PM on January 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


I have never tried adding salt but I was going to suggest it because I read all about it in a Tom Clancy novel. From I understand, it is "the Navy way". But I don't think they would just put a very tiny pinch in. You gotta mix in a macho-big pinch for that seawater smack.

I am not familiar with the Tom Clancy description, but I did have a whole lot of friends who were enlisted in the Navy. They added a tiny pinch of salt because they were dependent on coffee for alertness but it was generally burned/kinda crap -- nothing to do with seawater.

Myself, I like my coffee black with sugar, and am particularly fond of a good redeye (cup of coffee with a shot of espresso added.) It deepens the flavor and changes the mouthfeel of the coffee in a very satisfying way.
posted by desuetude at 8:59 PM on January 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


I also think this Pioneer Woman recipe for dulce de leche coffee looks delicious.
posted by lollusc at 9:05 PM on January 29, 2012


I like the salt, too. It started out as a way of covering for bad Navy coffee, but now it's kind of grown on me and coffee without it, even decent coffee, is missing something.
posted by ctmf at 9:07 PM on January 29, 2012


Sweetened condensed milk gives a distinct texture that I'm fond of, but it's not everyone's cup of...coffee. Also goes in tea.
posted by Hollywood Upstairs Medical College at 9:20 PM on January 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yep, we brew with ground cinnamon/cardamom/nutmeg (and/or) in the coffee, and I also really love Trader Joe's piñon nut coffee, so there must be something in that direction that's doable. We normally use honey instead of sugar. I also like high-quality egg nog instead of cream, once in a while, as mentioned above.

Just to + some of the things other people mentioned.
posted by wintersweet at 9:36 PM on January 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


In the morning I dump a scoop of chocolate whey protein into my coffee. And often add a dash of almond milk.
posted by vegartanipla at 10:11 PM on January 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Look up "ca phe sua da" - it's vietnamese coffee drink - with condensed milk as someone suggested earlier, there are tutorials on how to make it online.

also 2nding honey and cinnamon.
posted by baniak at 10:13 PM on January 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


As already mentioned, salt. Salt turns off or otherwise disrupts your bitter-flavor receptors and makes virtually any cup of coffee—good or naval—taste less bitter and a bit nutty. Good if those are attributes you like.
posted by bz at 12:08 AM on January 30, 2012


How about just warmed full cream milk?

Personally adding anything else is sacrilege... i presume when you say 'cream' you actually mean that horrific artificial 'creamer' they use in the US?
posted by mary8nne at 12:58 AM on January 30, 2012


I'm a cardamom or honey fan myself. For a few months, I used brownulated sugar, for reasons that are lost to history. Whenever this topic comes up, I like to turn people on to one of my favorite web sites: Putting Weird Things In Coffee.
posted by knile at 1:07 AM on January 30, 2012


Personally, I don't add anything to my coffee. I buy locally roasted quality beans which I grind myself and brew by hand. This kind of coffee needs absolutely nothing extra. Why would you want to mask a coffee's unique smell, taste and mouthfeel characteristics with additives?

That said, some very traditional coffee-based drinks do incorporate other ingredients. Mediterranean coffee can be made with equal parts sugar and powdered coffee but I like mine metrio, medium sweet. Arabic coffee is similar but cinnamon and cardamom or saffron and rose water can also be added.

You need a specialized coffee mill to get a fine enough grind for these drinks. Buying the coffee canned is acceptable in this case. It's not like you can taste the difference between fresh and canned when you are brewing with extremely hot water and all those spices.
posted by Orchestra at 1:31 AM on January 30, 2012


Unsalted butter. Just mix it in a blender and serve. It is deliciously creamy, but very different way from half and half.
posted by Teeth of the Hydra at 3:58 AM on January 30, 2012


Advocaat
posted by mosessis at 4:37 AM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, and bouncing of EC's hot cocoa packet suggestion--tons of really, really awesome craft chocolatiers around the country offer powdered chocolate mixes, presumably for hot cocoa and baking, but you can use them that way too. My first foray into that was Dagoba--I loved their Xocolatl bar and it turned out they had the same as a drinking mix in a tin--and it's yummy, I'm sure it'd be good in hot coffee too. To give it a kind of pepped up Aztecan drinking chocolate elixir energy thing. (Now I wonder if Taza has some...)
posted by ifjuly at 5:16 AM on January 30, 2012


A couple drops of Tabasco in black coffee really makes a difference.
posted by bricoleur at 6:59 AM on January 30, 2012


A friend of mine who worked for a fancy caterer said they would buy cheap decaf (so when anyone ordered decaf, they'd have it! Except that everybody else was drinking decaf too) and they would brew it with a pinch of salt and pepper - salt to neutralize the bitterness, black pepper to add some character.
posted by TheGoodBlood at 9:09 AM on January 30, 2012


pumpkin pie spice in my latte!
posted by np312 at 9:23 AM on January 30, 2012


Some ground hot pepper mixed in with the coffee grounds when brewing adds an interesting twist to a cup of coffee. Red pepper works. I'm using an ancho chili powder now and it's really good. I bet a chipotle would be tasty too.
posted by Balonious Assault at 9:56 AM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


I like cardamom or fresh ground nutmeg (a totally different quality than pre-ground). For me, cinnamon is too acrid and one-note in coffee, but when it is in Mexican chocolate grated into a cappucino that's pretty yummy. I have an espresso machine, and sometimes if I feel like steaming the milk with chocolate I pull the shot over fresh orange zest. Vanilla bean paste is also nice to stir in.
posted by oneirodynia at 11:20 AM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


A few drops of almond extract.
posted by kidsleepy at 11:34 AM on January 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


Try out some Malaysian kopitiam variations.
posted by divabat at 11:54 AM on January 30, 2012


Orange extract is the best of all my extracts with coffee. Presumably orange or orange peel works well as well.
posted by aniola at 1:00 PM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Green ginger wine, makes it a little alcoholic and ginger-y.

Coconut milk/cream.


Either of these things also go great in hot chocolate!
posted by Elysum at 3:46 PM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Thanks so much for all of the ideas. Yum!!!
posted by 2oh1 at 12:57 PM on February 4, 2012


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