The Best Spice Pairings That Will Elevate The Flavor Of Coffee

Sometimes, life's simple pleasures fall short of more pressing morning duties, like getting to work on time. We hope these occasions are less frequent for you than the mornings that allow for a few extra moments of peace. Some might use these deliberately slow starts as an opportunity to make their favorite breakfast instead of grabbing a granola bar on the way out the door. Others might jump at the chance to go for a long walk in the fresh air. As for the caffeine-dependent among us, we might trade canned cold brew for a slightly more involved coffee-making process. 

The next time you bust out your coffee gear, we highly recommend adding some spices to the mix to make that first sip of the day even more delightful (via Roasty Coffee). Whether you prefer to enjoy your coffee in liquid form or in a baked good, here are the best spices to bring out the roasted bean's complex flavors. 

A lemon for a lemon, a clove for a clove

Coffee snobs will be the first to tell you that the smells and flavors (or "notes") of your morning cup can be just as subtle and varied as wine. More often than not, a dozen cups of coffee from different producers within the same region will share a common flavor profile. While African beans tend to lean bright, fruity, and floral (per Vine Pair), coffee produced in Asia and Indonesia is often characterized by earthy, woody notes that are less acidic. If you detect chocolate on the nose, the beans might be from Costa Rica, Mexico, Guatemala, or Brazil (per The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf).

If you're looking to boost the natural flavors of your coffee, you can use the taste and smell of your favorite bean variety as your guide. The citrusy aroma of that single-origin bag of Ethiopian coffee you shelled out for would pair beautifully over ice with a squeeze of lemon for a take on the Algerian sweetened-coffee drink mazagran (via Homegrounds). If your coffee is giving warm notes of cinnamon and clove, try adding a cinnamon stick and a few crushed cloves to your beans while your coffee brews. Recipe developer Carolina Gelen drops a couple of crushed cardamon pods and a splash of vanilla extract into her French press for a little extra pizzaz (per Instagram). 

Like water for chocolate (and coffee)

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and also the freest. It's just as socially acceptable to start the morning by tucking into a classic plate of eggs and toast as it is to opt for a burger, a bowl of ramen, or any other dish you might call lunch. Likewise, it's more than wonted for your breakfast to call upon the dessert you had the night before — or, if you prefer the reverse, to add a little breakfast to your after-dinner sweet.

This brings us to using coffee in baked goods. Just like the rule of pairing your citrusy coffee with a slice of lemon or your earthy coffee with dried warm spices, ground beans, brewed coffee, or instant coffee can serve as a flavor booster for all kinds of desserts. Employed as a substitute for water or milk, brewed coffee does a similarly good job of hydrating doughs and batters, with the added benefit of infusing them with the noticeable taste of java (per Food & Wine).

According to King Arthur Baking Company research and development specialist Melanie Wanders, the acidic makeup of coffee can also lend itself to yeasted confections like cinnamon rolls and doughnuts, as it strengthens the "gluten networks" of the dough and makes it easier to work with. Partners Coffee buyer Samuel Klein told Food & Wine that room-temperature coffee can also be used in place of water in just about any brownie or cake recipe.