9 Surprising Things to Add to Your Coffee (Beyond Cream & Sugar)

Smart Coffee For Regular Joes

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While there are certainly coffee purists out there who advocate for black, black and black, there's no denying that adding an extra ingredient to your cup once in a while provides for a fun change to your normal coffee routine. No, I'm not talking about cream and sugar. Here are nine more surprising additions for those looking for a way to give that cup of coffee a little extra flair.

  1. Cardamom - A spice that's commonly added to coffee in the Middle East, cardamom gives coffee a bit of an exotic flavor. Cardamom, commonly used in Ayurvedic medicine, is promoted as an addition to coffee because it helps to neutralize the stimulating effects of caffeine. Sprinkle ground cardamom into a cup of brewed coffee, or add a few whole cardamom seeds to your beans before you grind them.
  2. Salt - Salt is often mentioned as a good addition to coffee in order to soften the bitterness. Some people add it directly to their grounds before brewing, but if you're using good beans, you shouldn't need to neutralize any overly bitter flavors. That being said, salt can be a great addition to cold brew, and many people swear by a dash of it to help maximize the flavor of their cold coffee.
  3. Cinnamon - If you're a regular cream and sugar person, you may want to consider switching up your routine and adding cinnamon instead. Doing so can apparently save you several calories per cup, as well as reportedly provide a few additional health benefits, like helping to boost your immune system. You can even brew your coffee with a cinnamon stick to replicate the Mexican drink cafe de olla.
  4. Butter - Wait, what's the deal with butter in coffee? Wellness experts, and particularly the Paleo crowd, swear by the buttery morning drink, after a guy named Dave Asprey came up with the original recipe, calling it "Bulletproof Coffee." The idea, inspired by traditional Tibetan yak butter tea, is that adding butter to your morning drink boosts energy. Some even use it as a replacement for breakfast.
  5. Booze - While you may not want a shot in your coffee first thing in the morning, adding alcohol to coffee is nothing new. Irish coffee is a well-known classic, and in Sweden there's even a traditional coffee drinking method called "kaffekask" or "kaffegök" which involves adding strong distilled liquor like vodka. Some people also refer to this as Russian Coffee. Whatever you call it, there's no denying that a spiked cup of coffee is sure to put a spin on your normal drink.
  6. Vanilla Extract - If you like to sweeten your coffee, you don't need to depend on sugar and processed creamers. Try a few drops of pure vanilla extract instead. For a different taste, you can also try almond extract.
  7. Coconut Milk - Craving a non-dairy latte? Make your own with coffee and coconut milk. Some may not like the coconut flavor that comes through, but for those who do, it provides for an interesting alternative to regular milk. Mix it with vanilla extract for a homemade coffee creamer.
  8. Ice Cream - A scoop of ice cream floating on top of your cup of coffee? Why not. This will turn your coffee into more of a dessert drink, but on a warm summer day it might be the treat you're looking for. In fact, there's even a German drink called Eiskaffee that's a blended drink made with coffee and ice cream.
  9. Egg - While mixing a raw egg with your coffee grounds may not be your first thought in the morning, it's a drink that hails from the Nordic countries of Scandinavia. Why add an egg? The idea is that it clarifies the coffee, leaving a perfectly colored drink with no sediment. Want to go out on the proverbial coffee limb and try it? Here's a how-to video.

I'd love to hear about other coffee add-ins you've experimented with!

(Image credits: epsos.de under CC BY 2.0; Chris Perez)