What you need to know about coffee flavourings


For those who don’t like their coffee black or who just wish to add a bit of extra taste, powdered or liquid flavourings are just the thing. With a single spoonful or splash, you can turn an ordinary cup of office coffee into something exotic, sweet and dessert-like. But what you don’t know about those flavourings may hurt you. Here’s the inside scoop on those extra spices and seasonings you add to your coffee. Sugar bombs The first thing you need to be aware of is just how much sugar is packed into a serving of liquid flavouring syrup such as the bottles you can buy at the market or those used in cafés to create specialty drinks. Most of them are pure sugar mixed with various ingredients to make it taste like a particular flavour. Not only will you be drinking an entire day’s allotment of sugar (particularly if you have more than one cup), for those who are trying to follow a low-carb diet, coffee syrups are a big no-no. Of course, you can always opt for a sugar free version, but for purists, that is not the best option. May contain wheat If you suffer from celiac disease, you may be surprised to know that some coffee flavourings, particularly in the powdered form, contain wheat or wheat extracts. Once again, if you are following a low-carb diet, that makes them off limits. Look for ingredients like caramel colouring or flavouring, emulsifiers, maltodextrin, dextrimaltose and modified food starch that alert you to the fact that the coffee flavouring may be glutinous. Turning coffee into an unhealthy beverage Many recent studies have shown coffee to be a healthy beverage that it is calorie-free and seems to help prevent type 2 diabetes, dementia, Parkinson’s disease, heart arrhythmia, strokes and some types of cancer. But when you add coffee flavourings made from chemicals and laden with sugar and preservatives, you might be negating coffee’s healthful benefits. In particular, diabetics suffer from the body’s inability to regulate blood sugar and adding a sugary additive to their cup of coffee could be detrimental to their health. The best way to flavour your coffee If at all possible, opt for flavoured syrups that use natural extracts. If sugar or carbohydrates are an issue, try to find a flavouring that uses a natural, non-sugar sweetener such as stevia. Beware labels that say things like 'vanilla flavoured', which could indicate that the product doesn’t use real vanilla bean extracts. Flavoured coffees are quite popular but do beware of how their ingredients might affect your health. Drunk in moderation, coffee by itself is a healthy drink so if you wish to keep it that way, you may want to skip added flavourings which contain sugar, preservatives, chemicals and possibly even wheat. Image: Celtic-Visions/Flickr