Better Brew: Best flavored coffee and creamers beyond dairy

For a lot of people, coffee is not just about their roast. They need their creamers and flavors. Here's how to do that better too!

I'm always intrigued by flavored coffee but so often disappointed. I think I'm getting Southern Pecan or Swiss Chocolate Almond...but all I taste is chemical aftertaste.

Kendra Sledzinski, a coffee educator at local chain Joe Coffee, says that's because the beans are drowned in chemicals to mimic a flavor. Instead, if you want a better flavor and to control how strong it is, consider a syrup.

"I'd say the best way if you really want an additive flavor in your coffee is to just add a syrup rather than buy coffee that is just coated in the flavor. That allows you to kind of exactly figure out how much you want of it. And you can easily make it at home," Sledzinski said.

No, really you can! Just boil equal parts water and sugar, then add in extracts you probably already have around for baking cakes and cookies.

"So making a vanilla coffee is as simple as making a simple syrup and adding in some vanilla," says Sledzinski.

You can do the same thing with hazelnut, chocolate, you name it!

But about that cream. A lot of people are moving away from dairy, or just curious to try new things. And boy do you have choices.

Here was Sledzinski's read on your options: Soy milks have gotten better but it takes some experimenting to find the one for you. Almond milk can be a bit bitter. But oat milk gives dairy a run for the money.

"Oat milk, it really does taste a lot like cereal milk in a way. But it's not that sweet and I don't think it really pulls from the flavor of the coffee. It also has a creamy texture," Sledzinski said.

As well, hemp milk is on the rise if you like a nutty flavor, but the next big trend is probably rice milk.

"I think rice milk really tastes fabulous with coffee. It's lightly sweetened. Imagine when you open a bag of rice, the sweet grain scent you have. That's what it tastes like too, with a hint of vanilla," said Sledzinski.

So give the creamers a try and see if something new works for you.

And I'm not done with coffee yet! On Tuesday, I've got an international coffee you can make at home that tastes like a dessert but has THREE times the jolt of an espresso. That'll get you out the door on a high and ready to take on the world. Here's to a better brew!
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