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What is Cinnamon Coffee?

What is Cinnamon Coffee?

This month we’re launching two new coffees from roasters riding the incoming wave of ‘cinnamon coffee.’ Cinnamon coffee is a hot topic in the industry right now, and not without its controversies so we’re excited to bring these two roasteries on board who are exploring this flavour phenomenon.


UE Coffee Roasters - Cinnamon Coffee Chipp Coffee Roasters - Cinnamon Coffee
Ue Coffee Roasters Chipp Coffee Roasters


Simply speaking, Cinnamon Coffee it’s a coffee that tastes like cinnamon. But this new trend in the coffee community goes far beyond adding a splash of cinnamon syrup into a latte or those awful flavoured instant coffees; it starts with how the coffee is processed. Rather than adding a flavour to an existing coffee; the new trend for cinnamon coffee has flavour built into the beans themselves. But how this is done is another topic of contention…


How is cinnamon coffee made?

There are two schools of thought on how to create a cinnamon coffee:

Cinnamon notes are naturally present in some coffees, depending on the varietal and the growing conditions: By using a process called anaerobic fermentation with the coffee cherries; the cinnamon notes can be enhanced and brought forward naturally. Therefore a coffee can taste remarkably like cinnamon, without having any cinnamon added to it at all.

Alternatively; adding cinnamon to the coffee, either at the fermentation stage, or later on to the green coffee; will infuse the coffee, once roasted, with a strong cinnamon flavour.

Either way a coffee denoted as specifically ‘cinnamon coffee’ will, however it’s brewed, be unmistakable in its flavour. Adding extra ingredients during processing of coffee beans is not a new idea and can also be done with fruit to have a different impact on the beans themselves.


What’s the difference between tasting notes & flavour?

Each specialty coffee will come with specific tasting notes on the bag. This refers to the unique taste-profile of the coffee. This can be influenced by coffee varietal, altitude, growing environment, processing method and how it has been roasted. All of these variables will come together to create the unique character of the coffee when it is cupped, or tasted.

If a coffee has tasting notes of, say; apricot, it doesn’t mean the coffee contains apricot, but that there are notes within it which are reminiscent of apricots.

The difference with flavoured coffees is that they are, in fact, flavoured with a certain ingredient or (depending on the method) processed in such a way that the resemblance to a particular flavour is unmistakable and striking.


Why the controversy?

Many roasters and farmers producing this type of coffee remain somewhat secretive about how they achieve a distinct cinnamon flavour; there are some who suggest that ingredients may be being added but not disclosed. It’s tricky for coffee professionals to come down on one side of the fence or the other, without transparency from producers.

As stated, adding flavouring into the fermentation or processing stage is not new, though historically it has been done to mask a lower-quality harvest or mislead buyers on the true nature of the coffee. So it’s unsurprising there is a certain level of scepticism for this type of coffee. However, more recently the mantle has been adopted by producers of specialty coffee looking to offer something with a unique twist. Zach Chipp, of Chipp Coffee Roasters advises that consumers can easily tell the difference between a truly superior cinnamon coffee, as opposed to one that is masking poor quality beans,

Chipp Coffee Roasters

“Usually, it's quite easy to tell, the beans are often dark roasted, oily and are joined in a lineup of other stomach-wrenching flavours like "chocolate orange" or "irish cream"... It's also very unlikely you'll be able to find any info on the farm or who produced it, so no matter if you're buying "flavoured" coffee or not always look for traceability back to the farm.”

He argues that often specialty flavoured coffees are created during the processed stage, as opposed to the inferior coffees whose flavour is added after roasting.

“Low grade, predominantly commercial-grade coffees that have had the life roasted out of them and then flavoured after: The difference in flavouring here is how and when it happens, speciality grade "flavoured" coffees have had another natural ingredient adding during the fermentation or drying stage of processing, it will then go for drying, sorting and grading.

“Whereas the aforementioned low grade "flavoured" coffee could be any old commercial-grade coffee that has usually been roasted quite dark and then quenched (sprayed with water to quicken the cooling process) as it comes out of the roaster but instead of water they use these flavourings, quite often artificial flavourings mixed with water.

“However, If the producer can take a solid 85 point coffee and add a couple more points on there through processing techniques, why not?! It's good for the producer and it's good for everyone enjoying drinking it.”


What’s the future of flavoured coffee?

Though they are often seen as a novelty offering, specialty cinnamon coffees are gaining in popularity and recognition throughout the coffee world.

Having said that, a certain level of industry snobbishness towards flavoured coffee from purists is also at play here: Can a coffee be considered specialty if flavour has been added to during the processing? These types of coffees appear now & then at competition level though, for whatever reason, do not generally perform well. But with a growing consumer base – perhaps coffee lovers will settle the debate by voting with their feet? Either way; flavoured coffee is certainly not going away anytime soon, so maybe it’s time to try some for yourself?




Try the cinnamon coffees on our shop


UE Coffee - Colombia Finca El Oasis Micro-Lot Coffee Beans - 200g

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Chipp Coffee - Luz Mila - Colombia Cinnamon Anaerobic Coffee Beans - 250g

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