You change your hairstyle. You change your music playlists. You change your clothes — hopefully. Now, it's time to wake up and change your morning coffee routine. Exploring new flavors and ingredients is a great way to elevate that cup of joe into a cup of joy every time. Plus, you'll get to impress your friends and coworkers when they witness your inner barista brewing up specialty coffee drinks every day with ease.
Things to Add to Morning Coffee
The easiest way to switch up morning coffee is by adding new ingredients to your coffee after its brewed.
In this guide, we'll discuss 13 creative things to add to your morning cup that'll enhance the flavors, textures and overall drinking experience. Some ingredients also provide a bonus health boost, because who says coffee can't be healthy and delicious?
Ready to explore a whole new world of flavors and combinations for your coffee? Consider these new ingredients when switching up your morning coffee:
Creamer may seem like a basic place to start a list of ways to change your morning coffee routine.
Ask yourself, "when was the last time I actually tried a new one?" The burgeoning market of coffee creamers today has introduced a tidal wave of new dairy and non-dairy options to splash into your morning mug.
New creamers also mean the chance to replicate some of your favorite seasonal coffee flavors, only now year-round. Consider any of the following creamers when switching up morning coffee:
- Dairy milk: The traditional coffee-and-cream pairing never goes astray. Go old school by adding a dash of whole or half-and-half to your morning coffee, particularly to mellow out acidic beans.
- Alternative milk: Soy, almond, oat, rice, hemp, cashew, walnut, coconut — oh my. If you've tried and liked one, you'll probably like more.
- Sweetened condensed milk: Sweetened condensed milk is a staple ingredient commonly found in coffee drinks in many countries, like Thailand and Vietnam.
- Flavored creamers: From store-bought pumpkin spice latte to homemade peppermint patty, flavored creamers add pop and complexity to a freshly-brewed cup of joe.
2. Flavored Syrups
Flavored coffee syrups are a popular and straightforward way to sweeten your coffee. These syrups also open the door to brewing and creating a variety of drinks previously only available when ordered at a coffee shop or cafe. Home-brewed caramel macchiato, anyone?
When measured and used properly, a syrup's sweetness complements many of the notes inherent to coffee beans, such as vanilla, nuts, toasted coconut and even fruit. The result is a more elegant cup of home-brewed coffee with flavor finesse you can adjust to your liking — and general preference on daily sugar intake.
Stock up on these popular types of flavored coffee syrups to deck out your home coffee cart:
- French toast
- Pumpkin spice
Chocolate and coffee are true best friends. The creamy, velvety qualities of chocolate help soften the bold, rich, innate bitterness of coffee beans — without either overpowering the other.
Try adding chocolate in its many sacred forms to your morning cup, such as:
- A 0.3 oz. chocolate square: A miniature dark or milk chocolate square is easy to drop into your mug, pour coffee over and then watch melt oh-so-deliciously away.
- Cacao nibs: Sprinkling cacao nibs into coffee adds a nutty, earthy quality to your drink. For the strongest flavors, grind together some cacao nibs with your whole beans instead of adding them after-the-fact.
- Unsweetened cocoa/cacao powder: Unsweetened cocoa and cacao powder are ideally minimally processed, letting your body reap the full health benefits of this antioxidant super agents, from reducing inflammation to managing blood sugar levels. Be cautious with traditional hot cocoa powder, though, which likely contains processed ingredients and lots of added sugars.
Yes, you read that right.
Adding citrus to coffee provides both flavor and quality-enhancing properties — this is because citrus helps neutralize bitter and acidic cups of coffee, especially those made from over-oxidized grounds.
Flavor-wise, small amounts of citrus juice, peels and zest can add brightness and crispness to your cup. Plus, a little bit goes a long way.
Citrus is best paired with lighter and medium-roast coffees. If these blends call your name, try adding any of the following to your next glass, allowing peels or rinds to seep for a minute before removing and enjoying your creation:
- Orange peel
- Lemon juice or zest
- Grapefruit rind
Look to spices to spice up your morning coffee — literally.
Adding spices to coffee carries a warming, flavorful effect that boosts the quality of your drink as well as its health properties. Spices offer one of the healthiest ways to enhance your home-brews, as they are packed with phytochemicals and nutrients.
Don't just take our word for it. It's science — try any of the following:
- Cinnamon: Cinnamon has been shown to help stabilize blood sugar, support heart health and even improve Type II diabetes. With or without these health benefits, though, a dash of cinnamon in your coffee brings a sweet little pop with every sip — and is reminiscent of those seasonal pumpkin spice coffee drinks we all know we love.
- Nutmeg: Like cinnamon, nutmeg has a sweet-spicy kick that improves blood circulation, heart health and immune system functions.
- Cardamom: Seep yourself in history by adding one of the world's oldest-cultivated spices to your morning coffee. Cardamom carries a sharp, earthy taste that pairs perfectly with light and dark-roast coffee alike.
- Ginger: Ginger brings a true kick to cups of coffee — and has a laundry list of health benefits to boot. Plus, you've likely already enjoyed it in popular drinks like chai teas and chai lattes.
We're not saying dive head-first into the bulletproof coffee craze — but adding a small dollop of grass-fed butter (which is higher in omega-3s, vitamin A, vitamin K and beta carotene) to your morning cup lends a rich, unctuous creaminess that most artificial coffee creamers try to mimic.
How much butter to add to your coffee is up to you. Classic recipes call for one to two tablespoons per cup of coffee, though you may wish to start on the lower end, adjusting to the thicker, velvety texture of bulletproof coffee — and boasting to friends you get to have butter for breakfast.
7. Alternative Natural Sweeteners
Kick sugar to the curb once and for all — or at least reduce its intake first thing in the morning — by turning to other forms of natural sweeteners for your morning and afternoon brews.
Many of these natural sweeteners are available at your nearby grocery store — if you don't already have them in your pantry. For example, try any of the following to sweeten your morning cup of coffee more healthily while also adding subtle flavor twists:
- Maple syrup
- Coconut sugar (lower on the glycemic index due to its inulin content)
8. Vanilla Extract/Vanilla Bean
Coffee cream and sugar lovers, rejoice — this ingredient is for you, sans the guilt or calorie counting.
Vanilla bean and vanilla extract offer the same subtle sweetness as cream and sugar in coffee. However, you now get both of these flavors from a few drops or a tiny scoop from a fresh pod, offering a healthier coffee-flavoring alternative.
Vanilla bean works particularly well to flavor coffee when added straight into the grounds before brewing. The longer the vanilla beans sit with grounds, the stronger its flavors and aromas will be.
Alternatively, use real vanilla extract — not the artificial or imitation kind — to change up your source of sweetness in an individual cup of coffee, hot or iced.
9. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil lends all the creamy, rich and unctuous flavor notes people love and seek in their coffee creamers.
However, as a plant-based product, coconut is attractive for a wide range of coffee drinkers with dietary restrictions, lactose issues or just generally looking to reduce the amount of animal products they consume.
Die-hard coconut oil advocates swear adding a tablespoon into your cups increases energy, revs up metabolism, sharpens mental acuity and keeps you feeling fuller for longer. We don't have quite the same agenda. We're just here because it tastes great.
Collagen is another trending product in the health-and-wellness world, lauded for its joint, skin, tissue and hair-health benefits. It's also relatively flavorless, turning it into an attractive choice for anyone wanting to make their morning coffee just a wee bit healthier.
This protein-packed substance is typically sold as a powder. This makes collagen an easy mix-in for your morning hot or iced coffee, with or without additional flavorings and ingredients to elevate your entire morning coffee ritual.
11. Mushroom Powder Adaptogens
Adaptogens have been all the rage this past year, touted for their abilities to reduce stress signals and inflammation in the body as well as regulate hormones and keep bodily functions in homeostasis.
Adaptogen mushrooms, in particular, are a popular choice among health aficionados, alongside other healing herbs and roots used for centuries in Chinese, Indian and other Eastern traditions. Health food and supplement stores carry powdered forms of mushroom adaptogens, including:
- Lion's Mane
- Turkey's Tale
- And more
Sound a little too granola for you? No worries. We like it for the earthy notes and smooth finish it lends when mixed with coffee. Try yours with a sprinkle of cinnamon, nutmeg or cacao powder for a truly transcendent experience — in your mug.
12. Peppermint Oil Extract
Peppermint oil extract replicates some of your favorite flavored syrups, yet won't contain any sugar or hidden ingredients.
Extracted from the peppermint plant — which itself is a cross between spearmint and water mint — peppermint adds a refreshing bite to the naturally deep, rich flavors of coffee. Combine it with creamer, alternative milk or coconut oil, and you're in for a truly decadent cup of coffee, sure to satisfy your taste buds at any point in the day. Bonus points if you add chocolate.
Remember to only add a few drops of pure peppermint oil extract into a coffee pot, or a single drop or two into individual glasses. The strong, green notes can easily overpower the rest of the coffee instead of integrating and balancing flavors for that delicious, smooth drink.
Okay, maybe save this one for your weekend cup of coffee. After all, aren't weekends for letting your hair down?
Adding alcohol to coffee is a common practice not just at brunch with friends, but around the world. In Nordic countries, coffee is combined with liquor to create "kaffekask" or "kaffegok." Similarly, Irish coffee recipes abound, rum and coffee drinks exist in Central America and creme liqueurs are used in spiked Turkish coffee and tea recipes for an extra dose of flavor and fun.
See how you can mix and match your favorite spirits and liqueurs into your weekend home cups of coffee. You'll feel your inner barista and bartender coming out in no time.
Flavored Beans and Syrup Recipes for Coffee
A true coffee connoisseur looking to break out of their rut can instantly enliven their coffee routine with two signature ingredients:
- Flavored coffee beans
- DIY coffee flavored syrup recipes
1. Flavored Coffee Beans
Flavored coffee beans have been coated with natural or synthetic oils to enhance the brew's flavors, making your coffee taste like it already contains unique ingredients.
These oils can be extracted from a range of other foods, including nuts, berries, spices, sweeteners, mint leaves, vanilla bean, cacao and much more. Some of the most popular flavored bean types include:
- Vanilla bean
- English toffee
- Creme brulee
- Chocolate hazelnut
- Peppermint mocha
- And more
The best flavored coffee beans can be purchased directly from roasters. Buying from a roaster also means you can ask questions directly about the quality of the oils used to flavor your beans, the roasting process and more, ensuring you get the exact product you're looking for.
2. Flavored Coffee Syrup Recipe
Homemade syrups for your coffee are surprisingly easy to whip up. Once brewed, syrups become a go-to thing to add to your morning coffee to enhance its complexity, sweetness and overall enjoyment held there in your mug.
Follow this basic recipe to make your own flavored coffee syrups:
- Combine equal parts water and sugar: All syrup recipes begin by slowly stirring together equal cups of water with equal cups of sugar over low heat. Stir until all sugar dissolves.
- Add syrup flavoring of your choice: Once your simple syrup base begins bubbling, stir in your desired flavorings. Keep whisking all ingredients together for one to two minutes, then remove from heat.
- Cool, seal and store: Allow your syrup to completely cool, then use mason jars or similar airtight storage containers for your freshly brewed coffee flavorings.
Consider using the following in your coffee syrup creations, including:
- Vanilla bean or extract
- Peppermint oil
- Almond extract
- Fresh berries (raspberries, blackberries, etc.)
Other Ways to Change Up Morning Coffee
Besides adding new ingredients, how else can you switch up your morning coffee to reach new levels of deliciousness? We've got a few ideas:
1. Change the Temperature
Always drinking that morning cup piping hot, fresh from the french press or Moka pot? Perhaps it's time to foray into cold brew coffee or keep things even more straightforward with batch iced coffee brewed and enjoyed whenever you please.
Switching between hot and cold coffee throughout the week helps your routine from turning too repetitive. Plus, it adds to your brewing-method repertoire by teaching you new ways to serve and enjoy coffee — a true connoisseur's win-win.
2. Froth Your Milk or Creamer
All types of traditional dairy and alternative milk creamers can be frothed at home with simple, handheld tools.
To froth milk for coffee, simply pour milk into your coffee mug, then proceed to warm it in the microwave. You can also warm your milk on low to medium heat on your stovetop in a small saucepan, then transfer the milk over to a mug once ready.
After heating your base, use your frother to whisk and beat the milk until it reaches your desired foaminess. Congratulations — you've just unlocked home-brewed lattes, cappuccinos, flat whites and more drinks requiring textured milk.
Better yet, you don't even need a dedicated frother to foam your warmed milk. Other kitchen tools can be used to hack frothed milk, including a french press, whisk or traditional blender.
3. Add a Dash of Salt
A pinch of salt instantly takes care of overly astringent or bitter coffee, especially when stuck with old grounds.
Like citrus peels and rinds, salt chemically counteracts bitter flavors, creating a drink with a gentler, smoother aftertaste. Any kind of salt here will do the trick, though many save that fancy Celtic sea salt you got as a gift for other recipes and dish inspirations where it can truly shine.
4. Freeze Flavored Ice Cubes
Make your own flavored ice cubes, then drop a few in your morning glass before adding your cold brew or iced coffee.
As the cubes melt, they release their creaminess, extracts or fruit flavors — whenever you've chosen as your base flavoring.
Select from any of the following homemade ice cube recipes to keep your routine as fresh as it is refreshing:
- Mint ice cubes
- Berry ice cubes
- Vanilla bean ice cubes
- Dark chocolate ice cubes
- Chai ice cubes
- Coconut cream ice cubes
- Kahlua or Bailey's Irish Cream ice cubes
- Coffee ice cubes
5. Enhance the Beans Themselves
Sure, you can add extra ingredients to your coffee after you've poured it into your mug. Or, you could get creative with your coffee craft from the other end by adding additional goodies as you grind your beans.
Similar to pre-flavored coffee beans you can buy from a roaster or the store, enhancing bean flavors straight into the grounds creates a robust new flavor profile for an entire bulk batch. From nuts and raw vanilla bean pods to sweeteners and spices, these flavor enhancers improve the taste of your coffee straight at its source.
6. Treat Yourself
Still searching for the ultimate indulgence to break away from your coffee rut? Look no further than your local coffee shop.
Going out once in a while for a made-to-order cup of coffee right away in the morning will have you starting your day off on the right foot. It doesn't get much better than that, folks.
Going out for coffee also opens up new possibilities for drinks and brews you simply couldn't make at home, plus a freshly baked pastry — or two — on the side. Go ahead, treat yourself.