Coffee houses have become calendar barometers as they offer unique flavors to herald in new seasons and the holidays. The tropical fruity iced lattes of the summer are quickly being replaced by hot and steamy brews laced with autumnal spices and fruits of the harvest. As a native Canuck, I am a perennial green tea drinker, but for the coffee bean addicts here are some fresh fall flavors to add to your caffeine repertoire.
Starbucks is serving up a Pumpkin Spiced Latte, a liquid blend of traditional fall spices squirted into a cup of its signature espresso, and an iced version for those sweaty September days. If you're not in the mood for mocha, a steamy cup of apple juice would be a good pick.
Caribou Coffee, the Minneapolis-based chain, offers fall-flavored coffees and coffee-flavoring shots to be infused in the traditional coffee drinks, snagging one-third of its coffee sales. Seasonal specials kicking off this month are Pumpkin Pie Latte and Hot Apple Blast. As the holidays roll around, other items added to the list include Fa-La-La Eggnog Latte, Ho-Ho-Ho Mocha blending white chocolate, mint and candy cane flavors and Gingerbread Latte.
Door County Coffee and Tea Company features Apple Cobbler with an almond pastry essence, Autumn Spice bursting with cinnamon, Caramel Apple, Tangy Cranberry Crème, Toasted Praline, Pumpkin Spice and a maple-flavored brew.
Gloria Jean's also has a fall line-up starting with Pumpkin Spice without the pie calories, Amaretto, a rich nutty blend of almonds and cherries, Cafe L'orange with a sweet orange aroma and cognac essence, Butter Toffee, S'mores, Chocolate Caramel Turtle and Cinnamon Hazelnut.
Finally, Coffee Bean rings in the fall with hand-flavored coffees like Crème Brule, Hazelnut and Cinnamon Swirl.
Coffee companies develop these new seasonal offerings by setting up flavor teams to brainstorm ideas that percolate through a variety of industries. Flavors are copied from popular ice cream, candy, smoothie and coolers. The product is then test marketed in a number of stores, and if it passes the flavor test, is offered as a limited edition before it graduates to chain wide, permanent status.
If you really want to warm the cockles of your heart as the chill of autumn sets in, put a splash of liqueur in your cup - everything from Dwersteg's Organic Chocolate Cream or Godiva's dark chocolate or white chocolate liqueurs to Dulce de Leche liqueur (Caribbean rum, caramel and cream), orange flavored Cointreau, Cherry Heering, raspberry Hare Ahududu, Polar Cranberry, Crème de Violette, almond Amaretto, pistachio Dumante, hazelnut Frangelico or exotic macadamia nut Kahana Royale.
If you just want to perk up your pedestrian cup of joe, here's a simple autumn coffee concoction accompanied by my Grandma's coveted old-world biscotti recipe that I tweaked with fall flavors. Dunk away!
(Use organic ingredients where possible)
- 1 cup of half-and-half cream
- 1/4 cup of dark amber Maple syrup
- 1 cup of hot coffee
- Whipped cream
- Cinnamon or pumpkin pie spices
In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the cream and syrup, stirring constantly until heated through. Blend in coffee. Top with whipped cream and sprinkle with cinnamon or pumpkin spices.