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Vanilla Extract in Coffee

The idea of vanilla extract in coffee isn’t a new one, although many people have never tried it. Vanilla is a perfect complement to medium or dark roasts of coffee.

However, there’s a significant difference between pure vanilla extract and the artificial version. That’s not a matter of taking sides, it’s simply that pure vanilla extract is more suitable for creating a new depth of flavor with java.

So, if you’ve been buying vanilla flavored coffee, there’s no need to waste money when you can make it at home, knowing it will taste just as delicious. A tiny touch of vanilla extract will enhance your coffee, sweeten it slightly, and make it smell amazing! While some java creations are difficult to make, this one is surprisingly straightforward.

As we look into vanilla extract and coffee, these are some of the topics we’ll cover:

What Is Vanilla Extract?

Vanilla extract comes from vanilla beans. These are grown mostly in tropical regions, such as Mexico, South America, and Tahiti.

Pure vanilla extract shouldn’t be confused with the artificial kind. The former is made from aged vanilla bean pods, which are then added to a mixture of alcohol and water. During an additional aging period, that alcohol draws out vanillin and other compounds, infusing those flavors into the liquid.

The FDA (US Food and Drug Administration) says that pure vanilla extract must contain a minimum of 35 percent alcohol. This high alcohol content is why vanilla doesn’t taste like, well, vanilla, if you just sample it. It also must contain 13.35 ounces of vanilla beans for every gallon of extract.

Artificial vanilla extract is made with alcohol and water, but uses man-made chemical compounds to create the flavor. In fact, there are no vanilla beans involved at all. Pure vanilla extract has much deeper, more complex flavors than artificial varieties, and its flavor is about twice that of artificial vanilla. The man-made version works with many recipes, but it may make your brew taste a little off.

Almond Milk for Coffee

Health Benefits of Vanilla Extract in Coffee

So why would you use vanilla extract for coffee instead of other additions? In case you haven’t noticed, vanilla has a very distinct scent that many people find relaxing. Not to mention, it makes java smell even more delicious.

However, pure vanilla extract may also have some health benefits. Vanillin, the main compound in vanilla beans, has been associated with improved brain health. It also has anti-inflammatory properties and is considered an antioxidant.

Vanilla extract can also be used as a natural sweetener for coffee. While it’s not technically sweet, its aroma is, which influences your taste buds. If you need to cut back on the calories, this is a smart alternative to sugar in coffee.

Recipe for Homemade Vanilla Extract

Of course, you can always buy vanilla extract, but where’s the fun in that? Why not make it yourself? However, you’ll need to wait for it to age, so plan ahead.

What You’ll Need

Only two ingredients are required, although you’ll have to be old enough to purchase alcohol.

  • 3–6 vanilla bean pods.
  • 8 ounces (240 ml) of vodka.
  • 8-10 ounce jar with lid.

Step-by-Step Directions

Step 1: Slice each vanilla bean pod in half to expose the beans.

Step 2: Place the vanilla bean pods in your jar and add vodka.

Step 3: Using an airtight lid, close the jar and store in a location that’s dark and cool, such as a pantry. Store for at least six weeks, up to 12 months. The longer, the better.

Step 4: To use your vanilla extract, just open the jar, remove the vanilla beans and pods. It’s ready to go!

How To Make Perfect Vanilla Coffee

Vanilla can easily overpower java, so I’ve got a few tips to help you successfully create that cup of vanilla coffee.

  • Use a medium or dark roast, and brew your coffee strong. That way, vanilla will complement the flavors, not overtake them.
  • A little goes a long way for determining how much vanilla extract in a cup of coffee. Use a dropper with vanilla extract, about 8-10 drops per 12 ounces of java. You can always add more if needed. Bear in mind, too much vanilla will make your beverage bitter because of the high alcohol content.
  • If you use creamer, try adding a few drops of vanilla to that. You’ll still create the sweet aroma and taste.
Adding Vanilla Extract to Coffee.


Vanilla extract may not be the first item you think of when it comes to enhancing your java’s flavor, but it definitely gets the job done. It adds another layer to your coffee’s taste profile, and it’s a natural match for your brew.

Pure vanilla extract is made from vanilla beans that have been cured and then soaked in alcohol. In contrast, artificial vanilla extract is less expensive, but uses synthetic compounds like man-made vanillin, and when it’s mixed with coffee, it’s not going to taste the same as pure vanilla extract.

Vanilla is very strong, so it only takes a small amount to get that flavor. It may also offer some health benefits, such as anti-inflammatory properties. But most importantly, it makes java taste even more fantastic, try adding vanilla extract in coffee — you’ll love it!

Vanilla Extract in Coffee FAQs

Can I Put Vanilla Extract in Coffee?

You definitely can! Vanilla extract will give a delicious flavor, without the sugar and extra calories found in vanilla syrup, cream, or sweeteners. You’ll only need a very small amount, though.

Is It Healthy to Drink Vanilla Extract?

By itself, no. Pure vanilla extract is about 35 percent alcohol, and frankly, it doesn’t taste very good on its own. However, using vanilla extract as an ingredient is healthy, since it doesn’t contain sugar or many calories.

Is Vanilla Extract Healthy in Coffee?

Yes, it’s healthy to use vanilla extract in coffee. It doesn’t contain sugar and has significantly fewer calories than other additives.

Is Vanilla Syrup the Same as Vanilla Extract?

No, they aren’t the same. Pure vanilla extract is made from vanilla beans that contain vanillin, while the artificial version is made from a synthetic version of vanillin. Vanilla syrup can be made using vanilla extract, but contains sugar to make it sweet.

How Much Vanilla Extract Should You Put in Coffee?

When it comes to how to flavor coffee with vanilla extract, we recommend starting with 8-10 drops of vanilla extract for every 12 ounces of brew. You can always adjust the amount when adding vanilla extract to coffee.

Can I Put Imitation Vanilla Extract in my Coffee?

You can put vanilla essence in coffee, but your beverage won’t taste the same as with pure vanilla extract. The compounds in each are different, and they interact differently with coffee to create other flavors.