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Coffee Extract: Learn What It Really Is

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Most Americans like to enjoy a warm cup of coffee as part of their morning routine. The nice kick of caffeine is the perfect way to start the day, and its flavor is unmatched by any other drink. For many coffee drinkers, that rich, bold coffee flavor is the main draw. Whether it’s the toasty, chocolate tones of a dark roast or the bright citrus notes in a light roast, each cup of joe is packed with flavor.

If you’re a huge fan of coffee, you may wonder how you can get that coffee flavor into more parts of your day. Maybe your favorite dessert is tiramisu, or you love mocha ice cream. Fortunately, you can actually get ahold of coffee extract, which lets you add that delicious coffee flavor into anything you want.

Coffee extract may sound like a straightforward product, but there’s actually quite a few options out there. Depending on how you want your extract to be made, how strong you want it, or whether you want it sweetened, you’ll want to choose from different types of concentrate. Each of these extracts has a different purpose, so make sure to understand how to use each one before making your purchase.

Natural Coffee Extract

Coffee extract is a lot like the other extracts you find in your cupboard like vanilla, almond, or coconut. It’s very potent, and is almost undrinkable on its own. Most coffee extracts are made naturally, with actual coffee beans. Cracked or coarsely ground beans are soaked in alcohol for at least a week, resulting in an extremely potent coffee extract. You can even do this at home using clear liquors like vodka, using whatever beans you want to add coffee concentrate to your kitchen cabinet.

Artificial Coffee Extract

Most of the coffee extract you get from the store is natural, but there are artificial extracts out there. These are more commonly used in foods that you buy rather than being sold as its own product. Using chemical and other natural flavorings, artificial coffee extracts mimic the natural coffee flavor for use in packaged foods.

Coffee Concentrate

Coffee Concentrate is very different from coffee extract, but can be used for similar things. Concentrate is much less potent than an extract, and is most commonly used in making cold-brews and milkshakes. To make a concentrate, all you have to do is soak coarsely ground coffee beans in water for up to 24 hours. The longer the soak, the stronger the concentrate. You can use it to replace other liquids when cooking, or dilute it for a delicious iced coffee.

Coffee Syrup

Coffee Syrup is, as the name implies, a sweet syrup made using coffee. Typically, coffee syrup is made using a standard simple syrup and adding coffee concentrate. However, depending on the brand, there can be other flavors and preservatives to enhance the flavor and texture. Coffee syrup is an excellent option for sweetening drinks or adding to your own pastries.

What Is Coffee Extract Used For?

There are quite a few uses for coffee extract. From ice cream to stews, coffee extract is a powerful addition to your kitchen. These are just a few common ways to take advantage of the potent, dark flavor of coffee.

Making coffee pastries

The most common way to use any extract is in baking. Because it’s a concentrate, you don’t have to add a lot of coffee extract to get that flavor, so it doesn’t mess with the texture of your batter or dough. You can make a coffee cake or add that nutty flavor to chocolate cookies, so don’t be afraid to look up fun ways to make coffee pastries.

Coffee ice cream

We’ve all seen coffee flavored ice cream on supermarket shelves, or tried mocha ice cream at an ice cream shop. If you’re a fan of making your own ice cream, you can use coffee extract to get your own frozen coffee treat. Simply add it to any flavor ice cream you want to get that toasty flavor. Or drizzle coffee syrup on top of your favorite brand of ice cream to get a nice blend of flavors.

Coffee drinks

Believe it or not, there are drinks that taste like coffee without any coffee. You can add coffee concentrate or extract to milkshakes or cold milk to get a delicious coffee experience without overheating your beverage. Or you can experiment with adding extracts to drinks that you never would have thought would work with coffee.

Adding it to savory food

There are quite a few recipes that recommend adding coffee to enhance the dark, toasty flavor notes. Add a dash of concentrate to a beef stew, chile, or mole to add some fullness. Or throw it on your next barbecue. Don’t be afraid to get creative to have more of that coffee flavor in your life.

What Is A Good Substitute For Coffee Extract?

You may not have coffee extract at your local grocery store, or you want to explore other options for enhancing your meals. Fortunately, there are a couple of options for adding that coffee flavor to your next dinner without having to use coffee extract.

Coffee beans

Actual coffee beans can easily be used to douse your favorite drinks and meals with coffee flavor. There are a few ways to do this, but you may need to upgrade your coffee grinder. If you’re making a blended drink, you can just throw a couple of whole beans into your blender to incorporate coffee into the drink. If you want to use it in baking, however, you’ll have to grind your coffee ultra-fine, like you would for turkish coffee. Otherwise, you’ll have a tough time chewing on the final product.

Coffee concentrate and syrup

As we’ve mentioned, coffee concentrate and syrup are great, extract-free ways to impart coffee flavor into your meals and beverages. Concentrates require a lot more liquid than concentrate, making it great for drinks. Coffee syrup is already sweetened, so make sure to only use it for sweet treats, or as a topper.

Unsweetened cocoa powder

Coffee naturally has a dark, toasty, bitter flavor, and is often compared to chocolate. If you’re craving that dark flavor but don’t have access to coffee, then try using unsweetened cocoa powder. This ingredient will get you similar flavor notes to coffee and is easy to find. You can sweeten it if you’re craving chocolate, or leave it unsweetened if you just want that bold coffee profile.

What Is Caffeine Extract?

Although it isn’t really a cooking ingredient, you can purchase caffeine extract. Maybe your morning cup just doesn’t get you up in the morning, or you want to get caffeine from more than just coffee. Or you just don’t like coffee and want the caffeine. You can take the extract and use it the same way you would any extract, but instead of flavor, you get caffeine.

How it’s made

Caffeine extract is a byproduct of decaffeination. When you buy a pound of decaf coffee beans, all of that caffeine gets collected and repackaged as caffeine extract. There are a couple of ways to extract caffeine from coffee beans, but the most popular ways include the swiss water method and pressurized carbon.

With the water method, green coffee beans are soaked in a Green Coffee Extract. Due to some principles of chemistry, the caffeine comes out of the beans and into the liquid. By filtering this liquid, you can get pure caffeine extract.

Caffeine dissolves in carbon, so by pressurizing green coffee beans with carbon dioxide, you can separate caffeine from the beans. The carbon dioxide is then filtered, resulting in pure caffeine extract.

There are also chemical methods to getting the caffeine out of beans. The FDA has certified these methods as completely safe for consumption, so there’s nothing to worry about. However, if you’re uncomfortable with chemically processed foods, make sure to check your extract to make sure that it was processed using one of the natural methods.

Should I use caffeine extract?

Most people probably wouldn’t use caffeine extract. You can easily get it from drinking more coffee, or other drinks that have caffeine. However, if you don’t like the taste of coffee, or you just want to have caffeine available in other drinks or food, consider using caffeine extract. You don’t have to worry about the safety of extracts, so you can just add it to whatever food or drink you want to get that caffeine rush without the java.

Getting More Coffee In Your Life

While the morning ritual of brewing and drinking your favorite beverage can get you plenty of coffee, sometimes you want more. Coffee extract is the perfect option for adding that flavor to your diet. Coffee ice cream and pastries are a delicious dessert choice, while savory foods and other drinks are also great avenues for coffee flavor. You can pick up coffee syrups or make coffee concentrates to give yourself more options, or even use other substitutes. By experimenting with new, creative ways to use extract, you can add even more coffee to your life.

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