Flavoured coffee beans are not perhaps as popular in the UK as they are in the US, but you can sometimes find them on the shelves of speciality shops or on cafe menus. The flavouring’s been added to the beans after roasting, and the more common variations beans include vanilla and spiced flavours.
Pre-flavouring the beans in this way has several disadvantages. One is that the strong flavours have a tendency to taint storage jars, coffee grinders and coffee machines, leaving a hint of flavour behind when you’re preparing plain coffee. Another is that pre-flavoured coffee beans can be of poor quality, the manufacturers relying on the added flavour to mask any weakness in taste.
Probably the safest way to get a great cup of flavoured coffee is to brew it first then add the flavouring afterwards, so that you can be sure of the quality of the beans. The easiest way is to use a small quantity of flavoured syrup, such as chocolate, caramel or mint. Add the flavouring after the coffee has been brewed and is in the cup, and if possible add it before the milk so so that it dissolves properly.
Another alternative is to make your own natural flavourings. Store vanilla pods with your roasted coffee beans, add a little ground cinnamon to a cappuccino or add dried orange zest and ginger to the beans before grinding. Add the spices a little at a time, and increase the amounts to your taste.