Are chemicals used to make flavored coffee?

by Matt
(Dearborn, Michigan)


I love flavored coffee, but am concerned about how "natural" the flavors are. If I buy hazelnut flavored coffee, for instance, is the flavoring done with natural hazelnut?


Matt, hi

That's an excellent question...with a fairly scary answer. Most coffee flavoring is done with chemicals.

The flavoring of coffee beans is done after roasting. The big issue here is that roasters use a particular chemical to help get the flavoring into the bean. That chemical is called propylene glycol.

If propylene glycol sounds familiar it's because it is also used in the manufacture of anti-freeze. I said the answer was scary!

One company that does offer flavored coffee without using propylene glycol is Flavorbean Coffee.

You can also learn more about this on our natural flavors for coffee page....

Comments for Are chemicals used to make flavored coffee?

Click here to add your own comments

Jun 04, 2016
Propylene glycol in flavored coffee
by: Anonymous

Propylene Glycol is a widely used component in many things in the food industry. Its solvent properties are important but its also one of the most effective products used to retain moisture in some food items. Think marshmallows and moon pie and soft, but dry, dog food type products. Its one of the main components of cough syrup. The F.G. (food grade) or higher forms are what are used, not the antifreeze grades you might think of. Propylene glycol is used industrially in antifreeze, and other heat exchange applications around food processors because the FDA believes it to be GRAS (generally recognized as safe) and is non-toxic. Think heat ex changers in food manufacturing plants. Now does anybody know what chemical is used to flavor hazel nut coffee?

Sep 04, 2014
A little smarter than you think : )
by: Nick (Coffee Detective)

Yes, propylene glycol is used for food products. Yes ethylene glycol is used in antifreeze, and is toxic.

However, do a little more research and you'll see that propylene glycol is also used in antifreeze and windshield wiper fluids.


Sep 03, 2014
propylene glycol
by: Anonymous

You are not too smart -- antifreeze is ethylene glycol and what is used here is propylene glycol which is safe for consumption (used in quite a few food products).

Two completely different things.

Feb 04, 2009
by: Anonymous

So what about the flavored syrup that is added to coffee drinks? How is that made? Is it bad to drink?

Click here to add your own comments

Return to Coffee Questions Archive 2008.

health benefits of coffee

This 9-page report tells you about some of the surprising, and important health benefits of drinking coffee.

This report is yours FREE when you sign up for the Coffee Detective Newsletter

"The Health Benefits of
Drinking Coffee"

Sign up below and we'll provide a link where you can download your report immediately.




Your e-mail address is totally secure, and will be used only to send you The Coffee Detective Newsletter.

What's new...

  1. How to make coffee at home as good as you get in coffee shops.

    To make great coffee at home, you need to consider the water, the coffee beans, the grinder and the coffee maker.

    Read More

  2. Make better coffee by grinding your beans a little coarser.

    One thing I learned from my visit to East Coast Coffee Madness in Montreal is that you can make a better brew by grinding your beans a little coarser.

    Read More

  3. Our review of a Yirgacheffe coffee from Modest Coffee Roasters.

    Modest Coffee Roasters offer a three-level subscription service, which includes some amazing coffees like this Yirgacheffe.

    Read More

  4. Your best source for pour over coffee gear.

    The founders of Coletti coffee nor only sell great pour over coffee gear, but are also supporting some important non-profits.

    Read More

The Best Coffee Blogs of 2016 by Market Inspector