The Biggest Mistake To Avoid When Adding Spices To Drip Coffee

Many of us can't get started without a solid cup of coffee in the morning, and drip coffee is the go-to brew method for most Americans. But day after day of filling up our grounds basket, pressing the power button, and listening to our machine boil and toil, the whole thing can seem a bit monotonous, and a bit bleak compared to all of the homemade vanilla lattes and gourmet pour-overs we see our friends making. But you don't need a fancy espresso machine or a million bottles of saccharine sweet syrups on your countertop. To liven up your drip java, you can simply add spices to the coffee brewing process

But don't go reaching for any old canister of spices you have in your pantry, because you mustn't make one major mistake here — never put ground spices in your coffee grounds basket. Why not, you may wonder, since you're already adding a bunch of ground-up coffee in there? But while the grind size of your coffee beans may seem small, it is relatively coarse compared to the super fine, often powdered ground spices you keep in your cupboards. Avoiding ground spices has little to do with the flavor impact, and everything to do with the fact that they can easily clog your coffee maker, causing damage, making it difficult to clean, and ultimately shortening the lifespan of your drip coffee maker. 

Coarsely ground or whole spices are best

The good news is that whatever spices you have ground up in your spice rack that you want to add to coffee can usually be found in their whole form. If you can't find them in the spice jar aisle, check out the ethnic food aisle, which often has a wider variety of whole spices for much cheaper. Star of anise, cardamom pods, cloves, cinnamon sticks, and similar sweet spices pair well with coffee. The hot water will rush over them and their flavors will mingle with the grounds without disintegrating and clogging up your coffee maker. When the brew is complete, just remove the spices and discard them in the trash. 

Other spices and flavors like ginger or orange zest should be grated for this method or it will be difficult for the water to extract the flavors, but you can do this manually rather than using the pre-ground powdered version. Use a coarse grater or your handy microplane tool to get a few tablespoons of shavings and add these to your brew basket. If you only want to use a small portion of high-quality whole spices like cinnamon sticks or cardamom pods, which can be expensive, toss them in a spice grinder and pulse them a few times. This will break them down but not make them so small they become an issue for your drip coffee maker. You could also pulse the spices along with ground coffee beans for a more combined blend.