Variety is the spice of life

You don't have to sacrifice flavor for convenience!

K-Cup Flavored CofeeCredit: sxc.huSingle-cup coffee makers are quickly making inroads against the traditional "put on a pot and wait, and everybody drinks the same brew" model.  They offer near-instant gratification, giving you exactly the coffee you want, in exactly the quantity you want, exactly when you want it.  As single-cup maker sales soar, driving mostly by brewers from Keurig, more and more producers of coffee are making their goods available in "k-cup" packaging, and those of us who enjoy our coffee infused with a little more zing now and then have a wide variety of flavored k-cups available to us.  And even if the flavor we want in the brand we want isn't yet available in K-cup form, there's a solution!

Flavors from Mild to Wild

Keurig K-cup sampler, flavored coffeeCredit: Amazon.comFlavored coffees are made by soaking roasted beans in naturally or artificially flavored oils.  Their quality and taste can vary greatly depending on the beans they're made from, the oils' types and concentrations, and the amount of time the beans undergo flavor infusion.

This means that even if you pick a flavor you like, there's no guarantee you'll like every coffee infused with that flavor.  Not to mention that there's an extensive list of flavors available now; some that sound good might taste terrible, and some that don't sound appetizing might surprise you.  Ranging from common flavors like vanilla, hazelnut, and mocha to more exotic-sounding tastes like Kahlua, and several with "donut" related names that  raise my blood sugar just thinking about them.  (The thought may raise my blood sugar level, but the flavored oils won't!)  There are even special holiday flavors like egg nog, gingerbread, and french toast.

K-cups aren't sold individually, and it would be a waste of money to buy a big pack of a new flavor only to find you don't like it after all.  So there are flavored k-cup sampler packs available in sizes from 18 to 48 count; some are mixes from multiple brands, and some are brand-specific from companies such as Green Mountain and Gloria Jean's.  (I'm drinking a cup of Gloria Jean's "Butter Toffee" as I write this!)

Still not satisfied?

So maybe the flavor you want isn't available in a K-cup.  Or maybe it's available, but you don't like the way it the specific brands you've tried taste.  Maybe you already have a brand you prefer, but you haven't found it in single-cup packaging.  If that's the case, there's an easy solution:  refillable K cups!  Load them up with your favorite brew, make it as weak or strong as you want, and enjoy it with single-cup convenience!  For the ultimate in fresh-brewed flavor with only a small extra step between you and your wake-up elixir, buy whole beans and grind them in a small grinder right before you brew them.

One other solution is to use flavored creamers or syrups.  These are available at many grocery stores in some of the more common varieties, and many more exotic flavor syrups can be found at gourmet stores or ordered online.  Many of these do add sugar so they're not an option for artificial sweetener users, but some of the syrups are available in Splenda-based versions.

Whatever flavor you prefer and whichever way you choose to achieve it, it's clear that single-cup machines have progressed well beyond brewing just Plain Old Coffee!