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There's a question that touched on infusing espresso beans with vanilla flavor during roasting, I'm doing something a little different. Recently, I managed to get some real vanilla beans (a rather hard find where I am), and I'd like to flavor a double espresso shot with one of them.

In the question I linked, a comment sort of hints that you might be able to just scrape the beans and make them part of the puck, and the flavor might come out in the pulled shot. I don't have much room for experimentation here, each wasted bean adds 33.33% to the probability that I won't get this right and won't be able to enjoy the tasty drink I'd like to make :)

I have:

  • 3 whole vanilla beans
  • A bag of great Arabica coffee beans
  • Highly purified water
  • A nice grinder / cappuccino machine, pretty much like you'd find at any coffee shop except it's a single boiler

I want:

  • A double shot of espresso infused with natural vanilla goodness

How do I accomplish this? Should I use one entire bean, more .. or possibly less? Can I just scrape the bean and pack the seeds in the puck with the grinds? Is simply pulling the shot with them in place going to be sufficient to extract the flavor?

Should I be looking more at the milk than the coffee here for best results?

I know I could just try this and figure it out (or just waste three perfectly good and rare vanilla beans), I'm really hoping someone has done this and can give a more precise method.

3 Answers 3

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I would go with cutting a small piece of vanilla bean then scrap seeds in milk add vanilla bean skin in with milk as well and steam, the steam will bring out the vanilla flavor.

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There are 2 ways good ways to get the vanilla into your coffee:

  • In the sugar, presuming you use it. You can put a vanilla bean and sugar in a food processor and whiz it up, then spoon it in. It keeps for months, although the vanilla flavor and scent will diminish over time
  • Steep the milk with vanilla. Adding vanilla bean to the milk just before steaming won't give it time to release its flavor. Split a pod down the long way, then scrape the seeds out and add both the pod and the seeds to the milk. Heat the milk gently to warm but not hot for a few minutes until you can smell the vanilla, then take it off the heat and strain the particles. Chill the milk you don't use as quickly as you can and it should last a few days
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Take all three vanilla beans cut in small pieces of about 1/4 inch. (do NOT scrape beans pods have up to 30% vanillin flavor. Just like bananas you do not eat the peel but if you smell the peel you will note a great banana aroma). Mix cut pieces of vanilla into coffee beans seal bag and leave for about a week. Then grind the mix coffee and beans to your desired "thickness" seal again for a few days and use after that. (Small blade grinder will be best). If the beans are very plum (high in moisture) it will be harder to grind so a "dryer bean" will be more desirable. Shake the "mixture" around before using.

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