I was at a local coffee shop today and I noticed for the first time ever that they served vanilla coffee. This surprised me, as I had not yet ever seen coffee with vanilla flavoring, and got me thinking about how that comes to be. Could anybody help me with this?
In a coffee shop (assuming both places like Starbucks or non-chain versions), flavour syrups are a staple. Some have their own range, others use generic manufacturer's that are also used in other cooking or bartending applications.
I'd assume a dash or two of these are added to your coffee and voilá: Vanilla (hazelnut/caramel/...) coffee.
Another option are flavoured coffee beans, but for a coffee shop, that's pretty unlikely, as they would have to keep various beans at hand and switch between orders.
There are two ways that this is commonly achieved.
Flavoring syrups. These are what you most commonly see at coffee shops. Mostly they are used in flavored lattes and mochas. Some local shops might make their own, but they are commonly purchased from a larger company. They also sweeten the coffee.
Flavored beans. This is what you commonly see at gas stations, truck stops and the store. A flavoring is added to the beans themselves. This usually causes the beans to have an oily look to them. The oils will stay in the grinder for some time after grinding, so a coffee shop is unlikely to use this option.
Here first you would buy your Vanilla beans. It is best to buy 3 or 4 different ones from different farms. As they are smoke dried. Each has a little different flavor. Different wood used to smoke the bean. You place the bean in tall jars. Break off the amount you wish. Place in pot. Make your coffee. Much in America is artificial vanilla flavor. A drop or 2 is added to the coffee. What that is is will can't say here.