When I first started drinking coffee dare I say it, but it was a bit boring. Cappuccinos and lattes were a rarity, and flavoured coffees just didn't exist, in my house it was a mug of instant black, or with a dash of milk and that was it. These days though go to any cafe never mind a specialist coffee shop and the list of coffee varieties and flavours is endless. I think that's one of the reasons why so many of us drink coffee now - all of those different seasonal flavours drag even coffee haters into the hype.
By all means enjoy your coffee shop treat, I know I do, but whatever you do don't think about the sugar and the calories - buy a flavoured coffee in a coffee shop, and you've got sweet, sugary syrup, sprinkles, sauce, and even whipped cream - a simple cup of coffee can often have the same amount of calories as a main meal - scary! If like me you're watching what you eat though, don't despair, there are ways of having a nice cup of flavoured coffee without the calories and without the sugar courtesy of Beanies.
Based in my home county of Durham, Beanies are one of the pioneers when it comes to producing flavoured instant coffees. Founded in 2009 Beanies use only the finest ethically sourced Brazilian coffee, which they infuse with lots of yummy flavours. All of their products are suitable for vegans, they are gluten, nut and alcohol free and although the blends have a sweetness they are all sugar free. They're also very diet friendly at only around 2 calories a serving when you drink it black.
The lovely people at Beanies kindly sent me 3 jars of their most popular flavours to try, so me and Mummy Lou got stuck in and embraced the caffeine high.
Beanies Double Chocolate Flavour Instant Coffee - 50g
Packaged in a cute 50g glass jar, the first thing that hits you when you open the jar and pierce the seal is the smell. It's one of the best smells in the world opening a new jar of coffee but instead of the pure coffee hit with this one you get a very dark chocolate hit, with just a tiny hint of rich coffee.
All you do is add one heaped teaspoon to a mug of boiling water, you can either drink it black or for a few extra calories you can add a touch of milk or cream to taste. I'm not a huge lover of black coffee (I was when I was about 16 I though I was so sophisticated) so I added a dash of semi skimmed milk.
The taste with this one was the direct opposite of the smell, the coffee dominated and you only got the merest hint of the dark chocolate. I personally didn't find this one that sweet so I think that this is a drink for real coffee lovers, it was rich, dark, and velvety, and it's definitely something that would wake you up in the morning.
Beanies Very Vanilla Flavour Instant Coffee - 50g
A Vanilla Latte is one of my posh coffees of choice so I was excited to try this one and I wasn't disappointed. At first sniff you get a huge hit of a rich, creamy almost floral vanilla, with only the tiniest, tiniest hint of coffee. Taste wise the coffee comes into it's own when you drink it, again it's rich and dark but with a strong vanilla hit. Again I preferred this one with milk, and although it's a little bit naughty I also added a spoonful of brown sugar with brought out both the creaminess of the vanilla and the richness of the coffee
Beanies Nutty Hazelnut Flavour Instant Coffee - 50g
As the song goes I've saved the best till last - Nutty Hazelnut was my favourite of the three and it was Mummy Lou's too. Hazelnuts can sometimes be bitter but this had a warm nutty, almost praline aroma with just a smidgen of coffee. Taste wise it was very similar, and it reminded me a lot of one of the major coffee shops festive offerings, only without the overt sweetness and creaminess. Again the flavour was rich and full, but without any bitterness. I served this with semi skimmed milk, and Mummy Lou liked it with soya milk for a few extra calories, and don't forget even though this cup of Joe tastes nutty, the entire Beanies range is nut free.
Based on my experience with these 3 flavours I can see why Beanies coffees are so popular.Unlike some of the coffee shop offerings that don't taste a great deal of coffee, Beanies coffees are for real coffee lovers, all of the flavours are rich, and velvety and you can really taste the quality of the coffee and the ingredients.
I have quite a sweet tooth and personally for me, they weren't sweet enough and I felt I needed to add a little something, but even with the addition of a dash of milk, and some sweetener or even a cheeky teaspoon of sugar, the calorie count is still way less than a syrup and cream covered coffee shop special.
Beanies aren't just for making coffee though you can also use them in smoothies, milkshakes and in recipes, and I think that all of these flavours would make a fab addition to either a chocolate cake, a coffee and walnut cake or even in some butter cream.
If these flavours aren't for you there are plenty more to choose from including decaf varieties, and festive varieties such as Christmas Pudding and Gingerbread, and yummy sounding flavours such as Chocolate Orange, Irish Cream and Cinder Toffee. Beanies Flavoured Instant Coffees retail at around £2.50 for a 50g jar. Tesco and Sainsbury's offer a small selection but the full range and even some gift boxes are available online from the Beanies website. Are you a flavoured coffee fan? Let me know x