Spice Up Your Coffee With These Things You Have In Your Pantry

Spice Up Your Coffee With These Things You Have In Your Pantry

Jake Bonneman Jake Bonneman
4 minutes of coffee drinking

We all know that coffee is great on its own. But sometimes, you just need a little something extra to really enjoy your cup of joe—something spicy. Or maybe you have absolutely nothing else to do and you want to muck up some perfectly-good coffee just for the sake of it.

Whatever the reason, here are some unusual spices you have in your pantry right now that you can put in your coffee to give it some zing. Y'know, a little extra zip. Some vim, some moxie! You get the idea.


Cardamom is a warm and aromatic spice that's often found in Indian cuisine and in that weird little cabinet above your microwave. When did you buy cardamom? You don't even remember. But it's there, and that's a good thing—if you want to really spice things up with your coffee, cardamom is the way to go. It has a slightly sweet flavor with hints of citrus, and it actually pairs surpisingly well with coffee. As with most spice + coffee combinations, just a pinch of cardamom will do the trick.

Cayenne Pepper

If you like your coffee with a little bit of a kick, cayenne pepper is the way to go. Just a pinch (literally) of this spice can add a serious amount of heat, so start small and work your way up. Cayenne pairs really well with chocolate, so if you're after kind of a spicy mocha type of coffee drink, definitely give this one a try. Intrigued? I covered cayenne pepper coffee in more detail here.


Nutmeg is another spice that can add a nice flavor to coffee. But be careful, too much nutmeg can make your coffee taste like an apple pie without the apple. Or an egg nog without the egg. Or the nog. And what’s the point of that?

A little goes a long way with nutmeg, so start small and add more as needed. If you want to get really fancy, try grating fresh nutmeg into your coffee rather than using the powdered nutmeg in the back of your pantry (right behind the Ecto Cooler). Whether you use fresh or powdered nutmeg—just make sure not to go overboard.

Ground Cloves

Not for the faint-of-taste-bud, cloves have a strong, pungent flavor that can be a bit overwhelming in coffee. Use them sparingly, and definitely don't use more than a pinch. Cloves can add a nice, “interesting” flavor to coffee—I've seen it—but only if used in moderation.


Like cloves, ginger has a strong flavor that can quickly become overpowering. A little bit of fresh ginger root can add a nice zing to coffee, but use it sparingly.

If you want to get really adventurous, try making a cup of Vietnamese iced coffee with fresh ginger.


Fresh mint is a surprisingly great way to add a “refreshing” flavor to a cup of coffee—especially iced coffee/cold brew.

If you want to really impress your coffee snob friends, why not make a carafe of mint-infused cold brew? It's easy to do, and it'll make your coffee taste like a million bucks. (Get it? Money? Mint? Eh.)


Just a pinch of allspice can completely change the flavor of a cup of coffee. Combining the flavors of nutmeg, cloves, cardamom, ginger, and cinnamon—it sounds great in theory, right? Sure, allspice could be a great way to add some depth and sophisticated complexity to your coffee.

But do you really want your coffee to taste like a spice rack?


Okay, now you're just pushing it. Saffron is expensive and I'm not about to put it in my coffee. Thanks though.

Onion Powder

What the hell is wrong with you? No.

Black Garlic

No. Just no.


So there you have it, some unusual spices—many of which you may want to try adding to your coffee, and some of which you definitely should not. As always, experiment with small amounts to find what you like best.

And if all else fails, just drink your coffee like normal. It's still pretty damn good that way. And if you want to make it even better, check out our Ultimate Coffee Brewing Guide.

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