The best naturally spiced, soul-warming coffees to drink this winter

It’s getting chilly outside! If you’re anything like me, the cooler the outside temperature, the warmer I want to feel on the inside — that means hearty breakfasts, more baked goods than I need, and spice. Lots and lots of mouth-tingling, soul-warming spice. From sweet cinnamon to pungent clove to fiery pepper, coffee offers an impressive array of natural spice notes, and today we are sharing our favorites!

Before delving in, it is important to note that, in coffee lingo, earthy means the coffee exhibits flavor notes of root vegetables, mushrooms, or grass (more commonly noted by the associated grain e.g., barley, hay, millet, etc.). Spice indicates notes of said spice(s), such as nutmeg, ginger, or anise. Nut describes a mild but identifiable nut flavor, such as walnut or almond.

Creamy, earthy, and spicy

Rich, creamy, spicy, earthy, exotic… these are the words most commonly used to describe Asian coffees. With a naturally rich body and deep earth and spice notes, Asian coffees taste exceptionally good on chilly days. If you are craving an earthy, chili pepper spice go for a Sumatran — any Sumatran! Lighter roasted Sumatrans tend to be earthier with notes of black pepper while darker roasted Sumatrans tend to warmer with strong chili notes. For a sweeter, milder earthy spice, try an Indian Malabar or Sulawesi.

Pro tip: To maximize your cup’s warm notes, add a 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne or chili pepper, cardamom, or turmeric to your cup or grounds before brewing.

The QB picks: Sumatra Mandheling, (dark and spicy) Sulawesi Toraja (earthy with spiced nut), Monsoon Malabar (pungent with toasted nut and vanilla).

Velvety and sweet

Wonderfully aromatic with strong notes of sweet nut and chocolate, South American coffees can be spectacularly soothing (and delicious!) on a chilly day. For a rich, velvety coffee with strong notes of dark chocolate, try a full-city or Vienna roasted Peruvian. For a milder, sweeter, soft nut-toned coffee with excellent body, try a full-city or Vienna roasted Colombian or Brazilian coffee.

Pro tip: To enhance these beans’ natural sweet notes, add a pinch of cinnamon or nutmeg to your cup or grounds before brewing.

The QB Picks: Organically-grown Colombian Campesina (rich, dense chocolate with a winey / berry brightness), Organically-grown Peru Dark Roast (smooth dark chocolate with hints of vanilla and soft apricot), and Brazilian Santos (velvety with notes of molasses and walnut).

Dark, delicate, and delightful

The best blends to cuddle up with this winter? French Roast and Italian Roast. Sweet and silky (French Roast) or rich and bitter (Italian Roast), these dark roast shades create depth and warmth in the cup. With good but not over-powering body and aroma, French and Italian Roasts also pair beautifully with almost every winter dessert, from dense pastries to cookies to boozy fruit cakes. In addition to their wonderful, smokey flavor, these darker dark roasts are also low in caffeine and acidity, making them a perfect choice for your evening cup.

Pro tip: To bring in a little extra non-sugar sweetness to your cup, add a few pinches of unsweetened cocoa to your cup or grounds before brewing.

The QB Picks: French Roast, Italian Roast, Midnight Rebel, and Water Fire.

Holiday spice coffee

If you prefer to stick with your favorite coffee and just want to dress it up for the holidays, try making an at-home holiday spice coffee. This lovely, aromatic coffee can be made in advanced using spices you likely have in your pantry. It also makes a wonderful gift! To learn more, click here.

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