The Whole Spice

Café Outfitter

In the fall and winter months, with customers craving drinks reminiscent of pie, it can be tricky to meet demand and also branch away from café staples like pumpkin and chai. So why not deconstruct those drinks to their basic elements? Working with whole spices is rewarding in its simplicity and its appeal to your customers’ seasonal tastes.


1) Cardamom
Cardamom’s fragrant, resiny seeds pack so much flavor that a little goes a long way. We’re used to tasting cardamom intermingled in chai, but why not let the ground spice lead a drink, complemented by citrus or something lighter, like rose?

2) Coriander
Particularly when toasted, this robust spice has a savory warmth that complements sweeter ingredients. Integrate it into an inventive chai blend, or toast some for a cracked garnish to a nutty latte.

3) Nutmeg
There is a reason this spice gets its own grinder. Freshly ground nutmeg hits a bright, spicy flavor note that won’t be duplicated by any syrup or powder. Have a grinder full and ready, and be amazed at how a sprinkle will transform espresso drinks.

4) Ginger
Ginger root is a magical thing. Its versatility lets you steep it into teas, blend it into smoothies, infuse it into syrups, or serve it candied, as a garnish.

5) Cayenne
Cayenne is not for the faint of heart, but a great tool for spicing up richer concoctions. Sprinkle it into the bottom of a cup when making a dark mocha (stirring well), or add it, with honey, to a strong tea toddy for a cold-weather pick-me-up.

—Regan Crisp