The term “blueberry coffee” can be used to describe one of two things: either coffee beans that have actually been roasted with blueberries or a coffee beverage that has blueberry syrup mixed in. Coffees in the first category often only subtly taste of the fruit, while the flavor of those in the second is typically vibrant and sweet. In some markets, specially roasted beans are only seasonally available, which means that they are manufactured and sold for but limited periods each year, typically during the summer. Flavored syrups, on the other hand, are usually available year-round.
Blueberry coffee is coffee at its core, no matter how it is prepared. Flavorings to either the beans or the brew itself add a hint of fruit flavor, but are not generally designed to be overpowering. A blueberry coffee should still taste like coffee, just usually a bit sweeter and fruitier than normal.
Roasted blueberry coffee is often the most complex, both to make and to taste. Coffee roasting is usually a time-intensive process. Once the beans have been harvested and picked over, they must usually undergo several stages of heating, cooling, and toasting. Flavors like blueberries are usually added near the end of the roasting process for maximum freshness and transference.
Dried blueberries tend to be the most common roasting companions. While fresh berries can be used, they are made mostly of water, which tends to evaporate and dissipate when heated. Fresh fruit does not typically roast well, either, and often tastes more burned than anything.
Blueberry essential oil is sometimes added to coffee beans as they roast, as well. Beans typically excrete their own oils as they heat. These can blend with blueberry oils to form a sweet surface flavor. The blueberry does not usually penetrate the bean, though, which means that the flavor of these beans once ground is subtle.
Most of the time, roasted blueberry coffee smells far more like blueberries than it actually tastes of them. This is true of most roast-flavored coffee, as essences added on top of beans do not really have a way of penetrating past the roasted exterior. The resulting coffee’s taste is always impacted, but rarely very dramatically. Manufacturers who want a stronger flavor often add blueberry oils or flavorings to ground coffee, in order to impact more surface area.
People who wish to taste blueberries more pronouncedly in their coffee often look for flavored syrups. Syrups are essentially sugar reductions, often made from fruit concentrate, that are designed to be added to pre-made coffee drinks. Baristas can control the level of flavor by regulating how much syrup they add.
Blueberry syrups are often blue or purple in color. Black coffee often disguises this tint, but very milky drinks often take on the shade of the syrup, which can be disconcerting. Commercial manufacturers sometimes make clear blueberry syrups to avoid this result. Most of the time, however, a clear syrup is made only from fruit essences and synthetic flavors, not true berry extracts. Blueberry-flavored coffee using these sorts of syrups is often high in sugar and preservatives both.