I don’t know about you but every time I hear the words ‘iced vanilla latte’ I am automatically transported to a beach. In my mind at least. And the secret is, of course, in the vanilla. I am not sure whose idea it was to start adding syrups to coffee drinks, but I thank them from the bottom of my heart! There are so many ways you can combine coffee with syrups to craft delicious drinks and other coffee treats. So today we’re going to explore the world of coffee syrups together.
First things first. What are coffee syrups? To figure that one out we must first ask a different kind of question: what is syrup? Now some of you may be skilled bakers but for those who don’t know, syrup is made with only two ingredients: water and granulated sugar. All you have to do is stir the sugar into hot water until it’s completely dissolved and then cool it. Simple syrup is used as an ingredient in pretty much anything, from baking to crafting cocktails.
Simply put, coffee syrup is simple syrup with the addition of natural flavours like vanilla, caramel and hazelnut. These coffee syrup flavours are the most popular ones and not without reason. Vanilla syrup adds a subtle sweetness to coffee giving it a bit of a sweet kick. Caramel syrup on the other hand, gives you that mouth-watering sweetness that you’re looking for if you like caramel and is a heavenly combination with coffee, albeit too sweet for some. Last but not least hazelnut syrup is a delicious pairing with coffee giving it a nutty sweet addictive flavour.
Advantages & Disadvantages
But before we take a dive into the syrup world, let’s first consider some pros and cons. I know you’re probably thinking syrups might be an unhealthy addition to your drink. It is true that any large consumption of sugar isn’t ideal for the human body. That’s why it’s best to consume everything in moderation. For example, if you drink coffee three times a day only add syrup once. You might see some sugar free syrups in the market but just because it’s sugar free doesn’t mean it’s healthy. In order for it to be sugar free it means that it must contain a lot of chemicals that would replicate a specific flavour, e.g. caramel.
But why shouldn’t you be able to indulge once a day? Some might say that syrups hide the natural flavours of coffee, but so does sugar and so does milk. Sure, some days you might crave a black cup of coffee, nothing added. But some other days you might feel like a hazelnut mocha. The addition of syrups in coffee make it reach another dimension as a drink altogether. Granted, it’s much sweeter than having it black but it’s an indulgence we all deserve. So, let’s have a look at how coffee syrups can be paired with coffee to create delicious drinks and more.
Syrupy sweet lattes anyone?
When I was working as a barista a very popular order amongst my customers would be a vanilla latte or a caramel latte. How can you go wrong if you pair good quality coffee with vanilla syrup and milk? You can’t. And if you’re feeling experimental or if you follow a vegan diet, then I suggest you try an oat hazelnut latte. Oat milk and hazelnut syrup make for an amazing pairing with coffee. And don’t think you can only add syrup in lattes just because that’s what’s most popular. You can add it to any coffee drink you want, e.g. cappuccinos, flat whites etc.
Iced syrup heaven
Remember that beach I mentioned in the beginning? Well, summer to me tastes like an iced vanilla latte. And the best part is that all you need to make it is a shot of espresso, cold milk, ice cubes and a few drops of vanilla syrup. However, this drink is so popular you can now find it easily in supermarket fridges. Don’t worry, you can use any coffee syrup you want and it’s such an easy summer drink to make at home as well. Personally, I think it’s like a milkshake with caffeine. Could it get any better?
You mocha me happy!
Coffee and chocolate anyone? You can’t go wrong. For those of you that might not know, a mocha is a coffee drink that apart from a shot of espresso and steamed milk it also contains chocolate. You can use chocolate powder, chunks of chocolate or even chocolate syrup. You can also pair it with coffee syrups and that’s your perfect dessert for the day. Another interesting drink I used to make for a customer was an almond milk mocha with vanilla syrup. I thought it was such a cool combination of flavours, so I tried it myself one day. It was delicious! The mix of chocolate, coffee, almond and vanilla flavours was just so perfect, I couldn’t stop drinking it.
Affogato – the ultimate pairing
We all know Italians are coffee pioneers! They invented the espresso machine and revolutionized the coffee industry. But what I consider their biggest invention is the affogato, the ultimate summer dessert that brings together ice-cream and espresso. You could make an affogato by pouring an espresso shot over vanilla ice-cream. But of course, we all go beyond that. Some variations include the addition of liqueurs like Amaretto or biscuits and of course coffee syrups. I personally love some caramel syrup over mine.
The Cold Brew Trend
If you’ve been paying attention to the latest coffee trends, then you know what a cold brew is. For those of you who don’t, the simplest way to describe it is iced or chilled filter coffee. There are many methods to make cold brew both with either hot or cold water. Since it’s filtered coffee it isn’t as intense as espresso, but it pairs equally well with coffee syrups. I suggest you try it with a drop of oat milk and hazelnut syrup, it’s such a refreshing drink with just the amount of sweetness you need.
It’s cocktail time! Syrup has been a vital ingredient in cocktails ever since their existence. However, coffee was mixed with alcohol way before cocktails, as we know them today, ever existed. In fact, pairing coffee with liqueurs was a standard practice in Viennese coffee houses of the 19th century. Today, coffee, alcohol and syrups come together to create delicious cocktails such as the Vanilla Espresso Martini or the Caramel Irish Coffee. As you can see coffee syrups aren’t only for the coffee lovers but for the cocktail lovers too!
You may think coffee syrups are just a drop of heaven in your cup but for many coffee shops they are an essential tool of their marketing strategy. What do I mean by that? Well, depending on the time of the year (think Christmas), many coffee shops offer seasonal drinks, such as the famous pumpkin spice latte or a gingerbread latte. Coffee syrups are an essential part of many seasonal drinks, as their preparation requires a combination of flavours. Just imagine sitting in the corner of the cosiest coffee shop during the Christmas season, enjoying a vanilla eggnog latte. Yummy!
Apart from seasonal drinks, many coffee shops create their own signature drinks as well. Signature drinks don’t have to be specific to a certain season and depending on popularity they might change frequently. Examples of signature drinks might be a coconut cold brew, a red velvet latte or even an espresso lime tonic. Many baristas around the world show their skills in mixology by crafting such signature drinks for their customers. Of course, coffee syrups play an important role yet again, due to flavour complexity.
These are just a few ideas how coffee syrups can be a part of your favourite drink but there really isn’t any shortage of ways you can do it. Apart from vanilla, caramel and hazelnut, there are many more coffee syrup flavours you can experiment with. I personally use either Monin or DaVinci Gourmet coffee syrups because of their quality and overall transparency as brands. I like how they provide information on the ingredients of their syrups, something that’s important for people that follow specific diets (e.g. vegan, kosher, nut allergies etc.).
Another thing to note is that you are always in control of how much syrup you want in your drink. Just ask the barista how many syrup pumps you would like or ask for their recommendation. As you can see, coffee syrups can really add something unique to your coffee drink in more ways than one. They’re a perfect addition to your drink any time of the year and any time of the day. So, don’t overthink it and let yourself indulge every now and again. Because whether you are a hardcore black coffee drinker or you just have a sweet tooth, there is always a time and a place for a few drops of sweet coffee syrup in your life.