Coffee Syrups: Whip Yourself Up a Coffee Sensation

Last update: 31 January 2021

When Pacino said “most of my scripts have coffee stains on, that’s how you know it’s a Pacino script”, I think he was talking about a good strong cup of New York joe.

Don’t get me wrong, a good, simple cup of joe is a ritualistic part of my routine that I’m never going to give up. You’re probably the same. But coffee is a diverse ingredient, used in shaking up cocktails, baking rich cakes, and even in marinating! Although there’s little better than a freshly brewed filter, adding syrup to your coffee can add some much-needed excitement to your caffeine boost.

Whether you’re a seasoned coffee syrup shopper looking for recipes to make your own syrup, or a complete novice trying to find out what’s on the market, this is your go-to guide to coffee syrups.

In a hurry? Here are the 5 best coffee syrups you can pick up today

What is Coffee Syrup? Is It Just for Coffee?

Coffee syrup can transform your plain coffee into a flavored fiesta. Deceptively simple, coffee syrups have just three basic ingredients.

  • Water: Most ingredients lists will just have “water” in, but you can also find certain syrups with pure water, direct from live streams. For example, Routin 1883 syrups are made with water from the French Alps.
  • Sugar/Sweetener: You’ll find a range of different sugars and sweeteners in available coffee syrups, including beet sugar, cane sugar, and Splenda.
  • Flavoring: Coffee syrup comes in a huge variety of flavors, including hazelnut, plum, and cinnamon, and they’re used by baristas to add variation to drinks.

If you thought that variations of lattes were the only purpose of coffee syrup, think again. Baristas use coffee syrup in iced coffees, Irish coffees, and even coffee-based cocktails! Keep scrolling to find our recipe for making vanilla syrup.

Already Love Syrups? Here’s Why You Should Try Coffee Sauces!

Coffee sauces are much like coffee syrups, but they are usually thicker and richer. Think comforting caramel, warm hazelnut, and deep chocolate flavors. Generally, coffee sauces have condensed milk in, resulting in that thick, creamy texture.

Coffee sauces go great on ice cream and other desserts. They’re also an exciting addition to milk-based (or milk alternative-based) drinks, like coffee and hot chocolate. Looking for chocolate syrup for coffee? Sauces from the Ghirardelli are the best. I’ve even been known to have a spoon of white chocolate sauce straight from the bottle!

If you’re using a sauce to add a dash of sweetness to a drink, put it in your mug before the milk. Continuously stir as you add the milk to make sure the sauce has dissolved throughout your drink.

Great, I Have Some Coffee Syrup. Now How Do I Use It?

A good rule of thumb is to use about two tablespoons of coffee syrup per drink, but there aren’t really any rules here, especially as the sugar content and intensity of flavor varies from brand to brand.

Starbucks Tip

Starbucks use 20ml coffee syrup for an 8oz drink, 30ml for a 12oz drink, and 40ml for a 12oz drink. That roughly translates to 10ml coffee syrup per 235ml coffee. If you don’t fancy measuring it out, consider purchasing an attachable pump with pre-measured portions for your syrup bottle.

Make sure you add the coffee syrup to the cup first. Adding at the end can stop the viscous syrup from dissolving.

Types of Coffee Syrup

There are so many types of syrup and syrup variations on the market, including sauces, concentrates, flavoring syrups, and sweeteners. Here’s a rundown on what each product is and what it’s used for:

  • Sauces: As we talked about above, sauces are usually rich, sweet flavors. Baristas use sauces in dairy-based drinks, like lattes, mochas, and hot chocolates.
  • Concentrates: These come in the form of highly concentrated flavor drops. The chocolate, vanilla, and caramel flavor drops by Stevia are perfect for adding sugar-free sweetness to your coffee, and you only need 1ml for an 8oz drink! Steer clear of flavor drops that aren’t designed for coffee, though - strawberry and mango flavors light up a smoothie but not your morning latte.
  • Coffee flavoring syrups: These are probably what you first think of when you hear “coffee syrup”. They come in a huge variety of flavors, and we’ll be mostly focusing on this type of coffee syrup today. You can basically use any flavoring syrup in coffee, but you’ll probably prefer flavors like hazelnut over rhubarb, as the latter is better suited for desserts.
  • Sweeteners: Liquid sweeteners aren’t heavily flavored, like flavoring coffee syrups. Instead, liquid sweeteners are replacements for sugar. Therefore, if you like your coffee with two spoons of sugar in, this could be a good alternative. Pure maple syrup in coffee is becoming a trend.

There are also loads of options if you’re looking for organic, vegan, sugar free, or specific flavors of coffee syrups. Below, we’ll run down the types of coffee syrup on the market and our pick of the best in each category.

Organic Coffee Syrups

Organic coffee syrup lovers swear by its complexity of taste. By using these coffee syrups, you’ll be benefiting from the natural, organic ingredients within. Buying organic means you’re supporting the environment, as untreated foods promote biodiversity. Plus, you’ll be benefiting from all of the ingredients’ natural health benefits.

Organic sugar boasts high levels of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. It will give you an extra dose of Vitamin A, important for healthy eyes, as well as B vitamins, which are essential for good brain functioning. You’ll also be benefiting from extra calcium, great to keep your bones strong, and iron, which your body uses to produce hemoglobin for red blood cells.

Although sweet syrups should be consumed in moderation, the organic sugar in organic coffee syrup is a healthier alternative to refined sugar, with the former boasting higher levels of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids.

Be warned, organic coffee syrups don’t last long once opened, because they are free of artificial preservatives. You should go by the instructions on the bottle, but you can store organic syrup in the fridge for a month before any changes in texture or flavor.

Want to experience all the benefits of organic coffee syrup? We would recommend this multi-pack coffee syrup from Liquid Planet, which includes vanilla, hazelnut, and caramel flavors. The natural caramel flavoring is a real breath of fresh air for the taste buds! Liquid Planet organic syrups are the height of quality, blended with premium organic cane juice, and kettle cooked in small batches the old-fashioned way. The vanilla syrup is even flavored with real, pure Madagascar vanilla!

Vegan Coffee Syrups

Whether you’re vegan, plant-based, or just looking to make a few easy changes, the good news is that most coffee syrups are vegan! A popular fully vegan coffee syrup brand is Upouria. If you’re ever unsure, take a look at the ingredients list - the only thing you really need to look out for is honey, which is sometimes used as an additional sweetener.

Sugar-Free Coffee Syrups

Coffee has been shown to have a number of amazing health benefits. First off, it’s packed full of antioxidants, which are used by your body to protect your cells from harmful free radicals. Plus, because coffee is a stimulant, it can help you to perform better and burn more fat during exercise.

The Science: How does coffee help with weight loss? Caffeine signals your fat cells to break down fat, and it also boosts your metabolic rate by 3-11%. Therefore, having a vanilla latte before a workout can actually maximize its effects. Experts recommend taking your caffeine hit about 45-90 minutes before exercising.

If you’re drinking coffee at least in part due to its health benefits, that doesn’t stop you from spicing your drinks up with some syrup. There are plenty of sugar-free options for the ultimate pre-workout guilt-free sweet treat. Switching to sugar-free coffee syrup is an easy way to lower your sugar consumption, quench sugar cravings, and add a keto kick to your cup of joe.

Gone are the days when sugar free meant basic flavors and two flavor options. By far the best and most extensive range of sugar free coffee syrups is found at Torani. They sweeten their syrups with Splenda, a brand that uses sucralose in their sweeteners. Sucralose is made through processing sugar until it’s sugar- and carbohydrate- free, meaning it’s helpful for keeping your macros down! Sucralose is also near indistinguishable from the real thing. Some interesting flavors from Torani include S’mores and peanut butter, as well as more regular flavors, like cinnamon.

Coffee Syrup Flavors

Even if you have specific dietary requirements or preferences - like if you eat plant-based or are trying to lose weight - you’ll still find a whole range of coffee syrup flavors.

Some of the most common flavors include: vanilla, caramel, cinnamon, hazelnut, toffee, pumpkin spice

Some less common flavors include:

  • Banana, used in shakes and smoothies
  • Popcorn, used in yummy winter mochas
  • Chestnut Praline, for that luxury feel to your latte
  • Rhubarb, for cocktails
  • Lavender. Our favorite is Monin’s Lavender Syrup, which goes great in an iced coconut milk lavender latte: just add coconut milk, an espresso shot, lavender syrup, and some ice in a glass. Floral syrups also double as additions to herbal teas.

As you’ll notice above, a lot of less common syrup flavors are used for cocktails and other beverages. We’ve included them here as there’s no difference between those syrups and coffee syrups!

Making Coffee Syrup at Home

Although there are literally hundreds of different coffee syrups on the market, you can make one just as good at home. Making coffee syrup at home is super simple and only requires a few easy-to-acquire ingredients: water, sugar and flavoring.

Why you may want to try making homemade coffee syrup? Here are the benefits:

  1. It’s fast. As you’ll see from our recipe below, making homemade coffee syrup will probably take less time than ordering a bottle online!
  2. You know exactly what’s in it. You can make sure your syrup is free from artificial preservatives and GMO ingredients.
  3. Make your perfect syrup. At home, you can experiment with the exact ingredients and quantities you like. More on how to customize your syrup later.

Simple Coffee Syrup Recipe

Here’s how to make pretty much any flavor syrup you can dream of. Serving up your guest a freshly made latte, with home-made vanilla coffee syrup, may sound uber-impressive, but the process is deceptively simple.

We’ve listed quantities to make 2 cups of regular strength coffee syrup.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water

Flavoring (use one):

  • Vanilla: 2 tsp vanilla extract, or 3 halved vanilla beans
  • Peppermint: 2 tsp peppermint extract, or 1 cup fresh peppermint leaves
  • Caramel: ⅓ cup caramel sauce
  • Cinnamon: 2 cinnamon sticks
  • Any other flavoring you can think of

What you will need:

  • A saucepan
  • A tall glass bottle. I use empty Monin bottles, as then I can purchase fitted syrup pumps for easy portioning.

Instructions:

  1. Pour your sugar and water into a saucepan and bring it to a gentle boil, stirring to keep the sugar from burning at the bottom of the pan
  2. Simmer, stirring constantly, until the sugar is dissolved and the liquid has started to thicken. This should take 1-2 minutes.
  3. Take the pan off the heat, and add your chosen flavoring.
  4. Let completely cool.
  5. Strain your syrup, if it’s necessary to remove any floating cinnamon sticks or rogue peppermint leaves.
  6. Pour your coffee syrup into an airtight bottle for easy storage in the fridge.

The above instructions are to make 2 cups of regular strength coffee syrup, comparable to the strength of a popular brand like Monin.

However, you can proportionally increase or decrease the volumes of water, sugar, and flavoring in order to achieve a stronger/weaker or sweet/less sweet syrup. For a thicker, sweeter syrup, add more sugar. For a more flavorful syrup with less sugar, use ¾ cup of sugar and 3 tsp vanilla extract.

I usually just eyeball the quantities, tasting as I go to get the right flavor and texture. Remember to be careful as the syrup gets hot in your saucepan!

For a sugar-free syrup, simply substitute 1 cup of sugar for ¾ cup of xylitol and ⅛ teaspoon of xanthan gum.

Tip: If you’re lucky enough to have real vanilla beans or cinnamon sticks, and you like a coffee syrup, then leave the beans or sticks in the bottle. This also makes for an elegant, homey addition to your countertop.

Best Coffee Syrups You Can Buy

Don’t fancy making your own coffee syrup? No problem.

There are plenty of coffee syrups you can find online, in grocery stores, and in specialty coffee stores.

We’ve rounded up our pick of the absolute best coffee syrups you can buy today, telling you about why we love them, how to use them, and a bit more about the brand that makes them.

Whether you’re a complete syrup newbie or a seasoned syrup expert, you’re sure to find something new you’ll love below:

Torani Variety Pack Caramel, French Vanilla, Vanilla & Hazelnut, 25.4 Ounces (Pack of 4)Torani
The Basic Coffee Syrup Set for the Complete Beginner
Torani Variety Pack Caramel, French Vanilla, Vanilla & Hazelnut, 25.4 Ounces (Pack of 4)

This Torani variety pack is perfect for anyone first wanting to dip their toe into the world of coffee syrups. For an affordable price, you get four of the most popular flavors of coffee syrup: caramel, French vanilla, vanilla, and hazelnut. Plus, the bottles are decent sizes too, at 25oz each!

Your Torani syrups are likely to last for months after they’re opened, but that’s because they have preservatives in to extend shelf life. If you only go organic, this is a syrup to steer clear of.

In terms of sugar, you’ll be consuming 19g of sugar per 2 tbsp serving, which is comparatively low.

$32.12 from amazon
Monin — Gourmet Flavorings Premium Coffee Collection 5x50mlMonin
The Coffee Lover’s Favorite Gift
Monin — Gourmet Flavorings Premium Coffee Collection 5x50ml

What to get for that coffee-loving friend? Monin’s gourmet set, which comes with the lush flavors of caramel, amaretto, hazelnut, Irish cream and vanilla.

And even if amaretto and Irish cream sound like they might have dairy in, the whole set is vegan and dairy- and gluten- free.

What’s more, this set comes with a little book of recipes, so you’re never sat scratching your chin about how to use the syrup in front of you.

$13.68 from amazon
DaVinci Gourmet Naturals Syrup Hawaiian Salted CaramelDaVinci
For Experienced Syrup Lovers Looking For Something New
DaVinci Gourmet Naturals Syrup Hawaiian Salted Caramel

DaVinci coffee syrup balances sweet and savory flavors of salted caramel. Made with pure cane sugar and Hawaiian sea salt, this syrup is for you if you desire cafe quality brews at home. We chose this syrup for the top 5 list because of its unique flavor, blending mineral-rich Hawaiian alaea salt with delicate notes of caramel.

$19.31 from amazon
Ghirardelli Squeeze Bottles - Caramel, Chocolate & White Chocolate - Set of 3Ghirardelli
Premium Coffee Souces For the Chocolate Lovers
Ghirardelli Squeeze Bottles - Caramel, Chocolate & White Chocolate - Set of 3

This thick, rich chocolate sauce can transform a regular latte into a luxury chocolate sensation. You can thank the real Ghirardelli chocolate in your squeeze bottle for the complex, deep flavors.

You need to keep your sauce in the fridge, where it will last for up to 3 weeks. I’d recommend storing your Ghiardelli bottle upside down, as the sauce tends to get a bit thick. If you keep it upside down, you’ll find it easier to get a portion out for your daily hot chocolate!

$17.87 from amazon
Jordan’s Skinny Syrups Vanilla Caramel CrèmeSkinny
Best Syrup For Those Who Drink Guilt-Free
Jordan’s Skinny Syrups Vanilla Caramel Crème

Whether you’re on a Keto diet, trying to trim some pounds, or just looking to make some simple low-calorie switches, Jordan’s Skinny Syrups are a game changer, with 0 calories per serving.

Don’t trust me? Jordan’s Skinny Syrups are recommended by Slimming World and Weight Watchers!

$8.58 from amazon

FAQs

What coffee syrups does Starbucks use?

This is a little-known secret, as Starbucks claim to use their own-brand syrup. However, from some internet digging, we can infer that Starbucks actually use Fontana syrup, because the packaging and flavors are remarkably similar, and Nestle lists Starbucks products on the Fontana page.

Do coffee syrups go bad?

Yep, unfortunately they do. You should go by the storage instructions on the packaging, but the rule of thumb is that a bottle should be used within a month of opening. However, you can preserve it for up to 3 months if you keep it in the fridge once opened.

Conclusion

As you’ve learned in this introductory guide to coffee syrups, there are so many varieties of syrup and endless experimental recipes to make. That means there’s always more to learn, make, and drink.

Take your pick of the coffee syrups we’ve recommended above. You are on the right track with Monin, Torani or DaVinci. Test out some recipes, try a few more flavors and rediscover your coffee!