Whether you’re craving a sweet flavor or you’re trying to mask the boldness of strong cup of black coffee, there’s a wide spectrum of coffee syrups to choose from.
However, when looking for the best coffee syrups, you want to make sure you’re not adding just any ‘ole syrupy stuff in your mug.
With that said, let’s talk about the difference between coffee syrup, coffee sauce, and other types of sweeteners.
One common reason people use coffee syrup is to enjoy a sweet coffee beverage at home without spending $5 at a coffee shop. But another common reason people like to add in coffee syrup is because they want to see and have complete control over what’s going into their coffee.
If you’re trying to replicate a latte or cappuccino or iced beverage from your favorite coffee place, be it Dunkin’, Starbucks, Peet’s, Gloria’s, what-have-you, you’ll get the best results using coffee syrup versus any other method. There are a few instances where coffee sauce may be a good idea, but only in warm drinks.
That’s really the primary difference between syrup and sauce in this case — syrup can be used effectively in warm and cold/iced beverages, whereas sauce will only cooperate in warm drinks. In anything below that 195 Fahrenheit temperature and it just won’t incorporate; the final sip will consist of all the sauce you attempted to mix in. While this would definitely not be the worst thing to ever happen, it’s not quite the goal!
No matter where you look, you’ll likely run across the same three brands: Torani, DaVinci, and Monin. You might also run into Jordan’s Skinny and, of course, Starbucks syrups. There are some underrated options out there, depending on what you’re looking for, that you should really consider, too, which of course we’ll tell you all about.
Nope! A lot of people use syrup in place of sugar because it blends better or to easily add flavor. It’s simple: the general exchange rate is using a tablespoon of syrup for each sugar packet you would normally use.
When first using a new product, though, I suggest following this guideline to begin with, though: a tablespoon of syrup for each 4 oz. of joe.
8 oz. of coffee = 2 tablespoons of syrup = 4 pumps
12 oz. of coffee = 3 tablespoons of syrup = 6 pumps
16 oz. of coffee = 4 tablespoons of syrup = 8 pumps
You only need three things: a ½ cup of coffee, a ½ cup of milk, and 2 tablespoons (4 pumps) of your favorite syrup. That’s it. You can heat up the milk in the microwave or get real fancy with yourself and use a milk frother—it’s all up to you, but it’s that easy.
To flavor it, you just fiddle with the amounts a bit. Use 2 shots of espresso, 6 oz. of steaming milk, and 2 tablespoons of flavored syrup. Same note about heating the milk or frothing it.
My point is that it’s easy and you don’t need a barista to make a copycat of your favorite caramel or mocha latte.
Let’s begin with standard, unflavored syrups, the kind that are designed to sweeten your morning brew and leave it to that. Then we’ll work our way through the most popular brands, followed by some underrated and adventurous options.
If you’re just looking to replace sugar in its power form to sugar in its syrup form for a smoother mix, you’ll want to aim for the original, non-flavored versions of syrup brands.
What’s better with coffee than more coffee? To highlight the coffee flavor of your morning joe while adding a touch of sweetness, Torani Coffee Syrup is a great avenue to take. It gives some integrity to adding something to your brew.
Torani is a popular name on the syrup scene. I mean, they’ve been in the syrup game since 1925. If their website is to be believed, the first flavored latte was made with their syrup. They visited relatives in Italy, brought their family’s secret recipes back to their home town in San Francisco, and turned it into a business that survived the Great Depression!
How very American of them, but also very impressive.
Today, they have a wide collection of syrups for coffee, top-of-the-tops including their coffee syrup.
Don’t be fooled by old-timey look of the bottle—Autocrat coffee syrup is a classic. Autocrat began making coffee syrup in the 1930s, rivaling Torani’s history.
Autocrat was recently acquired by James Finlay Unlimited, but it’s still sold under the original Autocrat name, as strange as it may be that its name is a word that also means “a rule who has absolute power.”
As a final interesting fact about Autocrat Coffee Syrup: it’s part of the state drink of Rhode Island, coffee milk. It’s literally just milk mixed with coffee syrup, but you’ll hear RI natives rave about it, so that’s gotta be worth something, right?
Tate & Lyle is a cool company, mostly because they’re certified Fairtrade, sustainable, and global. They use pure cane sugar, which I prefer over other types of sugar, and they’ve been handling in pure cane sugar for 150 years.
Their syrup is designed to be thicker for a more indulgent feel. The flavor is subtler than others on this list, so if you just want a tad of sweetness, this might be the right syrup for you. They also offer a sweetener with zero calories, too, so pick your preference.
If syrup is on your radar because you want flavored beverages, then do I have some suggestions for you, buddy.
DaVinci is the not-so-new kid on the block that they won’t stop calling “freshman.” The brand is young compared to some of its competitors, like Torani, but it’s still been holding its own since 1989. Made with pure cane sugar and fat-free, the classic caramel even features a slightly burnt taste for that authentic feel.
What’s standout about DaVinci is that they specialize in sugar free products, so you can try out a variety of those if you’d like.
Pure cane sugar and no high fructose corn syrup? Perfect. If you’re into the hazelnut coffee thing but don’t like all of the fake additives in pre-packaged coffee, this Torani coffee syrup is ideal. Toasty and sweet, Torani recommends this syrup for lattes, mochas, and iced coffees.
Monin is another long-term player in the coffee syrup game. Their century-long business game has resulted in syrup bottles that are made of green packaging and labeling, BPA-free bottles, and enough recycled syrup to feed over 374 billion bees.
Their organic vanilla syrup has no artificial flavors, is gluten-free, vegan, and non-GMO (even though there’s no reason to fear GMOs). It’s made of Madagascar Vanilla beans, which have subtle caramel tones, and organic cane sugar.
The next contender on the classic tastes menu is from Upouria. Their two-pack of French Vanilla and Caramel is a good way to try two classics for a reasonable price. They are naturally flavored, have no artificial flavors, are gluten-free, Halal and Kosher certified, and they’re vegan.
This setup is also one of the only syrups on this list where the pump doesn’t need to be purchased separately—two of them come right in the box.
If you’re a little hesitant about this syrup thing and you’re not committed enough for any of the larger bottles, this 3-pack of Jordan’s Skinny Syrups might be right up your alley. The flavors are Salted Caramel, Caramel Pecan, and Vanilla Caramel Crème, so they’re a little ‘zhuzhed’ up from the previous entries, but they come in smaller quantities so you won’t feel too weighed down by their presence.
There’s a lot of zeros in these Jordan’s Skinny Syrups, though: zero calories, zero sugar, and zero carbs. They’re Made in the USA and Kosher, and gluten-free. Considering those nutrition facts, it’s hard to guess what’s actually in the bottle! But one thing we know for sure is that it tastes delicious.
If you’re looking to take it up another notch and mimic some of the upper echelon flavors of chain coffee spots, this lineup is for you.
I mean, do we even really need to talk about it? It’s authentic, doesn’t come with the pump included, and it’s the stuff used at everyone’s love-to-hate (and hate-to-love!) coffee place. There won’t be many surprises with this one!
If you want that seasonal ‘something’, this peppermint syrup would definitely accomplish that. Best in iced or blended drinks, this syrup is made with natural flavors in southern California and only has 35 calories per serving aka per pump. Granted, the calorie count doesn’t mean too much since most recipes require two tablespoons which is four pumps.
This syrup comes with a pump, too!
For the true Irish, those that are Irish on St. Patrick’s day, as well as for everybody else, Irish cream can be a fun addition to your morning joe. If you want to cut down on the calories from actual cream, this syrup might be just the ticket: with zero sugar and zero calories, it won’t add to your calorie count.
This is an extra special section for the people like me—if I’m flavoring my coffee, there been be either an aesthetic upgrade or a flavor that’s just totally off the beaten track. For example, this glitter coffee from Chicago’s own Glitter Coffee or Arkansas’ Mint Julep Coffee or Boise’s Thyme Latte or Minneapolis’ cool mixture of lavender and honey coffee.
Speaking of lavender, this is a great syrup to use to really spice up your mid-afternoon cuppa. The floral taste is fun and fresh and 10/10 would recommend. If you’re not really sure where to begin, there are several simple recipes that can get you started. Keep in mind that a lot of them begin with how to make your own lavender syrup but like… why would you do that when you can get grab a full bottle from Torani?
Elderflower has this great flavor that’s really difficult to describe. It’s sweet, sweeter than lavender, but it’s musky and clean. Elderflower lemonade is an excellent way to use this refreshing flavor, but it’s also great for floral lattes. D’arbo was founded back in 1879 and hails from Austria. It’s made of cane sugar and proudly says that 50% of the bottle content is genuinely fruit. Plus, no preservatives!
If you’re, again, a little unsure about where to begin with this syrup, this fairly simple recipe is a good place to start.
Shaking it up every now again, afternoon, when you’ve also got a hankering for something unique or something sweet, is a good reason to get yourself a bottle of coffee syrup and add a few pumps.
In terms of what the ‘best’ one is, well… we can’t read your taste buds. We’re not tongue readers.
Analyze your coffee order—do you lean on a constant classic, like a caramel latte? If that’s where your sensibilities lie, start there. If you’re more of an adventurous soul, I’d recommend the lavender syrup to start off with.
Read your tongue, coffee connoisseurs. Give something new a try!