Thick, Sweet & Sticky… Cold Brewed Coffee Syrup

by laura everage on May 20, 2013 · 1 comment

An interview with David Lanning, CEO of Dave’s Coffee

Experience the full spectrum of flavor that resides in coffee beans with Dave’s Coffee Syrup, which is hand-roasted in small batches, cold-brewed and simmered with natural cane sugar to preserve the delicate, sophisticated notes that are seared away by traditional brewing methods. Coffee Universe talks to the founder of Dave’s Coffee about the history behind coffee milk, and his delicious coffee syrup.


Coffee Milk? What is it and where did it come from?

Some things don’t change. And, for good reason.

It’s 1930 in Rhode Island. Diner and drugstore operators are seeking creative ways to attract new customers with innovative, new drinks. One clever fellow, whose identity has sadly been lost to history, concocted a deliciously sweet beverage using coffee grinds, sugar and milk. The thick molasses like syrup mixed with cold milk is an instant hit and dubbed coffee milk. A chapter has been added to Little Rhody’s history books. Brilliant.


It was 2012, and as a craft coffee roaster in Rhode Island, I was looking for creative ways to attract new customers with innovative new drinks. I decided to roast a smooth Brazilian coffee, cold brew it for eighteen hours, and reduce the mixture down with just pure cane sugar into a thick, sweet, sticky syrup. Rhode Island’s coffee syrup tradition continues, gets pure, and pushes the creative envelope.


How did you update this classic Rhode Island drink for today’s consumer?

Well, some things do change, and, for good reason. The corn syrup based, high fructose sweetened coffee syrup of days gone by has been improved by stripping it down to just the basics. Removing what’s not needed. Focusing on using the fewest, highest quality ingredients. Doing it in small batches with attention to taste and flavor.


Tell us a bit about the process.

The process is simple. It starts with an amazing Brazilian coffee that has notes of peanuts, butter and white toast. The beans are roasted to full city level and allowed to infuse with their natural smoke during roasting. Once the beans have rested for forty eight hours, grinding and cold brewing follows. The coffee is allowed to steep at room temperature for eighteen hours. Cold brewing perfectly extracts the full body and flavor of the coffee without the acidity.

Then the fun begins. The cold brewed coffee is drained and combined with pure cane sugar. The mixture slowly simmers for almost three hours and is reduced down into a caramelized, thick, sweet syrup. Not to be confused with a coffee concentrate – this is coffee syrup. A thick, sweet syrup that is made to mix with almost anything. But, not water.

Coffee Milk – an official state drink? Is it true?

Believe it or not, the Official State Drink of Rhode Island is coffee milk. It’s an easy one. Take a tall glass of cold milk (preferably whole milk) and stir in a few tablespoons of coffee syrup.

But, it doesn’t stop there. Coffee syrup offers a complex flavor profile that pairs well with lots of flavors both in beverages and as a workhorse ingredient in the kitchen.

Mixologists are like mad scientists with coffee syrup. A current favorite of mine consists of equal parts coffee syrup, top shelf bourbon, Frangelico and a splash of milk. Shaken, served on the rocks and dusted with cinnamon.

In the kitchen, coffee syrup can be used to substitute anywhere a coffee or vanilla extract is called for. Think coffee syrup infused chocolate cupcakes, cookies, cakes and tiramisu.

Grilling? Glazes, sauces and BBQ are perfection. Coffee syrup adds a sweet, smoky goodness to meats and veggies – especially when mopped on and seared over an open flame. The possibilities are endless and the fun in reinventing a classic like coffee syrup is finding new, updated and creative uses.

That’s the story behind Dave’s All Natural Coffee Syrup. It’s a creation made to carry on a tradition. Push culinary creativity. And, most of all, enjoy the flavor that only coffee can offer. For more great recipes, click here.


David Lanning is CEO and founder of Dave’s Coffee, a Rhode Island-based craft coffee roaster and maker of Dave’s Coffee Syrup. Learn more about their coffee bean offering and coffee syrup product line, which comes in original, vanilla, mocha, and decaf at

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