6/29/09 | Homemade Coffee Syrup
[ Currently Eating: Homemade Toast ]
I like flavored coffee.
I guess that counts as a sheepish confession. Though, I prefer to call it an antelopish or gazellish confession. You know how it goes: Wild animals and coffee.
I decided to say that up front so that all the hard-core coffee drinkers could immediately hit the back button and go back to drinking whatever passes for the Real Coffee Deal nowadays.
I also can’t drink coffee straight black. I need milk or cream or 1/2 and 1/2 in it. Or at least some whiskey, especially early in the morning. I suspect this is somewhat less of a heinous offense in the eyes of coffee drinkers (and alcoholics) around the world. But I’m throwing that out there too, just in case.
I also sometimes nuke day old coffee in the microwave, drink fricking Folger’s instant coffee on occasion, and I have been known to tentatively eat some of the grounds in the mistaken belief that it will make me grow a few inches.
I meant in height, you maniacs.
For the three people still with me after those confessions, congratulations!
OK. So I like the flavored coffee and coffee drinks, but I really hate to drop an Abe Lincoln every day at Stirbuks. So, we’ve been buying the standard Torani Syrup to flavor up our morning drinks. The only thing is that they’re sort of expensive, especially considering they’re mostly sugar water. We usually get the 750ml large sizes, and those usually run between $7 and $10 at specialty stores. On Amazon, I discovered you can pick up a three pack of syrup for $16.30 which comes out to about $5.40 a bottle.
Not too bad, but I was thinking – how hard could it be to just make your own coffee syrup at home?
The answer is that if you know how to boil water, you know how to make your own coffee syrup. The most difficult part is the flavoring. If you’re just looking to get simple sugar syrup, hey, add equal parts sugar and water together, reduce it by half, and there you go. I have to admit, I never really got into making simple syrup – but it’s a really handy thing to have around, especially when you need to flavor cold beverages. And yes, it’s just boiling sugar and water together.
I looked up a bunch of different recipes for coffee syrups, and a lot of them have you scraping vanilla bean pods, harvesting your own hazelnuts, etc. Ugh-a-bugga. The method I settled for flavoring the syrup just uses vanilla extract.
Yes, I realize that the price of these extracts if you buy them JUST to make your coffee syrup sort of defeats the purpose of making your own syrup. However, I think most people have Vanilla extract in the cupboard – and if you’re using a teaspoon, I think it’s worth it. Based on a 2 Fl. Oz. bottle of vanilla extract that costs $3.50, I think 1 tsp should run you about 30 to 40 cents.
I’m sure that using an authentic vanilla bean pod will make it taste a ton better – let me know if you try that out. My vanilla bean plant is tired after doing all those pushups this morning.
Vanilla Sugar Syrup
1 cup sugar — $0.35
1 tsp vanilla extract — $0.35
1 cup water
Get a pot. Dump the sugar, water and extract into it. Stir it up with a wooden spoon to kind of dissolve at least some of the sugar.
Flame up that pot with a medium flame. I wouldn’t walk away, because it won’t take that long. I’d also stir the pot once in awhile. Don’t watch the pot too hard, or it wont boil. Haha.
When it starts to boil, then reduce the heat and simmer the mo-fo. Everyone says to reduce it by half, but my eyes aren’t very accurate. So it’ll be about 4-7 minutes I think. It won’t really thicken up THAT much, which is correct because the syrup that you buy is pretty watery as well.
Let it cool, and that’s pretty much it. Congratulations.
This whole shebang seems to result in about 1 1/3 cups of syrup, or, if my shoddy math (and googling) is correct – about 1/3 Liter. So, 750ml (3/4 Liter) of Torani costs at the cheapest, say $5. That same amount of homemade coffee syrup would be, uh, about $1.60? Please don’t check my math work, I’m that embarrassed.
In any case, $5 versus $1.60 seems worth a shot. I suspect that the price will change dramatically if you use real vanilla bean pods, or if you try other extracts like almond or hazelnut. Who knows. The syrup I made seemed to be adequate, although it definitely wasn’t as fragrant. I might try doubling the vanilla extract next time or something.
The consistency of the syrup is about right. It doesn’t seem like it’d be sticky, but I did spill a considerable quanity on the stove top. The resulting mess was both sticky and tasty, though not in that exact order…
One thing I noticed is that while I don’t require any of the preservatives that Torani puts in their syrup, they also sometimes add stuff like citric acid. I didn’t notice it at all until I tasted the store-bought and homemade coffee syrup side by side. The citric acid definitely adds a little something, a bit of a zing. I haven’t thought about experimenting with stand-ins for the citric acid yet – maybe some lemon?
I know some folks also recommended using brown sugar in some of the recipes – I think I might give that one a go later. Others try to use homemade caramel. But I think I’ll leave that one to other people. Boiling sugar and water for 5 minutes is plenty dangerous enough for me right now.