What is Coffee Milk?

While searching for unusual ways to flavor a glass of milk, you might come across two words that confuse you more than it seems possible: coffee milk. However you interpret that pairing will be wrong. It’s not coffee with a splash of milk—or even mostly milk. It’s not a special milk to add to coffee for lattes or someone forgetting the name for creamer. Coffee milk is somehow something different. But what is it? 

It’s a Northern thing.  

Well, sort of. Coffee milk is the official state drink of Rhode Island, but it’s appeared across New England. While no one is sure how it originated, it was available for purchase in the 1920s and 1930s in New England restaurants. Apparently, it began with a drugstore owner experimenting to attract new customers, pouring milk over the day’s coffee grounds. From a madman or genius, the person has yet to receive credit or provide an explanation for how this drink concept came to be.  

It’s not coffee. It’s too sweet for that. Coffee milk is sweeter like a frappe, but with the smooth texture of delicious milk and without most of the caffeine. 

To make coffee milk is a simple concept, as it’s like making flavored milk at home. It’s coffee-flavored milk… you use syrup! Just like chocolate milk, however strong or weak you want the flavor to be depends on your ratio of syrup and milk. To make coffee milk, it is milk mixed with coffee syrup. And that’s where the recipe gets you again if you have no idea what coffee syrup is.  

Coffee comes from ground beans, not syrup. Apparently, it the remnants of boiled sugar and water poured over and then strained from coffee grounds. Besides adding it to milk, coffee syrup can also give desserts a strong coffee flavor. (Ice cream with coffee syrup, anyone?) Coffee syrup can be made at home or store-bought.    

Coffee milk may be a Northern thing, but it can still travel down South for a new take. Have you tried coffee milk before?