You can walk into any high street coffee place and spend nearly a fiver on a flavoured latte of your choice – vanilla, cinnamon, chai, gingerbread, and of course pumpkin spice – and there are many more available. Or you can buy a bottle of the best coffee syrup available and have them at home at a fraction of the price, made to your own personal taste and, if you do it right, much better quality than what you will find in your local coffee serving establishment.
But you do need to do it right.
There are some very naff syrups out there – synthetic, overly sugared or just plain unpleasant tasting – yes there is a world of sub-par coffee flavouring available. That’s why we’ve put this list together – six of our favourite coffee syrups on today’s market and all of them are available for UK coffee guzzling consumers.
Though we are primarily interested in coffee here, it’s worth noting that a good coffee syrup can be used to flavour other things, like hot, frothy milk, cocktails and even desserts. If you get the right flavour, you could be jazzing up much more than your morning brew.
What Can You Make With A Coffee Syrup?
There are plenty of coffee syrups out there, but it all goes to waste if you don’t know what to do with them. And there is a lot you can do with them.
For starters, a single pump of syrup into any cup of coffee – from frothy lattes and cappuccinos to more intense macchiatos and espressos – will add a dash of extra flavour and create a more complex overall expression.
You needn’t stop at espresso-based hot drinks, however. Summertime iced lattes, made with plenty of ice and a shot or two of vanilla or something fruitier, can be the perfect pick-me-up as it cools you down. Similarly, feel free to leave the coffee out entirely – milkshakes made with coffee syrup can be a delight for the whole family.
Then there is hot chocolate. On a cold, rainy day, adding a squirt of cinnamon or gingerbread syrup to your hot chocolate or mocha can be the most comforting thing going. Forget the fact that it’s awful outside – inside, you are cosy, warm and very content.
Then there is syrup’s use in cooking. Though essences can sometimes be called for, most syrups work well as flavourings in baking for cakes and pastries. They also work well mixed into cold desserts, like yoghurt, ice cream or mascarpone.
Realistically, if you’ve got anything that can take an extra shot of flavour, a coffee syrup can be your best friend. Play around with a few flavours in a few recipes and find out what works best for you.
How To Choose The Right Coffee Syrup
Coffee syrups can be used in other things, as above. The reverse isn’t true – if you have a cocktail syrup or baking essence, it is likely not suitable for coffee. The flavour balance will be out.
Flavoured syrups are generally a simple formula of sugar (or sugar substitute like agave), mixed with hot water until all the sugar has dissolved, with flavourings added. How suitable a syrup is for coffee will depend on this final formula – will the sugar dissolve properly in hot water and milk and will the flavour mix well with coffee? Will the syrup blend into the coffee or overpower it? Will they already contain caffeine (like many concentrates, for example), and so lead to a bad case of the jitters if you mix it in with coffee?
So, the first rule of business is to choose an actual coffee syrup – which, of course, we have done below – or a syrup known to work well with coffee.
After this, we’re looking at the flavour itself. Is it natural tasting, or synthetic? Does it blend well with coffee and milk? Is it overly sweet, not sweet enough, or spot on? If it tastes nice and blends well into coffee, it’s a good coffee syrup.
In terms of consumer care, however, it needs to do these things whilst being competitively priced. If it is good quality but costs a fortune, it likely won’t make our list. Likewise, if it’s cheap as chips and tastes like vinegar, it won’t be a contender. We want a good balance of quality and economy, as with all the products we review.
Other than these things, there are perhaps some more individualistic perks to look for. Is it a diet syrup or a full sugar one? Can you taste the difference? Is there a good range of flavours with any given syrup, or do they specialise in one signature taste?
Can A Coffee Syrup Be Healthy?
If you’re looking for a low calorie drink to help you lose weight, they are good. This doesn’t make them healthy. They can still be packed with unnatural flavours and preservatives.
They are also still sweet, even if this sweetness comes from zero calorie sucralose rather than sugar. This means that the body will respond to it in the same way it would anything else sweet – by releasing a load of insulin. Insulin spikes like this can lead to hunger pangs, which will cause you to want to eat more, and can provide some very serious complications for those suffering with diabetes.
Realistically, if you’re diabetic, or are wanting to keep healthy, either making room for sugar in your diet, from your daily carb intake, or foregoing syrup entirely, may both be more viable options than swigging back zero-sugar, sweetened drinks all day long.
However, many syrups are free-from plenty of allergens – gluten being a main one. So, whilst they might not be too positively healthy, they needn’t be actively dangerous or unhealthy. And drinking a coffee with a dash of syrup will always be healthier than drinking a heavily sugar-laden drink like cola.
Our Top 6 Coffee Syrups
Balancing these things and, ultimately, getting ourselves a good cup of coffee, will allow us to find a syrup’s true worth. The six below are all worthy and then some – they are some of the best coffee syrups available in then UK today.
Monin Premium Coffee Syrup
Let’s take a moment to talk about Monin. You will see their name often if you are getting into coffee syrups in any way. They are a French producer of syrups and liqueurs, renowned for the subtlety and range of their flavours and a reputation for quality.
If you want something good, go with what the professionals use – you will find their syrups in many cafes and delis, though they are, of course, available for home purchase. Their organic syrups are premium quality. They use completely natural ingredients and steer well clear of any artificial colouring.
They have quite a wide range, too – so much so that they make up fully half of this list! You can find the usual suspects therein – vanilla and cinnamon, and so forth. They will also have some more avant-garde flavours if you want to get experimental. In particular, their lavender syrup, whilst divisive (it’s one hell of a colour!) is wonderful.
You get a slightly tamer selection here – though I would always go with a selection from somewhere as diverse as Monin, especially as you start out, to get an idea of what you like and what they offer. This gift set contains five, 5 cl bottles includes Amaretto, Caramel, Gingerbread, Hazelnut and Vanilla, all of which are staples of any syrup lover’s cupboard. It’s perfect as intended, as a gift for someone, or simply as a way to treat yourself at home.
Jordan’s Skinny Syrups
If you are looking to cut down your sugar intake and perhaps bring your caloric intake down, all power to you. Many of us could do with following your example. But you still want a nice cup of coffee, right? This is where sugar-free options come into it.
There are few sugar-free syrups as good as Jordan’s Skinny Syrups. To be honest, there are few syrups of any kind, including full-fat, full-sugar options, that are as good as Jordan’s Skinny Syrups.
The flavours are strong and pronounced without being in any way overpowering – which is key for a coffee syrup. Jordan’s Skinny Syrups have zero carbs (meaning also zero sugar) and zero calories. They are also gluten-free and kosher free, making them perfect for a range of dietary requirements. Their salted caramel flavouring is superbly comforting.
Their 750 ml bottles can be used with most syrup pumps, so you can turn a corner of your kitchen into your own, in-house coffee house.
MONIN Premium Gingerbread Coffee Syrup
Monin do not disappoint, here.
You get fairly complex spiced notes of ginger and cinnamon – as any baker will tell you, this is key to creating a good quality gingerbread man! In fact, drinking a milky latte flavoured with 15-20ml of this syrup will have you remembering the smell of baking cookies as a child.
Monin’s gingerbread syrup can be used delightfully in coffees in this way. It can also be used in hot chocolates and cocktails, helping to create a feeling of ‘Hygge’ that will see you cosying up by the fire until spring.
It is suitable for vegans and vegetarian diets, is Halal and Kosher friendly, and uses pure sugar syrup and all-natural flavourings.
This reliance on pure sugar and natural ingredients will deliver a perfect sweetness, not at all artificial or chemical tasting like many products on the market. Your coffee will taste as nice as the barista in your local artisan coffee shop would make it.
Raven Cafe Coffee Syrup Pyramid
If you like options, if you’re looking to find your favourite flavour and have yet to discover it, or if you want a perfect gift for a coffee loving friend or family member, Raven Café’s Coffee Syrup Pyramid is a lovely choice.
You get 5 individual 60 ml plastic containers of coffee syrup in the pack – Hazelnut, Vanilla, Caramel, Cinnamon and Gingerbread. All taken together, they offer a perfect, diverse blend to gift to anybody.
However, coffee syrup sets are ten a penny. Why should you go with this particular one?
For starters, the packaging is lovely. This doesn’t matter. If you’re a coffee lover, the quality of the coffee is paramount. But it’s nice, either as a treat for you or someone else.
Then there is the quality of the syrup itself. The quality of the coffee you will get when using this set is magnificent. They are far nicer than basic syrups, with delicately blended, bold yet not overpowering flavours that sit well on the palate and mix really nicely with any style of coffee.
You even get a cocoa powder included, for the perfect flavoured cappuccino.
Monin Vanilla Syrup
Vanilla is one of the most common coffee syrups you can find, with good reason. It is subtle, so won’t really change the fundamental flavour of your coffee. However, it hits the high notes that strong coffee generally misses out on, giving it a lifting sweetness that brings a general roundness to your brew.
Monin use the finest Madagascan vanilla pod essence to make their vanilla syrup (for anyone wondering, Madagascar is to vanilla as Champagne is to sparkling wine). They have been making and perfecting their recipe for nearly a century, during which time it has proven its popularity and staying power beyond dispute.
If you want a lift to your coffee, try vanilla. If you want some of the best vanilla going, try Monin’s syrup.
As with their other products, Monin’s vanilla syrup is suitable for vegan and vegetarian diets, is alcohol-free, Halal and Kosher, and is made from pure sugar syrup with only natural flavourings.
The Skinny Food Company Zero Calorie Salted Caramel Syrup
The Skinny Food Company’s Barista range of syrups are perfect for coffee, but also work incredibly well as baking ingredients or when used in cold shakes and deserts. In fact, it works particularly well mixed with natural Greek yoghurt or quark, for a simple, quick and healthy breakfast or desert.
The salted caramel flavouring is tasty and pretty comforting, perfect for use in hot coffee on long winter nights, whilst also being a good pick-me-up, refresher, perfect for iced lattes or milkshakes in the summer.
Sweetened with sucralose, The Skinny Food Company’s syrups are gluten free, fat free, sugar free, calorie free, vegan friendly and Keto approved – with a list like this, it’s clear to see why they are a go-to for many health-conscious coffee lovers.
However, do note that they use Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate and colourings in their products, so it’s not all sunshine and rainbows (even if using their syrups will give you a slimmer waistline.) Some users also report a mild laxative result from overuse (this is from several cups per day – going for one or two is perfectly safe!), so do watch out for any… irregularities in your habits.
Hopefully you have seen something on our list that takes your fancy. If you like classic, understated flavours simply and expertly crafted, anything from Monin will work for you – though, as above, their vanilla and festive flavours are perennial favourites. If you are watching the calories, a zero calorie, zero sugar alternative might be for you. If you want this without sacrificing flavour (far from it – they are better than most full-bodied versions!) then something like The Skinny Food Company or Jordan’s Skinny Syrups will be best for you.
Whichever you decide to go with, you are in for a treat. You will have a delicate, expertly blended syrup that will work with, not against, your coffee, giving you a fuller flavour and a more rounded experience. It really will feel like you have imported an artisan coffee bar into your own front room.