This time of year, we're a sucker for anything that helps us get a cold caffeine fix, stat — especially any way we can do that on the cheap, at home. And that's exactly why we were excited to see the new Trader Joe's Coffee Syrup popping up in stores.
What is coffee syrup, you ask? Unless you live in or frequent Rhode Island — where the ingredient became popular in the 1920s or '30s — you may not be familiar with the sweet, thick coffee concentrate, which is used to make coffee milk, the official state drink of America's smallest state. Think of it like a coffee version of the chocolate syrup you'd use to make chocolate milk.
Now, Trader Joe's is bringing the ingredient to the masses in a pretty impressive form: Its version is made only with cane sugar, water and coffee (some brands out there use high fructose corn syrup and artificial colorings). Plus, it comes in a pretty adorable old-timey bottle.
A "family native to the Northeast" makes the syrup for Trader Joe's, which famously keeps its private-label producers under wraps. It sells for $4.49 for 16 ounces, and will be available for a limited time.
Here are some of the ways you can use Trader Joe's Coffee Syrup.
1. In milk
First off, you need to be a purist and try it for its intended use, in coffee milk. Typically, people use about 2 tablespoons of coffee syrup for 8 ounces of milk, but play around and add to taste — here's how TJ's itself serves it, over ice.
2. As an ice cream flavoring
While you can most definitely just top a sundae with it, Instagrammer @xsteenabeana came up with the idea to make her own dairy-free ice cream with it, using just coconut cream, instant coffee and cacao nibs along with it.
3. On pancakes...
With the coffee syrup's thicker consistency, Culinary Butterfly blogger Lisa Soldo-Johnson opted to sub it in place of regular syrup, pouring it right over pancakes.
4. ...and French toast
Naturally, the coffee syrup also pairs well with French toast — and a scoop of ice cream on top, as you can see from this shot by Instagrammer @wilabong. He also recommends topping a bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal and ice cream with the syrup, for more of a high-concept twist on the treat.
5. Don't forget the cocktail!
Of course, it will work just fine in grown-up drinks, too. Take this cue from Nola's restaurant in central New York state, and add coffee syrup to coffee (they used hot toasted hazelnut coffee, but any — iced or hot — would work great), along with hazelnut liqueur, and top with whipped cream.