Toasted Sugar May Be the Secret Ingredient to Making This Popular Starbucks-Inspired Drink at Home

published Mar 16, 2022
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For coffee lovers, nothing is more highly anticipated — yet, often, polarizing — than the launch of a new Starbucks drink. Each overly descriptive name can be jolting enough so it was only a matter of time before the java lovers everywhere began critiquing the just-released Iced Toasted Vanilla Oatmilk Shaken Espresso. Apparently, it’s a mouthful in more ways than one. 

Popular coffee roaster Dan McLaughlin, aka @softpourn on TikTok, proclaimed it “really gross,” and proceeded to create his own improved version for his almost 1 million followers. Dubbed the “softpourn vanilla toaster,” it was an outlier from step one as McLaughlin rebelliously toasted the sugar instead of toasting the vanilla like Starbucks does. 

In case you’ve never toasted sugar before, McLaughlin notes that you’ll want to add your desired amount of sugar to an oven-proof pan at 350°F for 30 minutes to an hour, stirring occasionally. Once it’s done, the granulated sugar will be slightly browned instead of its traditional white coloring.

He then poured a cup of water and a cup of the toasted sugar into a small saucepan and reduced it by half. Once it started to cool down, he added a teaspoon of vanilla extract and transferred the newly-made syrup to a decanter. 

While a toasted sugar-based simple syrup can be used for a number of things, if you want to use it primarily for your Starbucks-inspired drinks, McLaughlin’s instructions make it easy to do. To assemble the drink, he poured a little bit of the syrup over ice into a shaker. Using a standard double shot, he made the espresso, added it to the shaker and shook it until it was frothy. He poured the mixture into a simple glass mug over ice, topped it with oatmilk and concluded, “We have perfected a drink that Starbucks created and couldn’t have made worse if they tried.”

Although the Iced Toasted Vanilla Oatmilk Shaken Espresso continues to sell out and a number of commenters quietly admitted to liking it, the vast majority — including a shocking number of actual Starbucks baristas — agreed with McLaughlin. “As a shift supervisor, I can confirm the toasted vanilla syrup tastes god awful and should be cancelled asap,” admitted one. 

If you’re wondering which side you’ll find yourself on, you can watch McLaughlin’s video here, do a taste test, and decide for yourself. Whichever you prefer though, you may want to treat yourself to one of the best espresso machines so you can come up with your own creation. Now, wouldn’t that be grande? Or tall or venti or trenta?