What Is Coffee Milk, and Why Should You Try It?

updated Oct 5, 2022
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(Image credit: Flickr/Nancy Walsh)

I’m not talking about coffee with milk, or even a cup of joe that’s way more milk than coffee. Coffee milk is something different entirely. It’s a milky, sweet beverage made by mixing coffee syrup and milk together. And if it isn’t already on your radar, I think it should be.

So, What Is Coffee Milk?

If you hail from Rhode Island, or you’ve spent a decent amount of time there, I’ll wager you’re already closely acquainted with this milky, sweet beverage. After all, coffee milk was declared the official state drink of the Ocean State in 1993.

But for those non-Rhode Islanders out there, coffee milk is simply milk mixed with sweet coffee syrup, stirred together the very same way you’d make a glass of chocolate milk.

Origins of Coffee Milk

Its exact origins aren’t clear, but by the 1920s and 1930s it was a staple of the New England diner scene. Syrups hit the home market shortly thereafter — first Eclipse, then Autocrat (fierce rivals until Autocrat bought Eclipse in 1991) — and a phenomenon was born.

Why You Should Try Coffee Milk

If you believe blended coffee frappes are totally irresistible, coffee milk will be right up your alley. More sweet treat than a way to get your caffeine fix, it comes with that very similar dreamy flavor that you get with coffee ice cream: sweet and creamy, with a mild coffee flavor and zero bitterness.

Plus, unlike brewing a cup of joe, there’s no coffee maker or beans necessary — you just need to get your hands on a bottle of coffee syrup. Autocrat and Eclipse (now owned by Autocrat) are two of the most widely sold brands, although small-batch syrups are also available, both at grocery stores and online.

3 Coffee Syrups to Try

And why not mix it up with your favorite nut milk? We think coffee cashew milk has a nice ring to it.

Have you tried coffee milk? Do you have a favorite syrup?