When we decided to try making our own house-made syrups, we had one objective in mind. Create something delicious that compliments our coffee. Sounds simple enough right?
Well, the best thing about handmade products is that you can manipulate them however you want; unfortunately, it is also one of the most challenging. So the scope of house-made syrup development quickly moved beyond the initial “make it yummy” objective.
Among the myriad of considerations: must be yummy (still top of the list), must be the right viscosity, must dissolve in beverages ranging in temperature from 140 degrees to 200 degrees, must suspend in cold beverages and blended beverages, compliments our house espresso, decaf espresso, and our single origin espresso, and tastes delicious, not only on their own, but also with coffee, cream, milk, and our milk alternatives (soy milk and almond milk).
We put our baristas, kitchen staff, and managers to the task of taste testing! It’s a tough job, but we managed to find more than a couple people willing to drink countless lattes and sodas day after day, as we fine tuned each of our six new flavors.
Vanilla was one of the first syrups we worked on. In the first taste test, the sugar to water ratio proved too dense for suspension, i.e. all the vanilla syrup ended up in the bottom of the drink. Anyone who has added sugar packets to their coffee and forgot to stir it knows what this is like. Your coffee is not as sweet as you’d like; then when you get to the bottom there is a sludge that, when consumed in one unsuspecting gulp, can make your stomach churn. Yuck!
In trial number two, we discovered the perfect ratio of sugar to water, the sweetness was complementary without being overwhelming and the syrup was able to be suspended in all of the drinks. We used a natural vanilla extract to flavor this syrup, but taste-testers came to the consensus that this just wasn’t vanilla-y enough. In our next batch, we added some vanilla beans to marinate in the syrup, but it still wasn’t strong enough.
For batch number four we slit the vanilla bean down the side, this infused more vanilla into the syrup, but still not quite enough. Batch number five, not only did we slit the vanilla bean, but we allowed it to marinate overnight in the warm simple syrup before straining it out. Perfection!
Vanilla took us only five batches to find the right recipe, but for some of the other flavors, we needed many, many more. Recipe development for our syrups was a labor of love. And in the end, our final recipes contain nothing but the perfect amount of sugar, water and natural flavors, extracts and essences obtained locally.
Next time you are in, try one of our house-made natural flavors in your drink. You can choose from Almond, Caramel, Coconut, Hazelnut, Lavender, Peppermint, Graham Cracker (seasonal), Pumpkin Spice (seasonal) or my personal favorite, Vanilla; we think you’ll taste the difference.
*Lastly, big shout out to Water Street employee and Syrup-Maker-Extraordinaire Amy Marr who made test batch after test batch after test batch of delicious syrups, in our tireless pursuit of perfection!