Sweeten, Enhance, And Decadently Upgrade Your Coffee With Caramel

11 min read MAR 26, 2023

Caramel is the flavor of indulgence, adding a decadent, rich, creamy, and downright luxurious element to any dessert, even those best enjoyed by slow sips.

Specifically, the combination of caramel and coffee results in a flavor duo that is so delicious, it’s practically sinful!

Think those adjectives are a bit much?

Picture the following scenes and see if the descriptions are fitting:

You’re out with friends and decide to splurge on an afternoon pick-me-up that doubles as a dessert, an iced caramel latte.

When you’re served the carefully crafted brew, you observe the thick, golden hued lines drizzled against the inside of your chilly glass.

A cloud of dense cream separates the thick, dripping, saccharin on top from the marbled brown and beige hues swirling in hurried combination throughout the glass.

You take the first sip, and your taste buds are immediately flooded with a rich, buttery sweetness complementing the cool, creamy milk, and bold yet smooth coffee.

The sauce which seemed to be etched within the walls of the glass droops as the creamy java creation evacuates the cup with each sip.

Or, on a day when you’re chilled to the bone, you prepare a bold, dark brew in your French press.

Then, when adding a spot of thick, smooth heavy cream, you also opt for a tablespoon of golden-hued caramel syrup.

As you stir the additions into your mug, you watch the deeply dark brew marble, then lighten.

As your spoon moves within the liquid, it’s as if the brew has transformed into liquid velvet, nearly melting the utensil with each slow, swirling stir.

You sip slowly, your mouth enveloped in warm, creamy, and smooth sweetness. Minus frills and fanciful aesthetics to top your mug, your tongue experiences a pampered, rich treat where ordinary has turned into a momentary escape to confectionery luxury.

In both scenarios, we could still boil it down to those two words: Practically. Sinful.

Ah yes, the undeniably decadent combination of coffee and caramel is something worth celebrating, and today we’re going to do just that!

In doing so, we’ll take a look at why this combo makes such a perfect pair, exploring how this tasty coffee add-in is made, what sets it apart, and then be sure to stick around for a few ways to make this confection on your own.

And of course, we’ll also include a few ways to perfectly add it to your brew as well.

Why Coffee And Caramel Make The Perfect Pair

As we saw above, coffee and caramel make a truly mouth-watering, indulgent pair.

And as far as statistics, caramel is one of the most popular flavorings for coffee!

But, what is it about these two that make such an incredible union?

Perhaps it’s because caramel is said to be a flavor that evokes feelings of comfort, even nostalgia, spanning multiple generations.

Hmm, sounds like a perfect description of coffee as well.

I mean, how many of you experience a mind-rush of memories, even feelings of warmth and comfort when you smell the wafting aroma or taste the first sip of your favorite brew?

Then, apart from comfort and nostalgia, this combo makes perfect scientific sense as well.

First, the addition of caramel works with, rather than against, your brew.

You see, caramel is made primarily from sugar, it’s just cooked long enough to break down the molecules in the sucrose, allowing different flavor compounds to develop.

And, these ‘new’ flavor compounds are typically far more complex than ordinary sugar.

Caramel, while still providing the sweetness of sugar, also possesses a buttery, rich, and mellow flavor, and this works to tame the classic bitterness of coffee in a more pronounced way than regular sugar.

Even without the change in flavor compounds, sugar (caramel included) causes a molecular change in your coffee, the result of the caffeine, water, and sugar all interacting to essentially block the bitter notes in your brew and actually bring out the coffee’s natural flavors.

Then, some caramel sauces also incorporate the use of heavy cream in their making.

And, this addition serves as a double tamer of those bitter components of coffee since milk (here cream) contains proteins that soften the bitterness of java by binding to some of the compounds in your brew.

For further flavor amplification, this ingredient also contains fat which neutralizes bitterness as well, here through its calcium content.

Less bitterness, more nuanced flavors, rich, creamy textures…it’s no wonder so many people enjoy adding caramel to their cup of joe!

But, what kind of caramel are we talking about here?

Are we just referring to the gooey, sticky, golden-amber colored stuff you drizzle on top of the whipped cream resting on a mug of coffee? What about caramel flavored syrups that you can stir into your java?

As we mentioned earlier, the primary ingredient in any caramel syrup or sauce is sugar.

So, the difference between syrups and sauces here lies in how this confection is made.

Caramel syrup is made in a similar way to simple syrup.

In a simple syrup, sugar and water are cooked together until the sugar dissolves and the mixture cooks down to form a semi-thick, clear, sugary syrup that can easily be stirred into cold or hot beverages, like coffee.

Caramel, though also made from sugar, cooks this component for longer periods of time (typically prior to the addition of water) thereby transforming the sucrose molecules, bringing out deeper, more rich and complex flavors we know and recognize as caramel.

In a caramel syrup, which you’ll see how to make, step by step, in the next section, the end result isn’t clear like a simple syrup, but golden or amber colored, indicating this molecular change has occurred.

Caramel sauce on the other hand, is thick, sticky, and slow-flowing. As this is often stored in the refrigerator, you may even find it necessary to heat caramel sauce slightly to soften up the texture enough to drizzle it onto (or into) your coffee.

The difference between caramel syrup and caramel sauce, other than the color and texture, is the addition of butter and cream.

Most caramel sauces begin the same way syrup is started, by heating (or cooking) sugar until it dissolves and browns, or caramelizes.

But, with a sauce, once the classic amber hue is achieved in that first step, butter is added, eventually followed by heavy cream.

These additions of fat enhance the flavors of the caramel as well as providing a softening element for the sauce to be used in semi-liquid form as opposed to transforming this confection completely into candies.

Mmmm, anyone ready for a caramel coffee yet?

Since we’ve covered the broad strokes, let’s move on and leave you with a few specifics so you can create your own, delicious, caramel coffee masterpieces at home!

At Home Caramel Coffee

If caramel is your go-to coffee topping or add-in, you can easily make this tasty java friend right in your own kitchen!

Below you’ll find a few simple recipes, one for a thick, rich caramel sauce perfect for blending in or drizzling on top of your favorite coffee creations, as well as a decadent caramel syrup, perfect for adding some velvety sweetness within your brew, hot or iced!

And, of course, we wouldn’t leave you without a few amazingly delicious caramel coffee recipes to try…whether you’re using homemade caramel additions or not.

Is your mouth watering yet, or is it just me?

Easy Caramel Sauce

Making your own caramel sauce to use in a macchiato, top a hot or iced latte, or simply drizzle on top of any coffee creation is undeniably delicious!

The best part? You only need three ingredients, a good stirring arm, and a bit of patience to make this delicious coffee partner!

And, if you’d like a lower carb or sugar subbed option, most classic monk fruit sweeteners can be equally substituted for cane sugar. (a one-to-one ratio) Just be sure to check your preferred low carb or keto-friendly sweetener for an exact ratio, and you can follow the rest of the instructions as-written.


  • 1 cup cane sugar
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ cup heavy cream



*Have all ingredients ready/nearby to incorporate quickly.

  • Add sugar to a large heavy bottomed pan and heat on medium-high heat until it begins to melt. This should take 1-2 minutes, and you’ll want to stir continuously to avoid burning the sugar.
  • As the sugar starts to melt, lower the heat a bit and begin stirring vigorously (a whisk or wooden spoon works best).
  • Once all sugar crystals have completely melted, the mixture should be a medium amber color. Stop stirring at this point and immediately add the butter to the pan, whisking until melted.
  • Once the butter has melted, remove the pan from the heat and add the heavy cream.
  • Whisk until the sauce is smooth.
  • Let the mixture cool in the pan for a few minutes, then transfer to a glass jar and allow the sauce to cool to room temperature.
  • Once cooled, you can store in the refrigerator, covered (air tight) for up to 2 weeks.

Simple Caramel Syrup

As we mentioned in the section above, simple syrup is made by cooking down sugar in water, allowing the mixture to thicken for use in cold drinks where dissolving granulated sugars becomes a bit more difficult due to the chilly temp of your beverage.

Of course, you don’t have to reserve this for cold drinks.

While syrups definitely mix better in iced coffee drinks, you can enjoy your caramel syrup in freshly pulled shots of espresso, pour-overs, drip coffee, in blended iced coffee treats, and so much more!

*And, once again, feel free to sub your preferred low-carb or keto-friendly sweetener here in the ratio provided on your product of choice.


  • ¾ cup cane sugar
  • 1 cup water, divided
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract



  • Add sugar and ½ cup water to a medium saucepan and heat over medium heat until the mixture begins to simmer. Stir occasionally to ensure all sugar is incorporated.
  • Once completely dissolved, reduce heat to low and simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally until the mixture resembles a light amber color.
  • While the mixture is simmering, warm the remaining ½ cup of water until hot. (Keep hot until ready to use.)
  • Once the sugar mixture is a light golden color, remove from heat and carefully whisk in the remaining hot water. Use caution here as the addition of the hot water will cause splattering. Should any of the mixture begin to harden in this step, simply return to the heat to completely dissolve.
  • Once the water is incorporated (with no hardening of the sugar), add vanilla, stir, and set aside to cool.
  • Once cooled, transfer to an airtight container where the mixture can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Cinna-Bomb Caramel Coffee (Hot or Iced)

If you’re looking for a simple, delicious, creamy, caramel coffee treat, look no further!

This caramel coffee recipe is great hot or iced, perfect for a year-round treat when you add a bit of whipped cream and caramel sauce, or a daily pick me up when you forgo the frills.

We’ll list the details for a hot brew, but you can check out the note below the instructions if you prefer all things iced.


  • 8 ounces freshly brewed Lifeboost Dark Roast Coffee
  • 1-2 tablespoons caramel syrup
  • ½ cup milk of your choice (dairy or non dairy)
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon ceylon cinnamon, plus extra for topping
  • Caramel sauce (optional for drizzling on top)


  • Add freshly brewed coffee to a large mug, stir in caramel syrup, vanilla, and cinnamon, then set aside.
  • Add milk to an electric frother and froth on the heated setting.
  • Top coffee mixture with creamy, frothed milk, then sprinkle a bit of cinnamon and a drizzle of caramel sauce on top, if desired. And, enjoy!

**If you want to try this recipe iced, you’ll simply sub cold brew or brewed and chilled coffee for the hot coffee component. To fully incorporate the ingredients, we recommend adding them to a shaker cup and shaking vigorously to combine. Then pour over ice in a tall glass.

And, you can still froth your milk, just use a handheld frother or froth on the cold setting in an electric frother then top your brew with it. Of course, you can also simply add the milk along with the other ingredients, sans frothing.

Summer’s Side-Kick

What could beat the heat on a hot summer’s day better than a coffee milkshake? A caramel-coffee milkshake, that’s what!!

While a peas and carrots milkshake combo doesn’t sound appetizing in any way, this dessert-match-made-in-heaven, and equally iconic combo certainly does!

This caramel coffee milkshake will cool you off, satisfy your sweetest dessert cravings, and fulfill your daily need for java. A win, win, win in our book!

*Using a strong cold brew (concentrate) will allow the coffee flavor to really shine through in this milkshake. But, you can certainly opt to simply brew and chill your coffee if you’d like.

*serves 2

  • 1 ½ cups cold brewed Lifeboost Medium Roast Coffee
  • 4 cups vanilla ice cream
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons caramel sauce, plus extra for topping
  • Whipped cream (optional for topping)


  • Add cold brew, ice cream, heavy cream, and caramel sauce to a blender.
  • Blend on high until smooth and creamy. (If you prefer a thicker milkshake, you can add more ice cream until you reach a desired consistency.)
  • Divide between two glasses, then top with whipped cream and a drizzle of caramel sauce if desired. Enjoy!

    Check out Lifeboost Coffee Medium Roast.


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