Coffee milk is a drink made by mixing coffee syrup and milk together in a manner similar to chocolate milk. It is the official state drink of Rhode Island in the United States of America. Coffee syrup is a sweetened coffee concentrate and key ingredient in coffee milk. The syrup is prepared by straining water and sugar through coffee grounds.
While the precise origin of coffee milk is unclear, several sources trace it back to the turn of the 20th century to the Italian immigrant population in Providence, Rhode Island. In southeastern parts of New England it can be found in store dairy cases by other flavored milks. It is also a common item on diner menus, university dining halls, and paired with hot wieners at New York System restaurants. The popularity and availability of coffee milk remains concentrated in Rhode Island.
Coffee syrup was produced by straining hot water and sugar through coffee grounds, and was also prepared by preparing a large amount of hot coffee and then adding sugar to it afterward. A cold-process method for coffee syrup involved soaking pulverized coffee beans for some time and then adding sugar. It was originally produced in the 1930s in corner drug stores, and was targeted towards children, while their parents drank hot coffee. Due to the popularity of the product, coffee syrup was bottled and sold by merchants. The first mass-produced coffee syrup was introduced by the Silmo Packing Company of New Bedford, Massachusetts in 1932. In 1938 Warwick, Rhode Island-based Eclipse Food Products began heavily promoting its own coffee syrup product, with Lincoln, Rhode Island's Autocrat Coffee coming to market in the 1940s. Autocrat purchased long-time competitor Eclipse in 1991 and today produces both brands of syrup.
Contemporary versions of coffee syrup may be prepared using brewed coffee and sugar that is cooked in a saucepan.
Use in other beverages
Coffee milk and coffee syrup have been used as ingredients in other beverages.
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- State of Rhode Island General Laws, Section 42-4-15 – official Rhode Island state drink designation