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What Exactly Is Coffee Milk And Where Does It Come From?

Coffee milk from M&M New York System
Coffee milk from M&M New York System - gretelbird/Instagram

To the uninitiated, "coffee milk" might conjure up the image of a cup of joe filled with an excess of milk, but the bean-based beverage is a little different from that. Unlike most other drinks that proudly brandish the word "coffee," coffee milk doesn't really require any machines or tools to come to life. Instead, this beverage is actually a combination of sweet coffee syrup mixed with milk -- it's really that straightforward. Just as you'd stir in some chocolate sauce for chocolate milk, this flavor-boosted drink comes together in the exact same fashion.

Unlike with other sweetened coffee beverages, such as Vietnamese iced coffee, most people tend to enjoy coffee milk as more of a sweet, creamy treat rather than an energizing, caffeinated beverage. You can drink it hot or cold, for breakfast, for dessert, or alongside hot dogs -- whatever choice you make will likely be the right one.

While you might not have heard of this beverage before now, coffee milk is already beloved in Rhode Island, and it has actually been the official drink of the state since 1993. It may seem like a niche offering, but it remains popular throughout New England. And yes, Rhode Island really is the unexpected birthplace of this sweet, velvety delight.

Read more: The 15 Best Milk Brands, Ranked

How Coffee Milk Came To Rhode Island

Customers at a pharmacy soda fountain
Customers at a pharmacy soda fountain - Hulton Archive/Getty Images

While the origins of this drink are hazy, most people trace the treat to Italian immigrants who settled in New England in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. These expats are thought to have introduced coffee milk to the area since they were already accustomed to sipping sweetened coffee back home and using the leftover coffee grounds to make syrup. The beverage became popular across New England and really took off by the 1930s. In Rhode Island, in particular, diners started adding coffee milk to their menus. Around this time, the first commercial bottles of coffee syrup were developed.

While that is one widely accepted tale about the beginnings of coffee milk, other origin stories have also circulated. For example, coffee milk fan Dave Lanning, the owner of the brand Dave's Coffee, which sells coffee syrup, told The Providence Journal that credit may be due to one ambitious Rhod Island soda jerk. "The kids were getting bored with the typical drinks and wanted to feel like 'grown-ups' that would usually be drinking coffee. He concocted a mixture of strong coffee and a whole bunch of sugar ... mixed this into a tall glass of cold milk and ... coffee milk was born," he said.

While its exact history has been lost to time, one thing that is clear is that many people love this drink. If you have yet to try it for yourself, the good news is that it's easily assembled.

How To Make This Sweet Coffee Treat

Eclipse coffee syrup in supermarket
Eclipse coffee syrup in supermarket - charlespmok/Instagram

There are a few different brands that sell coffee syrup, like Autocrat, Eclipse, and Dave's Coffee, all of which sell their wares online. Still, if you don't want to wait, or can't find a bottle in-store, there's always the option of making your own, and luckily, this syrup comes together easily. To whip up your own coffee syrup, combine brewed coffee with sugar in a saucepan, and simmer until the mixture thickens. Before using it, however, you'll need to let it cool down (check after a few minutes in the fridge). Once chilled, you can go abut mixing your syrup with cold milk. Actual measurements will likely depend on how much coffee milk you want, but syrup brands like Autocrat suggest 2 tablespoons of sauce per 8 ounces of milk for the most balanced flavor.

Once you've stirred your homemade coffee sauce into your milk, voila. You've got a classic silky-sweet beverage ready to enjoy. So whether you're looking for ways to upgrade your morning coffee or you're eager to add a new sweet dessert drink to your repertoire, look no further than this Rhode Island staple.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.