Flavor Basics

by Kari Guddeck @ Barista Pro Shop

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Flavored syrups are more than just sugar water; they can add a unique touch to your shop and serve as an easy add-on for a variety of drinks. Flavored syrups have become a staple and a must have on the coffee house scene with their ease of use and endless possibilities. Did you say Blood Orange? That's right, syrup is available in a mind boggling assortment of flavors and most brands offer some sugar free versions as well. The majority of you may already carry an array of flavored syrups and use them in:

  1. Lattes-From a simple Vanilla Latte to a Nutty Monkey Latte (banana, chocolate, peanut butter), syrups can be added to espresso and steamed milk by the single flavor or used together to create unique latte recipes.
  2. Steamers-A non-coffee alternative and great for kids. Add any flavor to steamed milk, top with a dollop of whip cream, and voila…you've taken hot chocolate to a whole new level!
  3. Just a cup of Jo-until you add flavor. Add flavored syrup to your drip coffee for a simple twist on the traditional cup of coffee. Many lines of syrup also offer "simple syrup", "pure cane syrup", or "honey sweeteners" which can be used in place of sugar and other sweeteners.
  4. A cup of milk-This is another great option for kids. Use plastic cups and show off the variety of colors flavored syrups can add to a cup of milk. What kid doesn't like drinking green milk (lime, kiwi, peppermint paddy, etc.)?
  5. Italian Sodas-A cost effective and very popular drink on hot days. Just add flavored syrup to soda water and ice and you've got it. Make it an Italian Cream Soda by adding cream and whipped cream. This is another kid pleaser with a colorful presentation.
  6. Tea-The simple syrup or honey sweeteners mentioned earlier work well with hot and cold tea and are easier to mix than sugar. For sweet tea add lemon, raspberry, or peach syrup for a fruity twist.
  7. Frappes and Smoothies-Already making blended drinks? Add syrup for a whole new flavor profile. Peppermint or crème de menthe added to a blended mocha makes for an extra cool and refreshing treat.
  8. Whipped Cream-If you make your own whipped cream, try experimenting with different flavors. Peppermint Paddy makes green topping perfect for St. Patty's day. Try cherry, raspberry, or strawberry for a pink/red Valentine's Day topping. Maple spice and cinnamon make great whipped cream for hot holiday drinks. Coconut whipped cream topping a white chocolate frappe can't be beat!

With these options and more available to coffee houses it's easy to see the benefits of carrying flavored syrups. Now the decision becomes what syrup line to carry and implementing new flavors and recipes in your shop.

Brand & Product Comparison

Da Vinci, Monin, and Torani are three of the best known syrup manufacturers, and Barista Pro Shop carries all three. These lines offer a variety of flavors and some sugar free as well. Choosing a syrup line may hinge on factors such as your customer base, variety of flavors available, sugar free flavors available, cost per bottle, and your own personal preference.

Da Vinci

Founded in Seattle over a decade ago, Da Vinci Gourmet offers one of the largest lines of flavored syrups. Flavors include the classics as well as unique options such as toasted marshmallow and cookie dough. The line also has a sizeable offering of sugar free syrups made with Splenda; perfect for people watching calories or avoiding sugar. Some of the more popular flavors are also available in plastic bottles. Da Vinci adds preservatives to its syrup extending the shelf life.


This company began selling their naturally flavored syrups in 1912 and it is still family-owned and operated. Monin offers a wide range of syrup flavors, including distinctive options such as lavender and chipotle pineapple. Monin's smaller sugar free line, O'free, is sweetened with Eridex and Splenda. A few regular and sugar free flavors are also available in plastic one liter bottles. Monin has recently added a small, certified organic line of syrups. Monin syrups are marked with an expiration date and they usually have a shelf life of a couple of years (excluding the plastic bottles, which is shorter).


Rinaldo and Ezilda Torre blended their first Torani Italian syrups in 1925 using recipes brought from Lucca, Italy. Playing an integral part in the popularization of the flavored latte in the United States, Torani’s line now consists of over 80 naturally flavored syrups including a selection of Splenda sweetened sugar free options. New to the Torani line are organic and dairy friendly options. With a long shelf life and flavors like cupcake and pink grapefruit, Torani gives you the tools to let your drink creativity flow!

A word on the tools you'll need:

Consistency of your finished product is one of the most important things you can focus on. If a customer has an excellent drink at your coffee house, they'll return expecting that same drink next time. Consistency ensures customer loyalty. In order to achieve this, you'll need to train all of your baristas to adhere to your shop's methods and recipes. Using syrup pumps is an excellent way to build a consistent drink. If used properly, pumps offer the easiest and most precise measurement of syrup. If you decide against pumps, make sure to measure syrup in a shot glass to guarantee uniformity in drink preparation.

Syrup display racks can make storage and use of your syrups easier. Most racks are a tiered design which frees up more counter space. Racks display syrups in an easy to see manner allowing baristas to go straight for the syrup they need rather than search through bottles that are simply sitting on the counter.

Recipe Links and Strategies:


Honey Nutt Latté

¾ oz Torani Honey Vanilla syrup
½ oz Torani Butter Pecan syrup
10 oz Steamed Milk
2 or 3 Shots of Espresso

Put syrup in 16 oz cup. Stir or swirl in espresso. Add steamed milk.

Chocolate Covered Cherry

¾ oz Monin Cherry Syrup
½ oz Monin Vanilla Syrup
10 oz Steamed Milk
2 or 3 Shots of Espresso

Put syrup in 16 oz cup. Stir or swirl in espresso. Add steamed milk. Top with Chocolate Flavored homemade whipped cream. Make your own whipped cream flavored with Monin Dark Chocolate Sauce.

Sugar Free Huckleberry Pie Tea Latté

½ oz Da Vinci Sugar Free Huckleberry Syrup
½ oz Da Vinci Sugar Free Cookie Dough Syrup
1 Mighty Leaf Vanilla Bean Tea Pouch
Steamed Milk

Place tea bag in 16 oz cup. Steep in 4 oz of hot water for 2-4 minutes. Remove tea bag and stir in syrup. Top with steamed milk.

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