WTF Is Coffee Milk And Why Does Rhode Island Love It So Much?
It is the official state drink, after all.
New York has hot dogs, Chicago has deep-dish pizza and Rhode Island has… coffee milk? This little-known beverage is fairly ubiquitous in the (admittedly small) state of Rhode Island, but unlike the tourist frenzy surrounding a cheesy pie, tourists aren’t flooding to the state to sip on coffee milk. In fact, only native Rhode Islanders really know about it. So, what is it and why has it created such a cult following?
Coffee milk is straightforward enough—it’s like pouring milk into your coffee until your smart-ass friend says “Want some coffee with that milk?” It tastes like “somebody melted coffee ice cream and served it to you room temperature,” one reviewer described.
It’s made by combining milk and specially made Coffee Syrup, which can be bought in any Rhode Island grocery store — there are even some fairly fierce brand loyalties between the more popular Autocrat ‘big brand’ and smaller artisanal ones like Dave’s.
This magical syrup is made after cold brewing coffee, combining with sugar and boiling down to the thick syrup sold in stores. This syrup is then stirred into a glass of milk in varied proportions, but fairly commonly 1 part syrup to 4 parts milk.
Rhode Island traces coffee milk’s inception back to its ethnic roots — in the early 20th Century, Italians brought a love for strong, milky coffee to the state. As the trend grew, coffee syrup was produced commercially—starting in the early 1920s—and it can still be found in any Rhode Island grocery store today. But if you can’t make it out to the Ocean/Coffee Milk state for the local favorite, you can always just visit Amazon.