Several flavors of coffee drinks

Few things are more personal than how you take your coffee. From the unicorn Frappuccino fans to the black coffee purists, asking anyone about the best way to make coffee is sure to attract some seriously strong opinions. So, how do we find out what coffee flavors are the best? While true objectivity seems like it could be an impossible feat, we’ve searched the internet high and low for opinions in an attempt to get as close to truth as possible. We also used our own well-informed (read: biased) tastebuds, but perhaps that’s beside the point.

As far as popular syrup flavors, we have seemingly everything from fruity tastes, to nutty ones, to classics, and everything in between. We’ll discuss combinations, too, along with supposedly higher class varieties and whether they’re worth the hype. So, whether you’re team mocha or a pumpkin spice latte superfan, find out where some of your favorite coffee syrups rank from worst to best.

14. Raspberry

Raspberry Torani syrup

When it comes to coffee, raspberry is one of those flavors that makes most people cringe. Fruit and coffee is a hard combo to nail, and raspberry just doesn’t seem to be the one to pick if you’re making exceptions. For starters, raspberry flavoring has a reputation for tasting like chemicals.

Even if you can get past the synthetic taste, one Reddit user pointed out another reason to skip this syrup: "My only no-no is fruit (juice/flesh) with coffee. To me, the different acids clash and leave a horrible feeling in my mouth." Raspberries can be incredibly tart, so adding them to an already acidic beverage could be a recipe for disaster (or, at least, a bad-tasting cup of coffee).

We would venture a guess that those who love raspberry coffee are drinking beverages on the milkier side, like lattes or frappuccinos, where the fats in the milk would help balance out the tartness of the coffee and the berries. Raspberry syrup is one of Torani’s best sellers, after all, and it makes this list because of its proven popularity. However, many reviews on Torani’s website relegate the use of this syrup to teas and Italian cream sodas. The coffee devotees of this stuff are fewer and further between. Although raspberry can be a naturally-occurring flavor note in coffee (as in, the flavor comes from the bean itself instead of an additive), these flavors are best when they are subtle. If we were you, we’d avoid raspberry syrup.

13. Peppermint

Torani peppermint syrup

Peppermint mochas and hot chocolates are just some of those telltale signs of the holiday season. The hot and cold from warm chocolate and nippy mint are perfectly suited for the weather, and the act of ordering one just feels festive. So why is peppermint syrup so near the bottom of this list? That’s because, while peppermint mochas are one of winter’s most delectable treats, regular peppermint coffee just doesn’t have the same effect. In fact, who really orders plain peppermint coffee? As much as we love peppermint mochas, it feels silly to give high marks to a syrup with so few applications.

Although there is a little buzz on the internet about peppermint coffee, many warn that the flavor of the syrup is too thin by itself, and some Redditors maintain that vanilla is an essential addition to any ‘plain’ peppermint coffee. Some angry customers have even taken to the Amazon listing for Torani peppermint syrup, brutally calling it "unflavored cloudy water" and lambasting it for having a weak flavor overall. While peppermint syrup is not a totally useless purchase, you might leave it tucked away behind more versatile flavors for the majority of the year. Perhaps your money is better spent elsewhere.

12. Coconut

Monin coconut syrup

Here’s the thing about coconut: when it’s good, it’s good. But when it’s bad, it’s usually really bad. Artificial coconut syrup can quickly take over a drink — add too much and you’ll have trouble tasting anything else. Additionally, it’s often got the reputation for tasking more like synthetic additions than the real thing. There are definitely coconut syrups out there that don’t taste fake, but it can be hard to know what to look for or how to tell without purchasing a whole bottle.

Honestly, if you want coconut coffee, try putting coconut milk in your drink instead. It does what coconut syrup can’t by adding a subtle taste without overwhelming every other flavor. If you are intent on purchasing a syrup for your at-home bar, we’d advise you to do your research. Reviewers have done a good job of marking some brands as very synthetic while sharing that others taste rather more fresh, fruity, and like the real deal. If you’re still insistent that coconut syrup has its place in your coffee, just make sure to read the reviews carefully before you buy anything.

11. Cinnamon

Torani cinnamon syrup

Cinnamon is a classic flavor that’s popular for a reason. It undoubtedly goes well in coffee, given that it has a familiar, nostalgic taste that adds a subtle warmth to your morning brew. But that’s just the thing — it’s not that noticeable. Adding a little cinnamon syrup to your coffee makes it taste different, sure, but only slightly. It’s really nothing special. In fact, when you think of a delicious cinnamon coffee, you are probably remembering all the other flavors that are typically added to boost up the cinnamon flavor, like cloves and orange in cafe de olla or brown sugar in a cinnamon dolce latte.

Even worse, cinnamon can go wrong very quickly. While it is subtle when used sparingly, the threshold for error is surprisingly low here. But add one too many pumps of this stuff and your coffee will begin to taste more like a crazy night of Fireball than a calm and cozy morning.

In conclusion, we would rank cinnamon as fine to bad, depending on the brand and how you use it. At its best, It’s not that interesting and you can do better. Think outside the box, people!

10. Almond

Monin almond syrup

Ah, almond. The unofficial flavor of the old guard. Unfortunately for the good ol’ almond, its use in traditional desserts in many cultures — from Southern wedding cakes to Mexican mazapán — lends many to associate it with bygone generations. All biases aside, its nutty taste and lightly floral aroma can add a wonderfully light touch to coffee. Note here, dear reader, that "light" is the operative word. Almond is certainly a delicious flavor, but it’s almost more of an aroma than a taste. Think of it like a pleasant afterthought, or a warm, nutty waft in a passing breeze.

Like the peppermint syrup, several reviewers on Torani’s website report mixing the almond flavor with cherry (to make amaretto) or coconut (for a tropical concoction) rather than strictly using it alone. Additionally, most recipes you find out there make so-called "almond lattes" with the help of vanilla syrup. In conclusion, if you are thinking of making an almond latte, just know that there are far more interesting options out there. Should you have other flavors in your at-home setup that you think would pair nicely, then by all means go ahead and buy the almond syrup! No one’s stopping you. If not, it might be best to leave this rather humdrum one out of your collection.

9. White chocolate

Ghirardelli white chocolate syrup

Buttery, creamy, and sweet, white chocolate is a great companion to your morning coffee. If you’re looking for rich, white chocolate is the way to go — sometimes it feels like a socially acceptable way to put butter in your coffee, but, like, in an awesome way that won’t earn you sideways glances. After all, the Cleveland Clinic notes that white chocolate can have more than twice the amount of cocoa butter than standard-issue chocolate, plus more sugar. That’s probably why it’s so delicious.

However, as much as its fat content provides a rich taste (remember, fat is a flavor!), we have to admit that there’s not much more to it than that. White chocolate’s lack of real flavor has led some people to consider white chocolate as both milk and dark chocolate’s lamest cousin. Some people even argue that it shouldn’t be called chocolate at all, though perhaps they just need a better example of the sweet. So, while white tastes pretty decent to most, its polarizing effect prevents it from ranking higher on this list.

8. Hazelnut

Da Vinci hazelnut syrup

We can’t help but wonder: how different is hazelnut, really, from its close relative, almond? We’re really only ranking it this high to people please, but to be honest, it’s nowhere near our favorite of the bunch. While the nutty bite it adds can be tasty, it can also come off as overtly chemical in the wrong hands and even a bit overwhelming. What’s more, JavaPresse argues that hazelnut flavoring is often added to low-quality coffee beans to mask their inferior flavor. So, even though you may add a perfectly good hazelnut syrup to a nice cup of coffee, it will always have that cheap and synthetic connotation.

That said, we aren’t trying to say that hazelnut syrup is all bad. It can even be good! But really, it’s just good. It at least packs more of a punch than almond syrup, but at the end of the day, it remains nothing special. We just wouldn’t feel right ranking it above syrups whose tastes are adding something truly impressive to the cup of coffee.

Additionally, buyers should beware, as the better version of Torani’s hazelnut syrup — that would be the classic hazelnut — has almost the same name as their inferior version, simply called "hazelnut." This creates shipping mixups and leaves some seriously unsatisfied customers.

7. Simple syrup

Monin pure cane simple syrup

Okay, fine! We know that plain simple syrup isn’t an actual flavor, per se, but hear us out. Plain old no-nonsense sugar water can be a great addition to your coffee repertoire. For one, it doesn’t intrude at all on the flavor of your brew, so you can still impress your pretentious coffeehound friends by listing all the tasting notes while still getting a hit of sweetness. Secondly, it’s wildly unoffensive. Who can disagree with something that tastes like nothing? Plain simple syrup is a great choice to stock if you want to crowd please, and equally handy to order at a coffee shop for an office coffee run.

Basically, ol’ reliable is here as a benchmark. Anything above it is very good and should definitely be given a chance, while anything below it has enough haters to make you seriously question its integrity. It’s the perfect neutral, the Switzerland of coffee syrups — and not a bad thing to keep in your cupboard or even make yourself.

6. Pumpkin spice

Torani puremade pumpkin spice syrup

Now, you might be thinking, "but wait, plenty of people don’t like pumpkin spice! Why is it above the simple syrup benchmark of neutrality??" Honestly, the answer to this might cause a debate in itself, but here’s our hot take: anyone who says they don’t like pumpkin spice is kidding themselves. It’s delicious!

This type of syrup is wonderfully warm from the spices, rich and buttery from the pumpkin, and delectably sweet. It’s like cinnamon syrup’s older, more successful sibling. PSLs have a "basic" reputation, but one sip of this divine autumnal creation and your biases will fly right out the window (at least if you’re allowing yourself to be brutally honest).

However, we are ruled by the whims of the people, so the haters prevent pumpkin spice syrup from landing any higher on this list. Its seriously seasonal feel also makes it less versatile than other syrups, giving it another knock. But at the end of the day, pumpkin spice syrup goes great with a wide variety of coffee drinks. It’s something we recommend stocking in your collection any time of year.

5. Lavender

Monin lavender syrup

Although it may not come immediately to mind, lavender syrup goes wonderfully with coffee. Consumers have corroborated this time and time again, submitting rave reviews across different brands of this flavor: a Monin customer noted "lavender syrup can be VERY addictive," and one 1883 Maison Routin reviewer said they "can’t have coffee without it now […] This is my all time favorite coffee additive and I would have never expected it." The light, floral, almost fruity flavor of lavender goes well with both black coffee and coffee with cream, making it as versatile as it is unexpected.

The only drawback to lavender is the things people associate it with. Several disappointed reviewers described it tasting like "hand soap" or, even worse, "baby diaper rash cream." This popular syrup definitely falls victim to its connotations, from old ladies to hippie lotions. Because of people’s extreme reactions to these associations, lavender receives a few demerits, especially if you’ve got a heavy syrup-pouring hand. However, don’t let that stop you from trying something that plenty of people can’t live without. You could very well be surprised.

4. Caramel

Monin salted caramel syrup

Caramel adds a luscious richness to coffee that is hard to beat. Its creamy, buttery flavor overrides any lingering bitterness in the brew, leaving you with a drink that goes down smooth. Enjoying a caramel coffee is like scratching an itch in the deepest part of your brain: it’s salty, fatty, sweet, and perfectly catered to your biological preferences – seriously, even a prestigious scientific publication like Nature agrees with us.

This browned sugar concoction helps to bring out the flavors of roasted coffee beans, many of which have rich caramel notes as part of their flavor profile (via SAYS). Plus, caramel syrup isn’t just good on coffee. With this flavor in your cabinet, you’ll always have something to drizzle over your desserts, too. It’s clearly a win-win!

If you like cream in your coffee, try reaching for salted caramel syrup. The salt mixes with the milk fats to create a surprisingly delicious flavor combo, a la Taiwanese sea salt cream coffee. If you prefer your decadence in the classic American style, Torani’s bestselling classic caramel will do the trick. Either way, know that you’re walking into something good.

3. Rose

Monin rose syrup

An unexpected favorite, rose syrup is one of coffee’s best complimentary flavors. Rose’s sweet floral aroma adds a wonderful aftertaste to coffee without intruding too much on the flavor of the brew. It can even help call attention to more subtle flavors in your coffee beans, drawing out notes you may not have noticed otherwise. As an added bonus, it tastes great in anything from a dark roast black coffee to a latte with blonde espresso, so you don’t have to stray too far from your usual to get a piece of the action.

In short, we love rose because it’s somehow both subtle and the star of the show. Drinking a rose coffee means savoring every bean-laden sip while finding yourself craving that floral aftertaste. If you want to have something you know will be good, but are looking to expand your palette beyond the classic flavors, we highly recommend rose syrup.

2. Vanilla

Monin vanilla syrup

Chances are good that, if you aren’t drinking a caramel latte, you’re getting vanilla. This syrup variety is available at most coffee shops, which makes it a great starter flavor for those new to the coffee world. However, its delicious taste makes fans out of even the pickiest drinkers. Vanilla flavored things tend to have the connotation of being, well, vanilla. Yet a well-made vanilla syrup can take any coffee beverage to new heights.

If you feel like splurging on higher-quality syrups, vanilla is the time to do so. The difference between an artificial vanilla flavor and that of an actual vanilla bean is astounding. Real vanilla beans are floral, rich, and sweet, and they complement creamy coffee beverages nicely. Monin’s Vanilla from their organic line is a great option, as well as Sonoma Syrup Co’s "dark and rich" vanilla bean syrup. While you can’t go wrong with even the cheaper vanilla coffee syrups, spending just a few more dollars can take your drink from average to amazing.

1. Chocolate

Ghirardelli chocolate syrup

Chocolate and coffee is the superlative beverage combination, hands down. A favorite since its invention in the 1700s, according to Sprudge, the combination of sweet chocolate and earthy roasted coffee beans known as the mocha has stood the test of time. Chocolate itself is a very common flavor note in coffee beans, making it a natural partner to a variety of different roasts and origins. Perhaps that’s why even the most pretentious specialty coffee shops even keep mochas on their menu — they’re that good! It’s no wonder mochas are one of the most-ordered coffee shop drinks, with analysts estimating that 70% of coffee shop customers have purchased a mocha (via Sprudge).

This is another flavor that benefits from higher-quality syrups, although it’s hard to argue with that classic chocolate milk effect from the less expensive ones. The Ghiradelli chocolate syrup line is a great in-between option, offering premium chocolate flavor that won’t break the bank. Stocking chocolate syrup in your at-home coffee bar is sure to please even the pickiest of coffee lovers, and we couldn’t recommend it more.