Is French Vanilla Coffee? Here’s the Full Scoop On This Delicious Beverage

is French vanilla coffee

Is French Vanilla coffee? With a rich, sweet, and creamy flavor, French Vanilla coffee adds a unique twist to a basic vanilla coffee beverage. Typically made from special vanilla bean pods or with French Vanilla and hazelnut, caramel, or butterscotch flavored syrup combined, French Vanilla coffee is an exquisite treat that’s sure to please.

French Vanilla Coffee is coffee combined with vanilla extract, creamer, or syrup to infuse it with a vanilla aftertaste that lingers like ice cream in your mouth. Despite the name, French Vanilla Coffee doesn’t originate in France. Instead, it’s a term for French-style ice cream that combined vanilla, cream, and egg whites to create a custard-type flavor that caught on to coffee marketing in the 1960s. 

Whether you order French Vanilla Coffee at Starbucks or want to mix up a batch at home, here’s everything you need to know about this lovely beverage.

Does French Vanilla Have Coffee? 

Yes, French Vanilla coffee contains coffee. On the other hand, French Vanilla creamer, designed to be poured into coffee, does not. 

French Vanilla coffee is infused with a medium or light coffee bean roast plus vanilla syrup. It gives you a flavorful coffee bursting with vanilla once it’s brewed.

With a rich, creamy, sweet taste that fuses coffee beans with vanilla beans, French Vanilla drinks are a popular beverage choice in the United States.

Is French Vanilla Tea or Coffee? 

Understandably, some people need clarification about French Vanilla’s status. While the Bigelow Tea brand does make French Vanilla tea, French Vanilla coffee is made from coffee beans and vanilla bean extract. 

Compared to classic vanilla-flavored coffee, French Vanilla is more decadent and has a sweeter profile. Hot or iced, it has a smooth vanilla taste and a captivating aroma. 

Where Did French Vanilla Coffee Come From?

Unlike its name, French Vanilla Coffee doesn’t come from France. Instead, it just takes its name from French-style ice cream created with a creamy vanilla custard base. But the Bourbon vanilla plants that produce French Vanilla flavor originate from the Réunion and Madagascar islands in the Indian Ocean, located off the southeast African coast.

With buttery, rich notes, French Vanilla coffee hails from a style of preparation that came to fame during the 1950s and 1960s at the height of the era’s television branding for commercial ice cream.

Rather than regular vanilla ice cream, the French blended cream with sugar, egg custard, and vanilla makes French Vanilla ice cream. French Vanilla coffee became a way to create and brand a new vanilla-flavored coffee without any eggs but with an American twist.

Does French Vanilla Taste Like Coffee?

Yes, French Vanilla coffee does taste like coffee. However, instead of regular strong coffee, it has a sweeter taste and creamier texture. But if you use French Vanilla syrup, extract, or powdered creamer for either coffee or black tea, these don’t contain coffee.

Some coffee companies sell coffee beans that are French Vanilla-flavored with Vanillin, a synthetically produced vanilla taste. Since coffee beans don’t naturally contain vanilla, the flavor is derived from natural vanilla beans or created with chemicals in a lab setting. Which is added to roasted coffee grounds, premixed coffee powders, or coffee pods.

How Strong is French Vanilla? 

A cup of French Vanilla coffee’s strength depends on the brand and how it’s prepared.

For example, an instant coffee drink might have 150mg of caffeine. In comparison, a small cup of Tim Hortons’ French Vanilla Coffee could have 6mg of caffeine in one fl. oz. with a 10-oz. cup packing a punch with 60mg of caffeine.

A store brand, French Vanilla Coffee K-Cup, might have anywhere from 100 to 140mg of caffeine. 

For example, a brand like Volcania French Vanilla is crafted from pure Arabica coffee. They offer fine, medium, and coarse ground coffee that produces a strong, high-end vanilla taste that lingers on the tongue.

This doesn’t mean that French Vanilla coffee is stronger than other automatic brews. For instance, it has a lower caffeine level than espresso since a cup of French Vanilla is diluted with cream and syrup.

Does French Vanilla Contain More Caffeine Than Regular Coffee?

No, French Vanilla Coffee doesn’t have more caffeine than your regular cup of joe. That’s because when you order a French Vanilla coffee, the barista makes it just like a regular latte, espresso shot, etc. Then, they add cream and syrup to create the signature drink.

Is There Caffeine in French Vanilla Creamer?

Compared to a cup of French Vanilla coffee, a vanilla-flavored creamer doesn’t have caffeine. The same goes for vanilla extract or French Vanilla syrup. It’s just flavoring.

Does a French Vanilla Latte Have Caffeine?

Yes, whether you order it at a coffee shop or brew it at home, a French Vanilla latte contains caffeine. Be sure to tell your barista to make your French Vanilla Latte a decaf if that’s what you want.

What is French Vanilla Syrup and Creamer?

The consistency is the big difference between French Vanilla syrup and French Vanilla creamer. Creamer is powdered or milk-like, while the syrup is pourable and easily stirred into coffee beverages.

What are the Ingredients in French Vanilla Creamer and Syrup?

Most French Vanilla syrup and creamers contain similar ingredients used to create the familiar intense, sweet vanilla flavor.

The exact ingredients can vary based on the brand, but powdered French Vanilla creamer often has water, palm oil, sugar, milk, carrageenan, Dipotassium Phosphate, Mono + diglycerides, Sodium citrate, sodium, salt, and artificial flavors. The syrup is a lot sweeter since it contains corn syrup, pure cane sugar, glycerin, water, potassium sorbate, citric acid, and caramel.

If we’re talking about Starbucks coffee, they have their own French Vanilla syrup that they can add to coffee, black tea, hot chocolate, or a milkshake. You can also get a sugar-free syrup to avoid extra sugar.

Suppose you prefer to avoid artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives. In that case, you can make your own syrup at home with sweet, condensed milk, milk, and vanilla extract in under 5 minutes.

Is There Sugar in French Vanilla?

With a rich, sweet flavor, there’s no doubt that French Vanilla coffee has a lot of sugar. The same goes for syrup or creamer unless you choose a sugar-free option. Since all chains make their coffee in different ways and may use different kinds of French Vanilla flavors, it’s always best to ask when you order if you’re looking for a sweeter or lower-sugar drink.

Does Fat-Free or Sugar-Free French Vanilla Exist?

For people who are on a fat-free lifestyle or prefer sugar-free creamers and syrups, there are several great French Vanilla flavor options.

Check out CoffeeMate’s French Vanilla Creamer, which has just 20 calories, and is fat-free, lactose, and dairy-free. They also do a zero-sugar creamer that’s triple-turned to make it twice as rich as milk while still boasting a lactose and gluten-free ingredients list.

CoffeeMate isn’t the only brand that offers a range of French Vanilla creamer options. Head over to International Delight to pick up their French Vanilla creamer singles that are perfect for easing into your morning.

 With a luxurious creamy sweetness, this creamer also has zero sugar. Finally, the Nestle brand produces a powdered coffee creamer that has exactly zero grams of monosaturated fat which can kick your day off to a healthier start.

Here’s How French Vanilla Compares to Other Drinks 

Compared to other popular caffeinated drinks, French Vanilla coffee measures up well. Since it’s full-bodied, fruitier, creamier, and brighter than regular coffee, beverages made with French Vanilla are going to taste richer and with extra layers compared to those made with a basic and plain vanilla extract.

French Vanilla vs. Iced or Hot Coffee

A French Vanilla will add a vanilla aftertaste to any cup of light or medium roast. Whether iced or hot, regular coffee feels plain compared to the upgraded French Vanilla brew.

French Vanilla vs. a Latte

A latte is just the base for a French Vanilla coffee without the syrup. It starts with an espresso shot drowned in steamed milk before it is topped off with French Vanilla syrup.

French Vanilla vs. a Vanilla Cappuccino

Across the pond or the border in Canada, the medium roast coffee filled with cream, sugar, and extra sweeteners is more like a pale, strong, and aromatic cappuccino.

French Vanilla vs. a Caffe Macchiato 

Unlike regular drip coffee, French Vanilla coffee has a concentrated liquid syrup that gives it its potent, lingering flavor and a pale, creamy brown color. As a result, it looks and tastes different from a macchiato, a dark espresso shot “stained” with a small splash of milk.

How to Make French Vanilla Coffee at Home

Now that you know what French Vanilla coffee is and where to order it, you can easily make a batch of it whenever you crave it in the comfort of your home. 

Take 1 cup of cold brew coffee. You can make this the night before to ensure that it’s chilled. Next, combine your favorite creamer with a one-eighth cup of vanilla syrup. Top it off with two cups of ice, and voila! You have a luscious, vanilla-flavored drink.

Suppose you’re out of creamer or want to make your own syrup. You can easily do this by heating water with three-quarters cup of brown sugar in a saucepan on medium-high heat over the stove. After it boils, bring it down to a simmer for 5 to 8 minutes before you stir in one tablespoon of natural vanilla extract.

Let it cool before you place ice in a glace or insulated tumbler. Then, pour the coffee over ice and add cream and the fresh vanilla syrup to your taste.

Do You Need Special Coffee Beans for French Vanilla?

You don’t need unique vanilla-flavored coffee beans to make French Vanilla coffee since you can achieve this flavor with creamer or syrup after you brew. However, it’s best to choose Arabica beans for French Vanilla coffee since they are less bitter and have lower acidity levels.

How to Make a French Vanilla Coffee Flavor

Making French Vanilla flavored coffee at home is simple, with just a few short steps. The good news is that you don’t have to buy vanilla beans from France, but you’ll want to get creamer, high-quality vanilla extract, or a vanilla pod. Using creamer is the easiest way to infuse your coffee with a French Vanilla flavor.

You can buy French Vanilla creamer from CoffeeMate or another brand at the store or online.

If you prefer to make your own, skip any artificial preservatives and ingredients. In that case, you can mix delicious ingredients such as milk, cream, sweet condensed milk, vanilla extract, and a French Vanilla pod to infuse your coffee with the delightful flavor. 

You can also use French Vanilla syrup or vanilla coffee beans to make the flavored coffee.

Use a higher creamer-to-coffee ratio if you want a more robust vanilla flavor. For example, if you have a cup of coffee, consider adding about a quarter cup of French Vanilla creamer to get the desired result.

Final Thoughts On “Is French Vanilla Coffee?”

French Vanilla flavored coffee adds a little bit of magic to any day.

You can order it at many coffee shops, including Starbucks, where you can get a taste of the creamy vanilla flavor that was all the craze in the 1960s and is still a hit today. It’s also an easy recipe to whip up at home with just a few ingredients.

Even better, this strong, sweet, caffeinated beverage doesn’t need a special coffee bean roast. Instead, add a dollop of creamer or a swirl of French Vanilla syrup to enjoy this decadent twist on a cup of coffee.

Christopher Mize
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