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What is the best caramel sauce for coffee?

Coffee and caramel are a match made in heaven. The sweet, salty, buttery taste of caramel perfectly complements the bitter, robust flavor of coffee. Drizzling caramel sauce in your morning latte or afternoon iced coffee can take your drink from basic to gourmet in seconds. But not all caramel sauces are created equal when it comes to coffee flavor. The best caramel sauces for coffee are ones that truly enhance the coffee flavor rather than overpower it. When choosing a caramel for coffee, you’ll want to consider the sauce’s ingredients, consistency, sweetness level, and overall taste.

Why Does Caramel Go So Well with Coffee?

There are a few reasons why caramel and coffee pair so perfectly together:

  • Flavor contrast – As mentioned above, the sweetness of caramel balances out coffee’s natural bitterness. The saltiness also helps cut through the bitter notes.
  • Texture – Caramel’s smooth, velvety texture merges nicely with coffee rather than separating.
  • Caramelization – The caramelization process brings out nutty, toasted flavors that echo the complex notes in roasted coffee beans.
  • Familiar flavors – Coffee-flavored desserts like tiramisu often feature caramel, so we associate the two flavors.

When you get the right caramel sauce, everything comes together in perfect harmony for an indulgent coffee treat.

What to Look for in a Caramel Coffee Sauce

Here are the key factors to consider when choosing a caramel sauce for coffee:

1. Ingredients

All caramel sauces start with sugar, butter, and cream. But the specific types and ratios of each can significantly impact the flavor. Here are some things to look for:

  • Butter vs. margarine – Butter provides richer flavor than margarine or vegetable oils.
  • Full fat dairy – Heavy cream or whole milk create a richer, creamier sauce.
  • Minimal additives – Simple is often better. Avoid caramels with lots of thickeners, preservatives and artificial flavors.
  • Sea salt – A touch of sea salt balances out sweetness and enhances overall flavor.

2. Consistency

The ideal caramel for coffee should have a pourable yet viscous consistency – thin enough to drizzle but thick enough to remain evenly mixed. Here are some tips for identifying the right texture:

  • When you drizzle it, the caramel should coat the back of a spoon.
  • It should have a smooth, silky texture, not be sticky or grainy.
  • It shouldn’t be as thick as a sauce you’d use for dipping apple slices.

3. Sweetness

Caramel made specifically for coffee should not be overly sweet. It needs just enough sweetness to balance the coffee’s bitterness rather than overpower it. Look for caramels advertised as coffee sauces or flavors like salted vs. original. And beware of marketing lingo – a label that says “extra sweet” is probably too sweet for coffee.

4. Flavor Profile

Asides from optimal sweetness, the caramel’s overall flavor profile should complement coffee. Taste for these qualities before mixing it into your drink:

  • Nutty, slightly burnt notes
  • Hint of sea salt
  • Butter/cream richness
  • Absence of artificial or chemical tastes

A caramel made with high quality ingredients and the coffee drinker in mind will naturally have a well-balanced flavor.

Reviews of the Best Caramel Sauces for Coffee

Now that you know what to look for in the ideal coffee caramel, here are reviews of some top options:

1. Starbucks Caramel Flavored Sauce

Flavor: Robust brown sugar taste, buttery, vanilla notes

Sweetness: Just sweet enough to balance coffee bitterness

Consistency: Pourable but viscous sauce

Key Features: Made specifically for Starbucks drinks. Smooth, creamy, designed to mix well in coffee and espresso drinks.

Price: $4.95 for 13.4 oz bottle.

2. DaVinci Gourmet Salted Caramel Sauce

Flavor: Noticeable salt with sweet caramelized brown sugar taste

Sweetness: Low enough for coffee drinks

Consistency: Thick but still pourable

Key Features: All natural ingredients, including cream, butter, sugar and sea salt. Specifically formulated for iced coffees.

Price: $7.99 for 11 oz bottle

3. Torani Coffee Caramel Sauce

Flavor: Rich caramel with hint of coffee

Sweetness: Perfectly balanced for hot and iced coffee

Consistency: Thinner texture but still coats back of spoon well

Key Features: Made with coffee extract for complementary flavor. Dairy-free and gluten free.

Price: $4.29 for 11.5 oz squeeze bottle

4. Odell’s Caramel Sauce

Flavor: Creamy, buttery, rich

Sweetness: Just slightly sweetened

Consistency: Thick and scoopable – better for drizzling than stirring in

Key Features: Small batch caramel made with heavy cream, butter, sugar, and bourbon vanilla. Gluten-free.

Price: $8.99 for 7 oz jar

5. Java House Salted Caramel Coffee Sauce

Flavor: Sweet caramel with hint of salt

Sweetness: Just slightly sweet

Consistency: Thin, pourable texture

Key Features: Specifically designed for coffee, made with high quality ingredients.

Price: $5.99 for 11 oz squeeze bottle

Homemade Caramel Sauce for Coffee

You can also easily make your own custom caramel sauce at home. Here is a simple recipe:


  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Heat sugar and water in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook until it reaches a golden amber color, about 10 minutes.
  2. Remove from heat and slowly whisk in heavy cream and butter until smooth. The mixture may bubble rapidly.
  3. Whisk in sea salt and vanilla.
  4. Let cool slightly before using. Store leftover sauce in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

With this easy recipe, you can customize your caramel to be the perfect sweetness, saltiness and consistency for your morning coffee. Adding a teaspoon of instant coffee grounds will make it an even better match.

Tips for Using Caramel in Coffee Drinks

Once you’ve selected the perfect caramel sauce, here are some tips for using it to create delicious coffee drinks:

Hot Coffees:

  • Stir 1-2 tablespoons of caramel into your hot freshly brewed coffee until combined.
  • Top coffee drinks like lattes and cappuccinos with drizzled caramel sauce.
  • For extra flavor, add a dash of salt on top of the caramel.

Iced/Frozen Coffees:

  • Blend caramel sauce into iced coffees for smooth, creamy texture.
  • Layer caramel and coffee in parfaits, alternating with ice cream.
  • Coat the inside rim of glasses with caramel before adding iced coffee.
  • Drizzle caramel over cold brew coffee over ice.

Coffee Desserts:

  • Swirl caramel into coffee granitas or milkshakes.
  • Fill cream puffs or eclairs with coffee flavored whipped cream and caramel.
  • Make caramel coffee popsicles by layering brewed coffee and caramel in molds.

Let your creativity run wild! Caramel sauce can elevate basic coffee drinks into irresistible treats.


Finding the perfect caramel to mix with your coffee may take some trial and error. But when you discover that ideal blend of sweet, salty, buttery flavors, it transforms an everyday cup of joe into an indulgent coffeehouse treat. Whether you opt for a pre-made sauce designed specifically for coffee or whip up your own homemade creation, a swirl of caramel is a surefire way to enhance any hot, iced or frozen coffee beverage.