Buying the Cold Brew with Vanilla Sweet Cream from Starbucks regularly can be quite expensive, but it’s actually really easy to make at home! I’ll show you how!
I only have two go-to drinks during those select moments I visit Starbucks, and the Cold Brew with Vanilla Sweet Cream is one of them. But the frustrating thing is, they never seem to taste the same from one branch to another. The very first time I tried it was in the Glorietta 5 branch. That was where my love for this drink actually began. I don’t know if the baristas there just happen to be really good, but when I ordered this drink again in another branch, it tasted like watery coffee. Blech.
From that point on, I found out that this was a hit and miss drink. There were branches that could make it well, and there were branches that seemed to go loco with watering the drink down. Thanks to this experience though, I decided to look for a copycat recipe of Starbucks’ Cold Brew with Vanilla Sweet Cream. This way, I can make it on my own and get that perfect formula that suits my taste. And boy have I done it!
For me, the best thing that came out of my dissatisfaction over the inconsistency of Starbucks’ Cold Brew with Vanilla Sweet Cream is the fact that I learned how to make cold brew coffee. It is so ridiculously easy, I can no longer justify paying the premium price for store-bought cold brew. All you need to invest in is a good bag of coffee beans, and you can make as much cold brew as your heart desires! What’s so great about the brewing method for cold brew is that while it’s less acidic, the full flavor or body of the coffee comes through a bit more compared to normal hot brewing methods.
The most delicious and fragrant cold brew I have made so far was using Peet’s Coffee Major Dickason’s Blend. I’m all out of the beans now, but back when I was making cold brew out of this Peet’s Coffee blend, I used to open the lid just to sniff the cold brew lol. I swear it smelled SO GOOD and TASTED EVEN BETTER. Of course I’m not telling you that you need to buy this specific coffee in order to make good cold brew. You can stick with the brand and blend you already like, or do some trial and error. Believe me, I continue to try different coffee beans in hopes that I’ll find a local one to favor.
Anyway, the equation that has worked well for me when it comes to making cold brew is 1 part coffee to 4 parts water– 1 cup medium to coarse grind coffee to 4 cups of cool water. This typically makes a tasty enough cold brew. All you need to do is steep the grounds in the water for at least 12 hours, then strain the resulting cold brew concentrate. I use a damp coffee filter set over a fine mesh strainer to extract. Don’t really remember where I learned this trick, but it’s worked for me so far.
Remember that the coffee you get after the extraction is a CONCENTRATE. Drinking it alone will be a bit too strong, so you need to add some water. I personally like to drink my coffee a little strong, so I usually go for a 2/3 cold brew concentrate + 1/3 water combo. Sometimes I do 3/4 cold brew concentrate + 1/4 water if I’m really hankering for a coffee punch. You can really “build” this coffee to taste so the ratios are all up to you.
Now If you like to drink your coffee black like I usually do, you can stop after adding in the water, but it doesn’t hurt to sweeten it up every once in a while. That’s where the vanilla sweet cream comes in.
This sweetener is really just milk, condensed milk, and vanilla mixed together. In place of the milk, you can use heavy cream for a creamier and thicker drink. You can also use the usual half and half or go into 2% milk or soy milk territory if you want. Like I said, the advantage of making this at home is how you can adjust everything to preference. When I’m feeling like going “healthy” I always use 2% milk since I’ll be adding some sweetened condensed milk in anyway. Obviously, the amount of sweet cream you add into your drink is also up to you. It’s such a perfect pairing with cold brew!
These days, this homemade Cold Brew with Vanilla Sweet Cream is actually my go-to when I want just a touch of sweetness in my coffee. It doesn’t take that long to make, and you can store the cold brew and sweet cream in separate containers in the fridge to drink for the entire week. No more running to a Starbucks and worrying about whether I’m going to get a decent cup or a watered down version. (I mean no disrespect to Starbucks lovers, but this has been my experience!)
Copycat Starbucks Cold Brew with Vanilla Sweet Cream
For the cold brew
- 1 cup about 75 grams coarse or medium grind coffee
- 4 cups 960 mL room temperature or cold water
For the vanilla sweet cream
- 1 cup 240 mL heavy cream or milk or half-cream (according to your preference)
- 14 ounces one 390-gram can sweetened condensed milk
- 1 Tablespoon good-quality vanilla extract
Make the cold brew
- In a large pitcher, place the coffee beans and pour in the water. Give it a quick stir and cover. Let steep for 12 to 24 hours.
- Once the steeping period is over, use a cheesecloth or a lightly dampened coffee filter set over a mesh strainer to extract the cold brew. Pour the coffee into a new, clean container or pitcher. Refrigerate.
Make the sweet cream
- Whisk together the cream, condensed milk, and vanilla, until thoroughly blended.
Make the drink
- In a tall glass with some ice, portion about 2/3 cup of cold brew extract with 1/3 cup water. (This ratio can be adjusted according to taste.) Pour in the amount of sweet cream you wish to sweeten the drink. Mix well before drinking.