Vanilla is often used as a term to describe something boring. In all actuality, vanilla is far from boring! A rich, deep vanilla flavor is something complex, unique, and highly sought-after. Vanilla flavorings are typically weak, without the presence of real vanilla, which is where the bad reputation comes from.
Many coffee chains offer vanilla iced lattes, which usually fall flat. There is something about ultra-sweet vanilla syrup that tastes nothing at all like real vanilla. Add it to coffee and the whole drink is thrown off balance because of an intense sweetness that is lacking in any additional flavor.
In this latte, the vanilla coffee syrup is not needed. There are so many highly-flavored vanilla ingredients in the baking aisle of the grocery store that you can use instead. There are two vanilla elements in this latte, and that is from unsweetened vanilla soy milk and also vanilla bean paste.
Vanilla bean paste is similar to vanilla extract. They are located right next to each other at the store, but vanilla bean paste is a thicker, more concentrated product. Actual vanilla beans are inside of the paste, so whatever you add it to will have flecks of the vanilla bean inside. You can use this interchangeably with vanilla extract in most recipes.
I love to see the vanilla bean flecks, especially in whipped cream. This recipe uses vegan whipped cream with vanilla bean paste folded in. This shows right off the bat that this is a vanilla-centered coffee drink without adding an overly sweet vanilla syrup. It also keeps the latte entirely vegan!
Because of the unsweetened soy milk, a sweet element is needed in this latte. Instead of white sugar, brown sugar is added for additional flavor. Brown sugar has molasses in it, so the molasses adds a smoky-sweetness to the coffee, which is inherently smoky as well.
If you prefer hot or iced lattes, this recipe can be tailored to either temperature. As written, the recipe is iced, but you can omit the ice and opt for less cool-down time for the coffee. This vanilla soy latte is amazing, no matter the temperature.
Any time you make an iced latte at home, be sure to use espresso. It is the only coffee strong enough to withstand all the vanilla soy milk and whipped cream. If you use regular-strength coffee, the vanilla flavor and milk will cover up the coffee and you will be left with a sweet milk drink. The sweet milk drink would be delicious, but it would not be a latte.
Serve this latte alongside your breakfast for the perfect way to start your day. It is a treat on a hot day to be able to make an iced coffee right from the comfort of your home. Enjoy it on your porch as the sun warms. When served hot, this latte is also perfect for an after-dinner drink to soothe a full belly and keep you awake until bedtime.
Start by brewing your espresso. You want strong coffee to hold up to all the creamy flavors, so make sure it’s strongly brewed.
To a tall cup, add your brown sugar. Once the coffee is brewed, pour it while hot over the sugar and stir to dissolve. Set aside to cool slightly or set in the fridge.
When cooled, add the unsweetened vanilla soy milk and ice to the sweetened cooled coffee. Stir together to incorporate the ingredients with a drink stirrer or a spoon.
In a bowl, fold the vegan whipped cream and vanilla bean paste together. You should see the little specs of vanilla bean showing through the cream.
Top the latte with the vanilla whipped cream and serve immediately with a straw.