This lavender simple syrup uses honey and vanilla beans to create a healthier coffee shop experience at home. This post is sponsored by Healthyish Foods, but all opinions and caffeine-induced ideas are my own.
When tax seasons comes around, my coffee spending usually smacks me in the face, and I realize how much I really do treat myself. I go to coffee shops for a place to work when I can’t face my home clutter, for meetings when I don’t want others to face my home clutter, and this time of year, for the air conditioning.
Above all, I go out for coffee so frequently because I want an exceptional caffeinated beverage. One of my favorite haunts makes their own house syrups, including a lavender simple syrup. It’s another reason why my coffee tab accumulates so quickly- those lavender flavored lattes are so unique and delicious!
I’m not the only regular at that coffee shop. At 4:49 on the dot, in comes B*, a man with intellectual disabilities who lives and works in the neighborhood. As soon as he opens the door, he starts saying hello to everyone. He continues to greet everyone as he makes his way to the counter, where he orders a root beer on ice (he emphatically does not like coffee).
With root beer bottle and ice glass in hand, B* sits down with a familiar face or sets about making a new friend. He’s pretty slick too. He always requests to share a table with the female patrons. Many pretend not to hear him, many answer him feebly and return their gazes to their laptops so as to fend him off “politely.” A few accept his offer and go with the flow.
Since my lavender simple syrup fix is as consistent as his root beer fix, I’ve become one of his regular table mates. We chat about his work day, his dinner adventures with his parents, what he likes to cook (chicken), and his bowling scores (both from his league and from his app). Every once in a while, he’ll ask me hopefully if I live alone and if I might want to see a movie, and he almost always asks me, “will you be here tomorrow?” And B* always remembers my name.
My conversations with B* have reminded me of two important realities:
- Nothing I’m working on is really that important. I’m often tempted to excuse myself from conversation because I’m too “busy,” but is that last email really so important that I can’t be a thoughtful human? No, it is not. What do I need to rush off to … to my phone? Of course not.
- We all need to interact more, converse more and meet people who are not like us. Why do people shy away from a well meaning, friendly person saying hello? I grew up on the East Coast with Midwesterners for parents. They waved at all passing cars. As a kid, this drove me bonkers. “DAD, we don’t know them!” My coffee habit and B*’s root beer habit have made me realize how fortunate I am that my talkative father could (and did!) really talk to everyone.
I’m not saying any of that to toot my own horn. I’m merely grateful this friendly soul has entered my life and reminded me in the simplest way to be a kinder human, to say hello, to converse. It’s a reminder I could afford to receive every day, which is convenient because I like to drink fancy coffees every day.
Although these lessons in kindness are much appreciated, I thought I should explore upping my home coffee game in the spirit of prudence (and potentially facing my clutter). This brave display of budgeting happened to coincide with lavender season on the farm, so the Urban Farmer, as requested, returned home with a bunch of the pretty smelling buds all for me. Sorry B*, but the Urban Farmer is just too much of a catch to let go.
Making lavender simple syrup at home meant I could include honey in the mix, whereas most coffee shops use cane sugar only. Honey provides more health benefits than your average sweetener, so this indulgence is practically a health elixir. This lavender simple syrup really ups the ante on home cocktail mixing too, so I can ditch coffee shops, ditch bars and stay at home forever, sipping in style, with my dog (hooray for hermit goals).
Typically, I’d stick to a splash of half & half or milk, or just drink my cold brew black, but when it comes to using this lavender simple syrup, I like to indulge even more. I combine the cold brew, lavender simple syrup and a little splash of organic heavy cream with ice, top the glass, then shake the mixture vigorously. The result is a creamy, nutty, floral iced coffee with a frothy top, and once you try it, it’s hard to go back to regular cold brew drinking.
While I had the lavender and lemon flavors on my brain, I decided to get fancy with my Tangy Lemon Healthyish Cakes. These cake mixes are the one of the very few cake mixes I will endorse because they’re organic, low in sugar and taste decadent. I also acknowledge not everyone wants to spend hours in the kitchen whipping up one of my desserts, especially in this heat, so Healthyish cakes are a sweet solution. A single lemon slice adds a tart flavor and pretty focal point, and dried, food-grade lavender buds makes these individually portioned cakes look and taste extra special. It’s a sweet treat that really completes an indulgent afternoon coffee break.
Simply stir a tablespoon or two of lavender buds into the cake mix. I used farm-fresh lavender buds, but you can also use a dried variety, which can often be easier to source. Once you pour the batter into the cake container included with your Healthyish baking kit, add the lemon slice and bake according to the instructions. While the honey’s out, drizzle the cakes with honey or even a bit of the lavender simple syrup before serving, or top with a dollop of organic vanilla bean ice cream to combat the heat.
I probably won’t curb my coffee shop habits anytime soon and will be sipping and chatting with B* before I run out of my lavender simple syrup. It’s still encouraging to know I have a way of imitating my favorite caffeinated beverages from home (now to source a coffee shop grade espresso machine for winter sipping!).
I hope your summer afternoons are cooler and sweeter with these ideas!
Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Healthyish Foods, but all opinions are my own. I only share what I like/use myself! Thanks for supporting the brands that support With The Grains.
Lavender Simple Syrup
1 cup filtered water
3 Tablespoons fresh or dried lavender flowers
1/2 cup organic raw cane sugar
1 cup honey
1 vanilla bean pod, sliced in half lengthwise
To make the syrup, bring 1 cup water, 1 Tablespoon of lavender buds and vanilla bean to a boil.
Add 1/2 cup sugar and 1 cup honey and stir until they have dissolved. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes before removing from the heat. Allow to cool, then strain and bottle.
The recipe makes a very sweet syrup and will yield just over 1 cup. If you would like to make more, simply double or triple all of the ingredients. Store in the refrigerator.
Lavender Iced Latte
serving size: 12 oz
6 oz cold brew coffee*
6 oz cold, filtered water*
1-2 Tablespoons lavender simple syrup
1-2 Tablespoons organic heavy cream
Combine ingredients in a mason jar or cocktail shaker with ice. Shake until cream is frothy. Serve on ice.
*Note: The cold brew and water ratios are based on the standard 1:1 ratio, but check your specific cold brew for serving ratios.
Lemon Lavender Healthyish Cakes
yield: one Healthyish cake
Add 1-2 Tablespoons to your Tangy Lemon Cake mix, depending on desired lavender flavor. Pour the batter into the container included with your kit. Top with an organic lemon slice, and bake according to the kit instructions.
Optional: Drizzle with honey or Lavender Simple Syrup