The Starbucks Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Brew (or VSCCB for those in the know) is one of the most delicious, perfectly sweet and creamy coffee drinks you can get from a drive thru.
The combination of sweet vanilla syrup, cream, and rich, nutty cold brew coffee is heavenly, crave-able, and historically my first choice when visiting any Starbucks.
For some strange reason, this drink is made very differently depending on the barista, or Starbucks location, or day.
The most inconsistent Starbucks drink of all time
So many times I’ve ordered my usual, then driven away only to realize that what I was given was either insanely sweet, insanely bitter, or (paradoxically) not sweet AT ALL. More than once I’ve driven away with something that was practically undrinkable.
Why Starbucks, why? My mom and I are such diehard VSCCB fans that after a trip where we both had bum cold brews (yet again), I found myself googling things like ‘why is my vanilla sweet cream cold brew not sweet’ or ‘vanilla sweet cream cold brew inconsistent’.
As much as we absolutely love this drink when it’s made well, it’s really pretty bad when you get one that’s not. My internet research quickly led me to discussions on Reddit that made me realize we were definitely not alone in our struggle.
Starbucks employees past and present discussed their frustrations with the drink and listed out many possible reasons why it is sometimes not very good: from the types of syrup pumps at different stores leading to wildly inconsistent levels of sweetness, to baristas neglecting to add water to the very robust cold brew concentrate.
I’m happy to say that most of the time, my current local Starbucks delivers a perfect Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Brew. But for those times when it seems like I just can’t get a good one, or I want one without ever leaving the house, there’s this perfect copycat recipe!
Step one: use Chameleon cold brew concentrate
I tried many different store-bought cold brew concentrates and found that the Chameleon brand had the best flavor and helps to reproduce a finished drink that is very similar to the Starbucks original (I think it’s actually better!)
Feel free to try this drink recipe with other brands, but if you do, make sure that you dilute the concentrate according to that brand’s instructions! They are all different – something else I learned the hard way.
Vanilla bean simple syrup is key
I tried many vanilla-flavored cold brew concentrates and I do not recommend one for this recipe. The flavored cold brews I tried had an undesirable artificial or chemically taste, even the all natural or organic ones.
So stick with real vanilla bean simple syrup for the best results. It’s easy to make. You won’t regret it.
Use cream, half and half, or whole milk
You can absolutely substitute with a dairy-free milk of your choice, but for the most heavenly sweet cream experience, I recommend using half and half. It’s the perfect level of creaminess without becoming too rich (like heavy cream), or feeling too watery (like 2% milk or almond milk).
Follow this recipe without substitutions and you’ll have a perfect vanilla sweet cream cold brew, no barista needed!
You might also enjoy my Peach Green Tea Lemonade, inspired by Starbucks, or my other Starbucks copycat recipes:
Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Brew (Starbucks Copycat) Recipe
- ½ cup Chameleon Cold Brew Concentrate (4 ounces)
- ¼ cup cold water (2 ounces)
- 2 tbsp half and half (1 ounce)
- 2 tbsp vanilla bean simple syrup (link below)
- Fill a tall glass with ice. Pour the cold brew concentrate, water, and syrup over the ice and stir well to combine.
- Add the cream and stir before enjoying.