The Story Behind the Coffee Milkshake


how to make the best instant coffee milkshake
The Waka Life Blog

The Story Behind the Coffee Milkshake

Need your coffee flavor but also in the mood for some ice cream? Why not have both with a coffee milkshake! Learn more about the delicious drink and its history.

The word "milkshake" was first found in print in 1885 and referred to a mix of an eggnog-like drink with whiskey. In the following century, milkshake lost its alcoholic component and included sweet syrups instead.  

Who invented the milkshake?

A few years later, with the invention of the fist drink mixer by Hamilton Beach Brands in 1911, the milkshake became also popular in food establishments. Using soda fountains instead of hand making the shakes created a different texture, which increase its popularity. However, only in 1922 when Steven Poplawski invented the blender, milkshakes began to be made in their whipped, modern form we all know nowadays.

In the 1940s and 1950s, sharing a milkshake became a gesture of intimacy and romance between a dating couple. Its iconic image became a must scene in any Hollywood movie of that time. A young couple with a fluted glass and a plastic straw sharing a cold milkshake with whipped cream and a cherry on top! However, milkshake is not only for lovers. In some movies milkshake played another comic role. For example, in Grease when Rizzo launching her shake at boyfriend Kenickie with the words “Finish this!”


Coffee and milkshakes

People love adding different syrups in their milkshakes: Strawberries, caramel, vanilla and more. Somewhere along the way, some creative minds decided to add a coffee syrup to their milkshakes as well. Marking a newly created milkshake with the flavor of coffee!

The surprising history of the milkshake

While no one knows the exact history of the drink in America, some link the coffee milkshake's popularity to the Italian immigrants in Rhode Island. 

"It's my understanding that the coffee syrup probably came first, owing to the large Italian immigrant population in the area... like a lot of Europeans, the Italians are absolutely crazy about their coffee." says Peter Kelly, a professor of culinary arts at Johnson and Wales University in an interview with NPR.  

In Rhode Island, the coffee milkshake is called "coffee cabinet" and made from coffee ice cream, coffee syrup, and milk. This Rhode Island's staple dates back to the World War II era, while some published references to the drink were found as early as 1903

If you want to celebrate the coffee milkshake beverage, mark your calendars on July 26th for the National Coffee Milkshake Day!

Coffee milkshake vs. iced coffee

the best coffee milkshake to make with instant coffee

In America, when you order an iced coffee you are given black coffee with ice cubes. After you place your order you are asked if you would like milk and sugar with your coffee, to which most people say yes. No mixing or blending are involved. In other parts of the globe, this is not quite the case. 

In other countries, like Israel and England when an iced coffee is ordered you will be given instead something that is more similar to a coffee milkshake. It will be made from crushed ice, cream, and coffee or a coffee flavored syrup. You can also think of it as a coffee slushy. To get what you actually want when traveling abroad, make sure you ask for "cold coffee" or be more specific with your descriptions.


decaffeinated instant coffee milkshake recipe

A decaf coffee milkshake is more than just coffee flavored ice cream. It brings together your childhood with your adult life. As children we weren’t allowed to order coffee at a restaurant but we could order a chocolate milkshake! Now, that you are adult and want to limit your caffeine intake, it's time to make your decaf shake.


  • 1 - 2 teaspoons of Waka Decaf Instant Coffee (or caffeinated if you prefer)
  • Sugar to taste (optional)
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 - 2 scoops of vanilla ice cream
  • Few ice cubes
  • Whipped cream (optional)
  • Chocolate/caramel/coffee syrup drizzle (optional)


  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender until creamy
  2. Pour into a tall glass or mug
  3. Add whipped cream if desired on top
  4. Drizzle with syrup
  5. Enjoy!

try our quality instant coffee options here.

Waka Coffee & Tea