Coffee drink topped with ice cream, nuts, and chocolate chips
What Makes Rhode Island's Coffee Cabinet Drink Distinctive
Rhode Island is home to unique culinary lingo like "grindah," meaning a sub sandwich, "bubblah" for water fountain, and a curious-sounding drink known as a "coffee cabinet."
"Cabinet" is slang for milkshake, and a coffee cabinet is the state’s rich and creamy take on a coffee milkshake. This treat consists of coffee syrup, coffee ice cream, and milk.
In the 20th century, Rhode Island was home to a booming dairy industry and an influx of Italian immigrants who brought their culinary traditions, including their love of coffee.
The state also became home to industrial coffee syrup. These factors, combined with technological advances in fridges and freezers, led to the creation of the coffee cabinet.
Coffee syrup is a New England specialty made of thick, concentrated coffee, an equal amount of sugar, and a bit of vanilla extract. It's even easy to make yourself at home.
While you can make a coffee cabinet yourself, if you want the true New England milkshake experience, visit one of Rhode Island's few remaining old-school soda fountain shops.