If there is one thing which can be said about Dunkin Donuts, it would be that they have one of the very best cups of coffee served in restaurants today. Their house blend is just strong enough to have that kick you should get from a good cup of coffee yet mild enough not to be overly acidic and bitter. The company itself has a long history, almost 75 years of experience, and donuts are only half of what made Dunkin’ Donuts the huge conglomerate of global franchises they are today.
Knowing that, you might be asking what in the world is a Charli, and furthermore, who is Charli? Is there a Charli? Or is it just a cute name for a new coffee drink created by Dunkin’ like so many coffee drinks, hot and cold, they’ve served over the years. The story is actually quite interesting and to give you the short answer, yes, there is a Charli and no, it’s not really a coffee drink Dunkin’ created. It’s Charli’s favorite coffee drink! So, let’s start there. Exactly who is Charli?
A Star Is Born
Every now and again you hear of a relatively unknown person rising to stellar fame via social media. Charli D’Amelio is one such person. It seemed like overnight she was proclaimed the Queen of TikTok by the New York Times and from there, the rest is history. However, as with any rising star, there is always going to be a certain amount of curiosity and so it is with “the Charli,” Dunkin Donuts Charli drink.
For just a moment, let’s step back to remember that not all adults are in tune with TikTok. While it is one of the most popular social media platforms today, many of Dunkin Donuts patrons prefer platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn. However, as a young influencer, a rising star named Charli D’Amelio gained an impressive audience of over a million followers, and it was her love of Dunkin coffee that gained her corporate attention.
Here is where it is so important! Imagine a 16-year-old vlogger being such a strong Dunkin’ influencer? She wasn’t paid to do it and had no ulterior motive in those early days other than to talk about her favorite cold brew coffee that she would buy every day. Having gained the attention of Dunkin Donuts, the company named her drink after her with her approval and “the Charli” became one of their hottest selling menu items.
It’s not hard to imagine how the Charli D’Amelio Dunkin order became an instant hit among her followers. It was her beverage of choice every day and something her fanbase soon began to love, and what’s not to love about the Charli?
What Exactly Is the Charli?
Let’s begin at the beginning, shall we? The first thing that should be said is that this is a coffee drink that the TikTok star ordered to go literally every time she visited Dunkin Donuts. The drink, although said to be available for a limited time, is actually available every day of the year because the ingredients are Dunkin’ staples. The drink consists of:
- Medium cold brew coffee
- Whole milk
- Three pumps of Caramel Swirl
So then, is the Charli still at Dunkin? The thing to do if you are asking this question is to simply check the menu. If it isn’t available, the ingredient list above will be, so that’s how you order it! Ask for a medium cold brew coffee with whole milk and then three pumps of their famous Dunkin Caramel Swirl. It really is just that simple and if the employee has been there any length of time, they will know what you want if you just ask for the Charli.
Good Just Got Better!
At Dunkin Donuts the Charli became so successful that when Charli began asking for something a bit different, another menu item was born. The Charli drink Dunkin began offering was another cold brew coffee drink but this one differed in that it had a huge mountain of foam to top it off. The newest Charli Dunkin drink is called The Charli Cold Foam which, by the description, you can see why. It’s that large layer of foamed milk topping it off and so it was christened The Charli Cold Foam.
When paired with whole milk and Caramel Swirl, the combination gives new meaning to Iced Coffee. At this point, let’s step aside for just a moment to look back at those early days when a young TikTok star became instrumental in a totally unplanned marketing campaign all because of her love for Dunkin’s cold brew coffee with a few shots of delicious caramel flavor.
In those early days as the excitement about the Charli gained momentum and then another Charli drink hit the menu, a new interest took hold and that was about their flavor shots and flavor swirls. Even though many diehard Dunkin’ patrons knew about these delicious flavors, and some even used them in their daily coffee, the difference didn’t seem to hit home until the birth of the Charli drink Dunkin Donuts was so proud to serve. We’ll talk more about Dunkin’s signature flavor shots and flavor swirls in just a moment but for now, let’s look a little closer at this amazing young TikTok star that brought Dunkin’ back into focus as an American icon in the coffee industry.
A Word About the Girl Who Made Dunkin’ History
The Charli Dunkin Donuts drink not only made the headlines but also was instrumental in giving Charli D’Amelio the wherewithal to make a rather large contribution to her local community during the initial days of the Covid-19 pandemic. As a TikTok celeb with a huge following, it was understandable that she should monetize her social accounts. The result of all that fame and her extreme love of Dunkin’ coffee brought in a revenue stream that she was more than willing to share.
With the business acumen to launch a highly successful TikTok channel that landed over 123 million subscribers within a very short time of launching it, this young girl became a force to be reckoned with. The Charli drink Dunkin Donuts promoted also led to an increase in Charli’s net worth of which she donated $50,000 during the pandemic when supplies were difficult to get. The money was given to her community hospital get many of those much-needed supplies. Not only is she a young entrepreneur but Charli is also a philanthropist.
Can You Make the Charli D’Amelio Coffee at Home?
When told that the Charli coffee drinks are available for a limited time only, many patrons want to know if they can begin making them at home. Are they able to get the ingredients needed to duplicate the Charli Dunkin order?
Sadly, at this time only Dunkin Donuts coffee is available for home use. You can find it in any Walmart Supercenter and other large chains stock Dunkin coffee as well - whether you are looking for their original house blend or perhaps their decaffeinated coffee or the newer Rainforest Alliance Certified Dark Roast Coffee, which has been available in Dunkin shops as well as in many supermarkets for about 8 years now. While that may not sound new, when you are looking at a company that has been in existence for almost three-quarters of a century, that’s relatively new!
One of the things which Dunkin’ explains is that this particular dark roast coffee is not going to have that bitter taste prevalent in most dark roasts. It’s in the processing and roasting that makes the difference, and this is one dark roast set apart from those traditionally roasted to that rich, dark color. So, it isn’t the coffee beans, whole or ground, lightly roasted or darkly roasted that prevents you from making the Charli D’Amelio Dunkin Donuts drink at home, so what is it?
Dunkin’ Signature Swirls and Flavor Shots
Unlike other coffee brands, Dunkin’ hasn’t launched commercial sales of their signature swirls and flavor shots. These are proprietary products you will not find in stores today and there is no mention of them ever being made available in the future. With that said, things can change overnight, but for the time being, the only way you will get the Charli coffee Dunkin Donuts sells is in shops.
As for the Caramel Swirl used in the original Charli, that is just one of a few available at Dunkin’ Donuts. Dunkin’ Swirls are available in flavors that include:
- French vanilla
While you ‘might’ want to use a generic flavor to try to duplicate the Charli Cold Foam, it would probably never be the same. Even if Dunkin sold flavor shots separately, they aren’t needed for either Charli coffee drink, so the taste just wouldn’t be right. This is where the difference between Dunkin’s flavor shots and flavor swirls should be better explained.
Understanding the Difference Between Flavor Shots and Flavor Swirls
As mentioned above, Dunkin’ flavor swirls come in French vanilla, caramel, hazelnut and mocha. The Charli Dunkin order uses three shots of the caramel flavor swirl which has both sugar and dairy products. That is the main difference between flavor shots and flavor swirls. Flavor shots are sugar and dairy free, so they are often preferred by anyone counting calories or allergic to dairy products. In fact, flavor shots make it possible for diabetics to enjoy a flavored cup of Dunkin coffee without worrying about what it will do to their insulin levels.
Interestingly, Dunkin’s flavor shots are available in a greater number of flavors which include the classics like:
- Toasted almond
But the seasonal flavors such as Butter Pecan and Peppermint Mocha are going to be flavor swirls, both with sugar and dairy. In either case, there is something for everyone when it comes to adding that extra burst of flavor but remember, you can only get flavor shots and flavor swirls in Dunkin restaurants.
How Much Does It Cost for a Charli D’Amelio Coffee Order?
This is something which is often asked and is all but impossible to answer. The reason for that is in understanding the corporate structure of Dunkin’. Many people don’t know that Dunkin’ Donuts, or simply Dunkin’ today, are 100% franchised stores. There are no company stores and as part of the franchise agreement, each individual store is free to set their own pricing schemes. Therefore, if you are asking “How much is a large Charli at Dunkin?” there is no reliable answer. What you pay in Los Angeles could be considerably different than you’d pay in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
The real question should be, how much is a small Charli at Dunkin, or how much is a large Charli at Dunkin worth to you? For anyone who has made it their priority to grab that delicious iced coffee at Dunkin whenever they pass through, the answer would be much the same. Charli and Dunkin’ have created the most amazing cold beverage that is literally invaluable.
A Closer Look at the Cold Brew Process
Now that we’ve spoken extensively about the flavor swirls that make the Charli D’Amelio Dunkin Donuts order as unique as it is, a word or two on the cold brew process should be mentioned. Unlike traditional methods of brewing iced coffee, Dunkin’ uses a process that is done in small batches over a period of 12 hours for the rich, sweeter than normal flavor you experience whenever you order the Charli.
That sweeter, less acidic flavor you are experiencing is due to the fact that no heat is introduced during the brewing process. A special blend of Dunkin’ ground beans is steeped for a period no less than 12 hours which is what gives Dunkin’s cold brew coffees their distinctive flavor. The result of cold brewing coffee is a flavor that is smoother, richer and intrinsically sweeter than traditionally brewed coffee.
When brewing with heat, the coffee would need to be brought at least to room temperature before adding ice to chill it and that would dilute the flavor to a great degree. Some restaurants, in an effort to speed things up, prepare their iced coffee in a pot the same as when brewing for hot coffee but then allowing it to chill prior to serving. That, in a nutshell, accounts for the differences in flavor and why Dunkin’ has literally owned the market for cold brew coffee drinks.
What Is All the Hype About Dunkin’s Sweet Cold Foam?
In order to understand why the Charli drink Dunkin Donuts has that amazingly unique, yet recognizable flavor, it’s important to understand just what that ‘sweet cold foam’ is all about. Perhaps it would be best to compare Sweet Cold Foam of Dunkin to foamed milk on a latte or cappuccino drink. Neither of those would be sweet to the taste but Dunkin’s Sweet Cold Foam is with top notes of vanilla in the mix. The difference is probably best understood in the name which includes the word ‘sweet.’
One thing that wasn’t mentioned above is that cold brewing coffee not only provides a smoother flavor but one that is similar to chocolate. Now then, when Sweet Cold Foam tops a cold brew coffee the end result is truly amazing. You’ll get a wonderful blend of chocolate and vanilla facing flavors in just the right amount to yield the perfect coffee drink.
So then, what is all the hype about Dunkin’s Sweet Cold Foam? The answer is simply that it’s sweet! If you haven’t tried a cup of Dunkin’s cold brewed coffee, you are in for a real treat. It’s going to be an experience in flavor you never imagined, and here again, something that sets Dunkin’ Donuts apart from all would-be competitors in the coffee arena.
One More Look at the Differences in Charli Coffee Drinks
At this point, so many people begin asking what the difference is between The Charli and The Charli Cold Foam coffee drinks. Since both begin with Dunkin’s signature method of brewing small batches of coffee in cold water over a 12-hour period, shouldn’t the flavors be the same?
Actually, it’s not the brewing process that accounts for the flavor differences between the Charli and the Charli Cold Foam coffee drinks. The main flavor differences are in the flavor swirls and Sweet Cold Foam. Both are sweetened but first-time tasters of Sweet Cold Foam are simply unprepared for that hint of sweetness when tasting the foam for the first time. It isn’t an overwhelming, slap in the face, sweetness but just that hint that is intriguing enough to urge another sip and another and another.
However, there are some points of intersection as well. Both Charli coffee drinks are available in small, medium and large sizes. You can request extra or fewer flavor swirl pumps with either drink and as mentioned, both begin with a cold brew coffee base and its inherent chocolate notes.
What Is the Reason Dunkin’ Doesn’t Commercially Sell Flavors?
So many consumers want to know why Dunkin’ doesn’t sell their flavor swirls or flavor shots in stores like they do with the brand’s signature beans. That information may never be known but the one thing the ‘not knowing’ is doing would be to keep interest high. Doesn’t everyone love a good mystery? Perhaps that’s why they are not selling those iconic flavor shots and flavor swirls. Could it be a marketing strategy to generate interest and keep that interest high while consumers continue to seek answers to the question?
On the other hand, doesn’t every brand have the right to keep proprietary information about their most popular products in-house? It would be like selling intellectual information to the competitors and that would be akin to corporate death in many cases. If flavor shots and flavor swirls are unique creations of the Dunkin’ team, why should they be sold commercially? Until such a time as when Dunkin’ decides to release these two product categories for sale in stores or online, the conversation continues as does interest in what makes them as special as they are known to be. Billions of satisfied customers can attest to that!
A Few Hacks You Might Try
While there is no way to actually duplicate the taste of the Charli or the Charlie Cold Foam drinks at home, you could try a hack or two. The one thing you can get right is to begin with a cold brew coffee steeped for at least 12 hours using a Dunkin blend of ground beans which are sold in stores and in some Dunkin franchise locations. Unfortunately, this is where the efficacy of a hack ends.
Since you can’t buy flavor swirls, what you can do is take the top notes of the swirl and use a syrup to try to get ‘close’ to the taste you are after. It won’t be the same, but it might be close enough for comfort. Then there’s the sweet foam to try to duplicate, and that won’t be easy either. If you have a coffee frother, you might try frothing one of Dunkin’s commercially available creamers, but will it yield the same intricacies in flavor? Probably not but as far as hacks go, you might get close with a little trial and error under your belt.
The Only Real Solution
At the end of the day, there is only one real solution when you are craving the Charli drink in either evolution. If a quick fix is in order, try the hack but if you really, really want the Charli or the Charli Cold Foam coffee drink, then it’s off to Dunkin with you. That’s the only real solution and one you enjoy enough to get off the couch, find the keys and head on down to the nearest Dunkin for your daily reward.