When I was in high school, my town had an upscale little café that served amazing overpriced sandwiches and the BEST coffee drink I’ve ever had in my life.
Let me be upfront from the start: I’m a frou-frou coffee girl. I’m not one of those early risers humming the Folgers jingle as I down cup after cup of straight-up black coffee. “The best part of waking up…”
Is a blended mocha with whipped cream and chocolate syrup, thank you very much!
Doesn’t have quite the same ring to it, I know.
I wish I liked plain black coffee, but I don’t. I don’t drink much caffeine and when I do, it’s dressed up and pumped with flavor and more reminiscent of a dessert than anything else.
That little hometown café? It made coffee my way. Heavy on the flavor; light on the espresso.
And its blended drinks were far from average. It didn’t just serve the typical blended mocha, it served The Jumpin’ Monkey.
As its name suggested, The Jumpin’ Monkey was a banana chocolate coffee drink and the best thing I’ve ever sipped through a straw. Basically it was a blended banana mocha–sweet, refreshing, and full of chocolate.
For YEARS my mom and I have tried to recreate this drink at home. The café is long gone, but our memories of (and cravings for!) Jumpin’ Monkeys remain. I used to comb Google search results and interrogate my friends that had connections to the coffee shop, but all I got out of my research was a few possible ingredients. I’ll never know for sure if my recipe is even close to the original, but it’s almost as good as I remember it tasting.
This is a simple recipe that’s easy to make at home, even though a few of the ingredients might be new to you. They were to me, but they originated as part of my sleuthing, so I’ve kept them in my homemade Jumpin’ Monkeys just in case they were legitimate leads.
First up: espresso crystals. I’ve never been able to find a product with that exact title in grocery stores, so I’ve always used these Classic Roast crystals from Cub Foods:
Next up: nondairy creamer. I usually use this “creamy chocolate” variety because I figure extra chocolate cannot hurt.
Also a necessity is chocolate syrup, because my mom used to watch the baristas like a hawk when they mixed their Jumpin’ Monkeys together, and she’s certain that this was on the ingredient list because she saw it go straight into the blender from the Hershey bottle. She also observed them using one whole banana per drink.
The rest I’ve just kind of filled in through trial and error. I think fresh bananas are the best way to go, and this recipe tastes totally different if you use mushy ones. Usually I prefer browner bananas for their added sweetness, but this is the one recipe I always keep slightly green bananas on hand for.
Throw in some ice cubes and a bit of milk, and you’ve got yourself a Jumpin’ Monkey! For the best experience, top yours with whipped cream…and maybe even drizzle extra Hershey syrup on top. Your call. My whipped cream had mysteriously frozen in the back of my refrigerator this time around, so sadly I can’t show you what that looks like. Just trust me that it’s not a bad thing!
World, meet my favorite coffee.
Just call me Nancy Drew, tracking down one blended coffee drink at a time.
P.S. If you have ever had one of the real Jumpin’ Monkeys before and you have any inside information about what the real, original recipe calls for, please share your secrets! I think this one is pretty darn close, but my curiosity’s killing me! In the meantime, I’m more than happy with this homemade version. :)
- 1 banana
- 1/4 cup Hershey chocolate syrup
- 1 tsp. nondairy creamer
- 2 tsp. espresso crystals (If you like your coffee strong, you'll probably want to quadruple this amount. I just like a faint flavor.)
- 1 1/2 cups ice
- 1 Tbsp. milk
- Place banana in a blender with chocolate syrup, nondairy creamer, coffee, ice, and milk.
- Blend on high for one minute or until smooth. If needed, add more ice or milk and continue to blend.
- Pour into glasses and top with swirls of whipped cream if desired.
My favorite way to enjoy one of these coffees is with a spoonful of homemade whipped cream or a swirl of Reddi Whip! You can also drizzle extra Hershey syrup on top for the prettiest presentation.
Nutritional Info (calculated without any toppings):
Fat: 1.2 g
Cholesterol: .2 mg
Sodium: 19.6 mg
Carbohydrates: 38.7 g
Dietary Fiber: 1.4 g
Protein: 1.2 g