Ready-to-drink cold brew coffee or cold brew concentrate can speed up your morning and save you money—here are the best ones on the market, according to our editors.
Sometimes being a food editor is fun. You get to play with expensive knives, sample the best salad kits at Trader Joe’s, and even try out the best boxed brownies. But, other times, like today, taste testing can get a little rough. Let me just say this: Our editors must really love our readers, because we drank 11 black, unsweetened cold brew coffees to find out which one tasted the best. That might not sound so bad, but some of our editors had the caffeine shakes for a few hours afterwards (that’s a lot of cold brew in a small window of time, guys.)
The good news? We definitely tried some good cold brew coffees—and you can probably find all of them in your local store (we picked ours up at Fresh Market and Target.) Sure, you can make cold brew at home, but the process can be messy and it doesn’t yield all that much coffee.
It's worth mentioning that cold brew and iced coffee are two very, very different things. Iced coffee is simply coffee that was brewed like any hot cup of Joe then chilled or poured over ice. Cold brew begins and ends without any added heat. This new type of coffee that is spreading across the nation is made with just water, really good coffee grounds and a filtering system. By utilizing time instead of heat, cold brew coffee results in a much more concentrated and strong flavor.
Personally, I prefer to buy ready-to-drink cold brew or use a concentrate and mix it with milk or water. It’s super fast and easy in the morning, and tastes just like it’s from your favorite coffee shop.
We tried 11 different cold brews—but only a few made our cut. Here are the ones our editors liked best in a blind taste test.
Starbucks Black Unsweetened Cold Brew Coffee
Our editors loved the super smooth cold brew and said it had “very low acidity, delicious nuttiness, and milk chocolate notes.” Tasters said it “very drinkable” and “would be a perfect base for milk or other add-ins.” (Buy it at Target)
Slingshot Ready to Drink Cold Brew
This cold brew is bold, but not bitter, and has bright, fruit-forward flavor with chocolate and cherry undertones. One taster said it had the most complex, interesting flavor out of all the cold brews they tried and “reminded them of cacao nibs.” (Buy it at Target)
Stumptown Nitro Cold Brew
This cold brew is infused with nitrogen to give it a full mouthfeel—without relying on milk. Tasters called the cold brew “dark, thick, heavy, velvety, and rich” and said it had a “good balance between smooth and strong.” (Buy it at Target)