I effing love cold brew coffee. I’ve always loved iced coffee but I couldn’t really drink it black and it was so easy to water down accidentally – the worst. Then I had my first cold brew, and what a great day it was. I can say with certainty I can count on two hands the amount of times I’ve had iced coffee since (by this I mean I only order it when there is no cold brewed option).
So, I went to the grocery store and grabbed all of the cold brews on the shelf and here’s what I thought of them.
Califia Farms: Salted Caramel
I liked the bottle, it reminded me of the bottled frappuccinos that Starbucks makes. The label color also matches the color of the coffee almost exactly. Additionally, it smells like a chocolate martini. High hopes.
Hopes ruined. The salted caramel taste is a bit too strong. This one has almond milk but I’m wondering what it would taste like with regular milk because it’s not the worst thing ever.
Final Grade: B because I’d drink it if literally nothing else was around but it definitely wouldn’t be my top choice.
Red Thread Good: A Hint of Chocolate
This one looks cool but upon first whiff, it was gross. I already decided this one sucks. Then I tasted it and it tasted like bitter dark chocolate when you wish you were eating milk chocolate.
I added milk and sugar to see if it helped and somehow this made it worse. It almost tasted like a gross vegetable? I can’t really explain myself on this one but it’s not one I would recommend.
Final Grade: C- because it was awful but every serving purchased of Red Thread Good gives 2 cents to a charity “dedicated to providing nutritious food to people in need in your neighborhood” which is pretty admirable.
Stumptown: Nitro Cold Brew
I was excited about this one because I took a trip to Seattle a few weeks ago and was #blessed enough to be able to try Starbucks’ new nitro cold brew. I can say with ultimate certainty that it was the best coffee I’ve ever had in my entire life and I am anxiously awaiting it’s arrival to the east coast.
This one was not as good as the one I had from Starbucks, but ultimately, it was the best so far out of all the others I had tasted. The milk and sugar improved the taste.
Final Grade: B+ because it was pretty good but it wasn’t their best work.
Starbucks Cold Brew
I feel biased because I order a grande cold brew with two pumps of hazelnut from Starbucks almost every day. However, I feel as though I can separate my personal feelings from my professional feelings (ex: Personally, I don’t like Taylor Swift. However, I enjoy her music on a professional-music-enjoying level. I rest my case)
This one is the best one. It’s the easiest to drink plain and I didn’t have to convince myself that I didn’t hate it like most of the others on here.
Final Grade: A- because it tastes pretty good but they didn’t go the extra mile like I know they are capable of.
Grady’s Cold Brew
This one was a pleasant surprise. It’s a concentrate so you’re not supposed to drink it plain. Bonus because that means, unlike the rest of the bottles, I can use this bottle for over a week, how #economical.
The only setback is that I created my cold brew concoction with milk which feels like cheating because usually plain cold brew is made with water and you can add milk later.
Final Grade: A because it was pretty damn good but A+ is reserved for excellent.
Stumptown Cold Brew
This one is pretty good but it’s strong. If you’re down with strong coffee this might be your best bet but if not I’d return to the Grady’s or the Starbucks. The bottle is also pretty cool looking but I tasted this one last because I didn’t have a bottle opener nearby (meaning this one is the least accessible, if we’re talking purely from a laziness standpoint).
Addendum: It’s twist off. I am disappointed in my lack of scrutiny.
Final Grade: A- because even though it’s strong I would probably drink it and, again, A+ is reserved for excellence.
Stumptown Cold Brew: Coffee with Milk
I felt a mixture of skeptical and excited at this. The side says this drink is “a euphoric mix of our Cold Brew Coffee” (which I just said was pretty good, just strong) “combined with classic chocolate milk”. Classic chocolate milk is one of my favorite drinks but I’ve never had it with coffee. You can see why I felt this particular mixture of feelings.
Upon tasting it, I honestly didn’t hate it. It basically tasted nothing like coffee, but a peculiar chocolate milk drink, which is sort of is? Like, if you thought to yourself, “I really want some chocolate milk right now but I need caffeine and I’m willing to sacrifice a little bit of that classic chocolate milk taste”, this would be the perfect solution.
Final Grade: B+ because it actually does taste good but it’s not what I would look for in a cold brew coffee choice. It’s sort of like if you were assigned an assignment and didn’t really follow the assignment directions but your product is still good? Grading is tough.