The frost of winter is melting away, the summer sun is gradually awakening, and the iced coffee craze is back. Year after year, java lovers make the transition from their piping hot Pumpkin Spice Latte to the smooth, refreshing taste of a classic cup of iced coffee. Over the past few weeks, I've scoured the world of fast food to find the one thing that drives young students and business CEO's alike: iced coffee. Not only do these mega-chains offer cheap and convenient food, but many have also honed their barista skills to perfect the classic cup of joe.

It seems everyone you come in contact with has their own favorite place to get their caffeine fix. If you want to change up your routine and stray away from the usual Starbucks or Dunkin' Donuts, here's a guide to the best fast food iced coffee options from coast to coast.

5. Sonic

Noah Hutchinson

Sonic is known for their casual American cuisine, classic drive-in atmosphere, and over 160,000 drink combinations. However, their iced coffee is a hidden gem to even the most frequent customers of this fast food chain. Similar to a lot of other cheap iced coffee options, Sonic's spin on java is rather sweet and somewhat watered down, yet their wide assortment of inexpensive options sets them apart from the standard fast food restaurants. With flavors like Classic, French Vanilla, Chocolate, and Praline Pecan, the Green Mountain brand coffee serves as a perfect companion for every meal from breakfast to late night.

4. 7-Eleven

While a gas station convenience store might not be the first place to pop into your mind when thinking of iced coffee, 7-Eleven stands out from the crowd of typical corner stores. This iced coffee option made it onto this list thanks to its widespread convenience and cheap price. At my neighborhood location, a medium size was only $1.69, which allows some room in the budget for an extra pastry or even a higher quality drink later in the week.

7-Eleven offers both vanilla and mocha flavors, which is perfect for everyone out there who loves some pretty sweet coffee. All in all, the price and expedience of this classic convenience store makes it a quick and easy iced coffee option. 

3. Panera Bread

It seems like every time I order an iced coffee, the initial joy and excitement are diminished by the whooshing sound of the straw as it scavenges for every last drop of the liquid gold. With Panera, those days are in the past. Not only is the regular iced coffee refillable like their lemonades, teas, and fountain drinks, but it's also customizable to suit your every need. While the iced coffee itself isn't ground breaking in flavor, it still has a pure and natural flavor.

My favorite aspect of Panera's iced coffee is the ability to add as many or as little mix-ins as you want. Personally, I still like my coffee with a good amount of cream and sweetener, so being able to choose from an assortment of alternatives took my visit to the next level. While Panera does offer specialty cold coffee drinks made to order in the kitchen, the quality and price weigh on the side of simply ordering a regular iced coffee and tweaking the flavor on your own.

2. McDonald's

From macchiatos to frappes, McDonald's McCafe makes fast food lovers do a double take. While the golden arches aren't quite at the Starbucks or Dunkin' Donuts level, they're slowing creeping up there in terms of coffee quality. McDonald's iced coffee definitely deserves a spot in the top five due to its splendid balance of sweet, bitter, smoothness, and overall flavor.

Another thing I love about McDonald's McCafe is the availability of both new and classic menu options. Recently, I strayed away from my usual caramel iced coffee and indulged in the new turtle flavor. While other mainstream coffee shops offer appealing seasonal drinks, McDonald's offers fun flavors year-round, which means I'll never have to be without my favorite orders.

1. Chick-fil-A

Just when you thought Chick-fil-A couldn't get any better, their cold brew iced coffee changes your mind. The perfect balance of bitter and sweet, each each sip of their iced coffee heaven-like. I initially was very skeptical of how high of a quality the cold brew would be. All too often, fast food restaurants use iced coffee as a filler on their menu and subject their customers to overly sweet and artificial flavors. However, Chick-fil-A offers two authentically delicious iced coffees: original and vanilla. The only complaint I have is that I wish the cup was larger (story of my life). 

#SpoonTip: Try their frosted coffee to add an extra refreshing chill to your morning meal.

If you want to explore the world of fast food coffee even more, be sure to check out places like Taco Bell, Jack in the Box, and Wendy's to taste their spin on this classic beverage. These chains all offer seasonal drinks that might make your personal list of the best fast food iced coffees. So be adventurous, step out of your comfort zone, and stop to smell the coffee beans, because the iced coffee craze is here to stay.