The 15 Best & Worst Cold Brew Coffees
You may have a cuppa joe religiously every morning, but have you tried getting your daily dose of caffeine from something other than the typical warm or iced cup of coffee? If not, it's time you tried cold brew coffee.
While it's close in temperature to its cool cousin, cold brew coffee is markedly different than your classic iced coffee. After all, that rich almost velvety coffee flavor doesn't materialize from a five-minute brew. For starters, the beverage is brewed for 12 to 24 hours in room temperature water, rather than hot water. Iced coffee, on the other hand, is the chilled version of a hot cup of joe that you whipped up earlier this morning before work.
You're probably asking, "why would I wait a day to sip on coffee when I can brew a fresh cup in a matter of minutes?" But once you have a sip of this tasty (and addicting!) drink, you'll understand why. The major advantage of this brewing method is that it results in a beverage that's less acidic than traditional cups. That's because when coffee is brewed at higher temperatures, the beans' oils are more prone to oxidize (causing it to taste sour) and the acids are more likely to degrade (causing your cup to taste bitter), a study in Food Research International states. And the classic belly-busting solution to an acidic, bitter drink? Dousing your beverage in cream and sugar.
Because naturally-sweet cold brew coffee can help you kick your cream and sugar habit, we here at Eat This, Not That! did some investigating and found a handful of popular brands that will make for a healthy and energizing drink on the go. Plus, we highlight which brands you should stray away from if you're trying to stay lean!
First… the Worst
Gold Peak Cold Brew Coffee
Salted Caramel & Almond Toffee Coffee Drinks
Per 14 fl oz bottle: 270 calories | 4 g fat | 53 g sugar
Apparently, Gold Peak doesn't just make one of the worst bottled tea products on the market. They also happen to make one of the worst coffee drinks as well. Yes, The Coca-Cola Company-owned brand holds true to the art of cold brew by soaking their 100% Arabica beans for 12 hours, but the issue lies in what they do after the brewing process. And that's diluting the flavorful concentrate with lots of water (the resulting drink only has 77 milligrams of caffeine, or about half of what you'd find in a traditional 8-ounce cup). And then adding enough sugar to max out your USDA-recommended daily intake of added sugars. This bottle should be a hard pass.
Stok Cold Brew Coffee
Per 13.7 fl oz bottle: 130 calories | 2 g fat | 20 g sugar
While this company seems really cool based on its design and overall aesthetic, the portion sizes make this cold brew a drink that may be best saved as a treat rather than one that's consumed on the regular. One 13.7 fluid ounce bottle of the Mocha "Not Too Sweet" has a whopping 20 grams of sugar in it—that's just about 40 percent of what the USDA recommends you consume in added sugars over the course of an entire day.
Starbucks Cold Brew Cocoa and Honey with Cream
Per 11 fl oz bottle: 150 calories | 4.5 g fat | 21 g sugar
Starbucks is arguably the mecca for coffee drinks; in some cities, it seems like there's one on every corner. With the company's products sold in grocery stores nationwide, it's fairly easy to get your hands on your second favorite if not your all-time favorite drink. Starbuck's cold brew is definitely a classic and rather simplistic menu item. Unfortunately, similar to the other companies on this end of the list, the Starbucks' flavor-infused rendition of the cold brew is chock-full of sugar. The bottled Cocoa and Honey with Cream cold brew packs 21 grams into a tiny 11-ounce bottle. Yikes!
Hiball Cold Brew Coffee
Per 8-oz can: 140 calories | 1 g fat | 25 g sugar
While not as sweet as Gold Peak's bottle, Hiball still packs in 3.1 grams of sugar per ounce of coffee drink. While we commend them for their smaller serving size, consuming half of the day's total added sugars is a bit much before you even hit lunch time.
Now the Best
Chameleon Cold Brew
Vanilla & Mocha
Per 10 fl oz bottle: 40 calories | 0 g fat | 7-9 g sugar
Per 10 fl oz bottle: 0 calories | 0 g fat | 0 g sugar
This clever cold brew company only accepts the best of the best when it comes to coffee beans, specifically those that are organic, free of GMOs, and ethically sourced. The company even uses a distinctive kind of water. Being based out of Texas, Chameleon Cold Brew is brewed purely with Texas Hill Country water. If that information didn't swoon your heart, maybe this will: none of their ready-to-drink flavors have more than 10 grams of sugar per bottle.
$3.96 per bottle at AmazonFresh.com
High Brew Double Espresso
Per 8 fl oz can: 50 calories | 0.5 g fat | 6 g sugar
Brewed with a blend of beans from Central and South America, High Brew takes special care and patience when preparing their cold brew. This Double Espresso can is their original formula: simple and strong but never bitter.
$21.85 per 12-pack ($1.82 each) at Amazon.com
Califia Farms Black Cold Brew Unsweetened
Per 12 fl oz serving: 20 calories | 0 g fat | 0 g sugar
You may have to keep the consumption Califia Farms' flavored, single-serve varieties to a minimum (some options run you 16 to 19 grams of sugar per 10 fluid-ounce serving), you certainly don't have to be as restrictive with this no-sugar-added, refreshing brew. Califia Farms products are widely sourced throughout the U.S., which makes it a lot easier for you to go and pick up a bottle for the week! If you like it sweetened, the brand also brews an offering with 7 grams of cane sugar per 12 fluid ounce serving.
$8.96 per 32-oz concentrate ($1.12 per diluted 8 oz serving) at Amazon.com
Starbucks Cold Brew Coffee, Black
Per 11 fl oz bottle: 15 calories |0 g fat | 3 g carbs (0 g sugar), 1 g protein
Starbucks seriously upped its game with this cold brew. The beans are carefully selected to be brewed without heat. And although this bottle comes from such a big coffee giant, it tastes as though it was made by a small hipster cafe in Brooklyn. The result is a rich, full-bodied brew with chocolate notes and a touch of natural sweetness. Start off your day with a tall one and pair it with one of these healthy breakfast ideas.
$2.98 at Walmart.com
Wandering Bear Cold Brew
Per 11 fl oz bottle: 5 calories | 0 g fat | 0 g sugar
Are you the kind of person that drinks coffee on occasion rather than daily? If so, this may be the cold brew of choice for you. You can purchase a whole box—16 servings worth—for just about $30. And it lasts for a long time so you can savor it slowly. The rich flavor will remain for about a month due to its unique packaging. The cardboard-like box prevents light from altering the coffee on a molecular level and the tap dispenser prevents the beverage from being exposed to air.
Available at your local Whole Foods or on Wandering Bear
Stumptown's Nitro Cold Brew
Per 11 fl oz can: 3 calories | 0 g fat | 0 g sugar
This Portland Oregon-based coffee company goes down in history as one of the first places to have created the nitro cold brew. Food scientist Nate Armbrust spent his free time trying to figure out how to perfect the cold brew so that it could be even creamier than it already was, Business Insider reports. His solution was to pump nitrogen gas into the brew, making its texture silkier and its consistency thicker almost like that of a stout but without the calories and sugar.
La Colombe Coffee Roasters Pure Black Cold Brew
Per 9 oz can: 5 calories | 0 g fat | 1 g sugar
Another excellent choice for those who prefer to sip rather than guzzle their cold brew is La Colombe Coffee Roasters Cold Brew. The caffeine content is pretty high too, with a small 9-ounce can providing the equivalent of what two cups of coffee would provide. The cold brew has no added sugar, but La Colombe does add a bit of functional fiber chicory root extract, which ends up leaving you with 1 gram of sugar per serving. Try pairing this smooth brew with a cup of overnight oats for a hearty breakfast combo.
$39.99 per 8-pack ($4.99 each 9 fl-oz can) at Amazon.com
Grady's Cold Brew
Per 4 fl oz concentrate: 10 calories | 0 g fat | 0 g sugar
Grady's produces an out-of-this-world New Orleans-style cold brew concentrate. The coffee grounds in this brew are steeped for 20 hours, but also in the presence of chicory and spices for an added savory yet semi-sweet tang. This concentrate will give you several cups of cold brew or, for something with a bit more sustenance, you can blend a few ounces into a smoothie!
$12.99 per 32-oz concentrate ($1.62 per diluted 8-ounce serving) at Amazon.com
Per 8 fl oz can: 0 calories | 0 g fat | 0 g sugar
Finally. The cafe wonder that is Blue Bottle finally released their delicious cold brew in cans. This canned coffee lives up to the high standards and quality that Blue Bottle employs in their cafes, but with the added benefit of being portable and ready to drink. The beans they used to make this brew are a natural Ethiopian coffee, a washed Ethiopian coffee, and a washed coffee from Uganda, create a very fruit-forward and sparkling quality.
Available at your local Whole Foods or on Blue Bottle
FoRTO Coffee 2xEnergy Shot
Vanilla & Mocha
Per 2 fl oz shot: 35 calories | 1 g fat | 7 g sugar
Per 2 fl oz shot: 20 calories | 0 g fat | 5 g sugar
If you're looking for a quick jolt to your day that isn't an energy drink, you need to check out FoRTO Coffee. These cold-brew shots are not only delicious, but they give you just the right about of energy to help you power through your work projects. Bonus: they're insanely portable.
$14.95 per 6-pack ($2.49 each) at Amazon.com
Per 10.5 fl oz bottle: 7 calories | 0 g fat | 0 g sugar
If you have yet to explore the smooth texture of a nitro, you best bless your palate with one tomorrow morning before you waltz into work, especially if you have heartburn or acid reflux. The reason? A cold brew with nitrogen gas pumped into it is significantly less acidic than a regular cup of coffee. Fellow sufferers of heartburn and acid reflux can say goodbye to the pain of drinking coffee with this and other cold brews.
Available at your local Rite Aid, Target or locations near you