Gone are the days where cold coffee meant regular coffee with ice cubes in it (although some people will still try to pull a fast one on us) or a pot of coffee from yesterday that was put into the refrigerator. These days, it’s crafted and brewed in cold water for at least 12 hours and can be flavored and/or filled with nitrogen.
We are cold brew fiends and it’s one of two usual drinks we choose if we’re trying out a new coffee shop, the other being a cortado. But, sometimes we don’t have a chance to go to an actual coffee shop or we’re feeling too lazy to make a cup for ourselves (hey, we’re just being honest here…). So we decided to head over to the grocery store and test out all the cold brews we could find and let you know how they stacked up!
First taste: Not overpowering and very refined
Secret Squirrel hails from our hometown, Anaheim, California. Home of Disneyland and the Los Angeles Angels (Ohhh okay, now we see why people are so confused and think that Anaheim is in LA county…sorry about that, it’s definitely in Orange County, friends). We digress.The company was started by a husband and wife duo couple looking to see how they could create their favorite beverage. They started selling their delicious cold brew at farmers markets and grew a bit of a following. Now, they sell their cold brew concoctions online (you can even get the concentrate) or you can find them in various specialty stores throughout the West, Southwest and Midwest. We found ours at Whole Foods and Costco. Do yourself a favor and buy it at Costco because you’re not going to want to share this drink (Jay sure didn’t) and you get 12 for the price of the cost of two at Whole Foods!
Verdict: 9/10 It’s so smooth and it gets you going through the day! And just like the bottle says, “Warning: consuming this beverage may cause you to change the world.” Yes, please!
First taste: Very earthy and as Whit says, “It smells like the country” (disclaimer: she went to college in Kansas (rock chalk) so she loves the country
There’s a huge chance you’re quite familiar with Chameleon Cold Brew already. Coming from one of our favorite cities, Austin, Texas, these guys are serious about their cold brew. Two friends (Chris Campbell and Steve Williams), bonding over their love of coffee, decided to start experimenting with different formulas and brewing methods in 2010. After many tries, they finally found the perfect blend of 100% organic Arabica beans, pure Texas Hill Country water and the right brewing time and temperatures. Friends, family and strangers alike went gaga over their cold brew and before they knew it, they were in natural grocers all over the country! Pretty rad. Since then, they’ve added different flavors to the mix – we could only find the black coffee in stores near us (we believe the rest were sold out), but we’re on the hunt for the vanilla and chicory brews!
Verdict: 8/10 When you first take a big whiff of this stuff, it’ll knock you backwards. It takes Whit back to her college days and smells kinda hippie, kinda earthy. We love that it doesn’t give you the caffeine shakes and is just the right amount of flavor without needing to add cream or sugar. Keep Austin weird (and well-caffeinated), Chameleon!
First taste: Smooth and light-weight
Caveman Coffee is brewed in Albuquerque, New Mexico so we have a lot of pride in that since well, it’s also one of the places we call home. We grabbed this can at one of our favorite coffee shops, Epiphany, which is located in an outdoor building (Green Jeans Farmery) made of shipping containers. Definitely a must-see in the Duke City! This cold brew is a little bit different than the ones we’ve already mentioned, as it’s nitrogen-infused. What does that mean exactly? Nitro-infused coffee is the answer to anybody who ever wished their Guiness had caffeine it it. It’s velvety smooth and isn’t so harsh on your tongue (read: not as acidic) allowing you to easily enjoy it in all its glory. And if you want to get extra fancy, pour it into a nice goblet and watch all the tiny air bubbles settle on the top, forming a perfect head.
Upon doing more research, we realized how awesome this company is – created by three athletes who truly care about the process of making cold brew and are health-conscious. Their beans are single-estate and come from a family farm in Columbia. And single-estate matters because it puts a face with your coffee and makes it an even more intimate experience. Don’t worry we’ll go into more detail about the differences in a later post (we’re still learning, too!). Oh, and about those three athletes mentioned above – you may have heard of them – Keith Jardine (UFC fighter), Tait Fletcher (a SAG award-winning actor who’s been on Breaking Bad, The Equalizer and Jurassic World…to name a few) and Lacie Mackay (a stunt trainer for the world’s leading actors and actresses and also a CrossFit athlete). Their mission is to lead “the pirate life” which means a lifestyle that’s beyond leading a mediocre life, striving to be the healthiest and best person you can be which sometimes means having to go against the grain.
Verdict: 7/10 because we love a good ‘ol nitro-infused cold brew and this one is pretty awesome. They’ve done at outstanding job at Caveman and it’s nice to show some NM love! The only thing we didn’t like was how tiny the can was (8oz) for the price ($5) – not the best bang for your buck.
ORIGINAL COLD BREW
First taste: Technically our first taste was a few years back, but this is what did it for us when it came to cold brew. Before Stumptown we had no idea the different ways you could brew coffee and we’re thankful that it saved us from the wide world of bad coffee. As far as taste, it’s one of the best in the game! So refreshing…our first true love.
CANNED NITRO COLD BREW
First taste: SOOO creamy. THE. ABSOLUTE. BEST. MUST. HAVE. A. TAP. OF. THIS. IN. OUR. HOME. COFFEE.
We won’t go into too much detail about Stumptown Coffee Roasters because you’ve most likely had it or heard about it. But, if you’re new to the world of cold brew, we suggest trying these babies out! Like we’ve already said, it’s our first love and you never forget your first. The original cold brew stubbies are a perfect size and amount to get the job done. The nitro-brew is everything that we love about a tall, cold glass of beer minus the headache. Smooth. Creamy. SO MUCH FLAVOR. And if you need some flavor to your brew (no judging), then you can also grab coconut cold brew, chocolate cold brew and cold brew with milk added (perfect when you’re really on-the-go or have a long road trip ahead of you)!
What we love about Stumptown is that they believe in partnerships with their farmers. It’s not a transaction and then they’re done. It’s old friends gathering together, reconnecting with each other at least four times a year and creating sustainable farms. They believe in the farms so much that if they see potential, they’ll invest in that farm.We really like that and can definitely get behind a company who sees the value in other people.
Verdict: 10/10 for both – we really can’t say enough good things about Stumptown and their cold brew is the gold standard when it comes to coffee. Head over to any Whole Foods (if you don’t have a Stumptown near you) and grab a few for yourself – we can’t guarantee there will be any left if you wait too long!
And there you have our round up of grab-and-go cold brews that you can find in most natural grocery stores near you! If you have a brand that we should give a go, let us know in the comments below or shoot us an e-mail. We’re always looking for great, fast fix coffees for those days when we’re just thankful we got up and brushed our teeth before heading out the door! And let us know what you think about cold brew. Have you tried these before and what did you love/hate about ’em? Sound off in the comments or let us know on Twitter or Instagram! Now, if you’ll excuse us…we haven’t slept in the past six days trying out all these cold brews and feel a crash coming on…