Cold brew. This once underground buzz has turned into a full blown mainstream beverage. Large national coffee shops are serving it, and big name grocers are stocking it regularly. We decided to weigh in on a few different brands we were able to find at our local grocery store.
Before we got to the trial, we actually tried to brew our own. Little did we know, that without some simple equipment, the process could be pretty challenging. The basic steps are taking coffee grounds, mixing them with water, letting them steep for 17-24 hours, and then sifting the coffee grounds out. A decent ratio for the grounds/water mix is about 1 part grounds for 8 parts water. The roast of the grounds is up for interpretation. Some claim darker works better, others like lighter. It seems to be a preference thing. As for the soaking and sifting part, we’d highly recommend buying a device that makes this easy. We did not have a tool to make this easy, so we settled for trying to rubber band a giant coffee filter to a large bowl. If you guessed this was a terrible idea, you were right. The filter couldn’t handle the volume of water/grounds quickly enough and it eventually fell through. A small amount of cold brew was salvaged after the cleanup, but not more than a shot glass.
After all this work, we settled on just going with professionals who have the process down. At our local store, we found a wide variety of cold brew offerings. Two main categories stood out: plain cold brew and cold brew mixed drinks. The plain cold brew was just the steeped liquid. No sugar, milk, almond milk, coconut milk, stevia, or whatever else they’re throwing in these drinks. Just the basic nectar. The mixed drinks had different flavorings and things to cut the cold brew. For our plain cold brew sample, we picked up Blue Bottle Coffee, Stumptown Coffee, and Lucky Jack Coffee. For our mixed cold brew, we picked up High Brew Coffee, La Colombe Coffee, and Rebbl. We sifted through the two groups with our average taste buds and tried to give our best non-connoisseur take on which drink we’d recommend.
Plain Cold Brew
In the plain cold brew category, Blue Bottle received highest ratings from both voters. A unique, tangy first taste with Blue Bottle helped lead in this category. The best bang for your buck goes to Lucky Jack.
Mixed Cold Brew
In the mixed cold brew category, there was a split in ranking between rater 1 & 2. One ranked the High Brew highest, and the other ranked La Colombe highest. Best bang for your buck with a slight edge goes to La Colobme.
Overall the mixed cold brews received higher rankings than the plain cold brew. The additives provided a nice variety for the judges and it showed in the rankings. It also would be a little easier to consume a whole mixed beverage in one sitting with the levels of caffeine in each bottle. The plain cold brew packs quite the punch. If a cold beverage is more your style, and you need a good caffeine fix, cold brew is the way to go. Pre-workout, all-nighters, late-shift, long drive…whatever it may be, these are some solid options. Each of these had a unique story and some great marketing. Very nice packaging as well. Everyone agreed they would have another glass of each of them, but if had to pick one, the rankings told the story. We know there are tons more out there and are eager to keep trying. What’s your favorite? Did we miss one you recommend? Let us know!