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My Review of Store-Bought Iced Coffee Brands

Quarantine is causing us to all go through caffeine withdrawal. With limited transportation and the closure of our favorite coffee shops, it can be hard to satisfy the need for a daily caffeine kick. TikTok recently started the trend of making your own whipped coffee, but, if you’re anything like me, that experiment didn’t end well. Because of this, I decided to rank and review five common store-bought iced coffee brands to see which ones have that perfect blend of caffeine that I’m sure we all need in our lives right now.

Each of these brands can be found in your local grocery store and are relatively cheap compared to the cost of an iced latte from Starbucks. Personally, I like my coffee strong and sweet, so I always add a bit of sweet cream whenever I drink it. Keep in mind, the brands I think taste good may not taste good for you. Please feel free to go out and try them for yourselves and experiment a little with your mixtures to see what you like best! [bf_image id="q86poj-bvxne8-88v9ev"]

5. Starbucks Medium Roast Iced Coffee

Starbucks is my go-to coffee before I start class, so I was really excited to try their store brand of iced coffee. I usually get a blonde roast, so I figured the medium roast would have a better flavor in comparison to its darker alternative. I was wrong…

This was my least favorite of all the coffee brands I tried. I tried it black at first, and it tasted like someone put caffeine in mud and bottled it to serve to the public. It didn’t help when I added the sweet cream either; it just made it more watery. I was definitely not a fan of this brew, and it made me wish I drove to an actual Starbucks rather than suffer through drinking this every morning. If you like your coffee as strong as I do, do not get this brand.

4. International Delight Caramel Macchiato

I remember seeing International Delight on the shelves even before iced coffee became mainstream. Since it’s been around for so long, I figured they had time to perfect their flavor, so I decided to give it a shot.

It was the sweetest coffee I have ever tasted (if you could even call it coffee). It felt like I was drinking straight creamer, and the caramel was too overwhelming. The worst part about it? It didn’t satisfy my caffeine cravings. I ended up using it as the creamer for the next coffee on the list because I just couldn’t take another sip.

3. Stok Un-Sweet Cold Brew Coffee

For this one, I figured I would go for the darker un-sweet blend since I was all sugared out from International Delight. It actually ended up being a lighter roast than I expected, which is not a bad thing, and I went through it relatively quickly since it tasted good.

The problem with this brand is that while it tastes good black, when you add any creamer or flavorings, it becomes watery, and the coffee becomes undetectable. When I tried it, I added my usual sweet cream, and then I added my leftover International Delight coffee, and both made it too milky for my taste. My recommendation for this one is to either drink it black or try one of the flavored versions so you can avoid that watery taste. [bf_image id="q92e92-7yjvww-cr6rqz"]

2. Chameleon Organic Cold Brew

I went out on a whim and bought this one because of the packaging. I loved the glass bottle, and I figured I could reuse it sometime in the future—not to mention the fact that I felt super bougie buying it since it had the word “organic” on it. 

Not going to lie, I considered stopping the list here because I thought it couldn’t get better than this. The brew is super bold, and the coffee has the perfect level of bitterness. When I added my creamer, it became a little watery, but you could still taste the coffee, which was a great change from the previous brands. Again, if you want the full flavor, I recommend drinking it black or buying one of the favored options (the vanilla one is very good) and drinking that black as well. Overall though, this one was one of the better options. 

1. Califia Medium Roast Cold Brew

I had heard a lot about Califia, and I would always see their bottles in Publix. Before this test, I’d only ever tried the expresso flavor, and I thought it was too overwhelming. I wasn’t too excited to try this brand, but I am so glad that I did.

This brew is the only reason why Chameleon did not place the number one spot on my list. It’s dark, it’s bold, and it gives you the caffeine you need to survive. It comes in a big enough bottle, and it’s relatively inexpensive. My favorite part about it is that it doesn’t become watery when you add milk or creamer. It tastes like a regular iced coffee straight from the cafe. What more could you want?

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Leah Abounader is a Senior at Florida State University double majoring in Information, Communication, and Technology and Editing, Writing, and Media. She loves all things tech design and is obsessed with live music.
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