As our planet continues to spin and hurtle, flying through space indefinitely, one thing is clear: we should take time each day to enjoy the little things. For me, trying out different kinds of cold brew from the grocery store has been a kindness I’ve allowed myself when out shopping for essential goods. Maybe it’s a caffeine addiction, but it’s also a small way to treat myself as the world seems to spin out of control daily.
Most of my preferences, and what’s made it onto the following list of my go-to’s, lean towards being dairy-free (usually with oatmilk as an alternative milk choice). But, essentially, what I’m looking for in grocery store cold brew is something that is lightly sweet but also robust in its coffee flavor, though the more smooth and less acidic, the better. I’ll be ranking my favorites based on the following stats: sweetness, strength (of flavor and caffeine), texture, acidity, and of course, aesthetics (packaging, portability, etc).
With all that in mind, here are five of my favorites, ranked from good to great!
High Brew – Mexican Vanilla
Sweetness: 6/10 – very sweet
Strength: 7/10 – stronger than your average cup of joe
Texture: 6.5/10 – mostly smooth
Acidity: 6/10 – slightly acidic
Aesthetics: 7.5/10 – classic, early 2010s hipster coffee shop vibes, updated!
High Brew’s Mexican Vanilla cold brew, made with cane sugar and reduced-fat milk, makes for a nice punch of caffeine with some sweetness thrown in for good measure. It’s perfect for when you’re in a rush in the mornings and for fans of chocolate since its sweetness comes through in a similar way. If you’re on the go, or just want a single serving of something to perk you up, High Brew is a great choice!
Cafe Olé Cold Brew – Vanilla or Original
Sweetness: 6/10 for Vanilla (fairly sweet), 5/10 for Original (basically black coffee)
Strength: 7.5/10 – very robust
Texture: 6/10 – mainly smooth
Acidity: 5/10 – has a bit of an acidic bite at the finish
Aesthetics: 8.5/10 – i love this little coffee jug!!
For Texans, H-E-B is an oasis of great food and any kind of home goods you might need! It’s no surprise then that their take on cold brew would make its way onto my list. This cold brew pairs well with milk (or a milk alternative of your choice) and is slightly acidic, but overall holds its own with cold brew brands. If you ever needed another reason to check out H-E-B, here it is!
STōK Cold Brew – Oatmilk
Sweetness: 7/10 – like a less sweet milkshake
Strength: 8/10 – deceptively strong, the caffeine sneaks up on you
Texture: 9/10 – very creamy and very smooth
Acidity: 9/10 – no real acidity here, unless you overdo it
Aesthetics: 7/10 – bold and eye-catching
Sometimes, you just need a premade cold brew that you can pour in your favorite thermos/container of choice that has sweetness AND strength. That’s where STōK’s Oatmilk Cold Brew Coffee comes into play. It has a robust flavor, a mild but satisfying sweetness, and is so creamy, it’s sometimes reminiscent of a lighter coffee-flavored milkshake. Pour over ice and you’ve got yourself a very pleasant way to kick off your day!
Cuvée Coffee Cold Brew – Nitro Horchata
Sweetness: 8/10 – very sweet, but not syrupy at all
Strength: 9/10 – the caffeine content is equivalent to 3 espresso shots, but never feels overwhelming
Texture: 9/10 – thanks to its nitrogen infusion, this cold brew is silky smooth, with no dairy
Acidity: 8/10 – somewhat acidic, but not overwhelmingly so
Aesthetics: 8.5/10 – i’m a sucker for bold fonts and yellows!
If you’re seeking a smooth, sweet, and novel kind of cold brew, Cuvée’s Nitro Horchata Coffee is what you’ve been looking for! Infused with nitrogen bubbles, this is sweet and creamy with no dairy involved. This cold brew is truly a marker in how far coffee technology has come, which makes every sip all the more enjoyable!
La Colombe Draft Latte with Oatmilk – Original
Sweetness: 9/10 – lightly sweetened, nearly perfect
Strength: 10/10 – equivalent to 1 and a half cups of coffee, which tends to be my usual serving of hot coffee
Texture: 10/10 – smooth as silk
Acidity: 9.5/10 – barely noticeable
Aesthetics: 9/10 – minimalistic, but elegant
If it hasn’t been clear by now, I’m a sucker for oatmilk. Most cold brews that have oatmilk pre-blended in them are pretty good, but this one just might be my favorite of the bunch. Smooth, but not too rich, and not acidic at all, this mildly sweet blend is never disappointing. Packed with as much caffeine as one and a half cups of coffee, this drink hits a sweet spot that keeps you perky without overdoing it. What more could you want from a cold brew?
In my experience, at the beginning of a long day, or as a treat anytime, cold brew has been a solid respite from the churning world outside. Whether it’s packed with flavor or a nice dairy alternative, it always manages to brighten my day, even when things feel uncontrollable or out of my grasp. Whatever your small gift you treat yourself to as the world spins on, I hope it gives you some brief sense of comfort, too.