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I’m not proud to admit that when I heard the words “stay at home order,” one of my first thoughts was: Oh no…coffee. In my defense, I’m a New Yorker living in 300-something square feet. Coffee shops aren’t just where I get my daily dose of caffeine, they’re my second home; they’re where I read, where I work, and where I socialize.
And as someone who had never quite mastered the at-home coffee situation, I knew that if I wanted to keep looking forward to starting my day with a refreshing, invigorating cold brew (my go-to coffee order), I better act fast and get the lay of the store-bought cold brew scene.
Naturally, my next move was to scour the internet and grocery store shelves, panic buying small bottles of every type of cold brew I could find, sampling them all, and finding my favorites.
All I can say is that I was extremely thorough. And in my humble opinion, these are the best cold brews you can buy with your money:
This cold brew comes in caramel, mocha, vanilla, and espresso, but the original black cold brew is my favorite. It’s super flavorful, has enough caffeine to really jump-start your morning, and doesn’t have a sour aftertaste (one of my biggest cold brew pet peeves). I mix my glass with ⅔ concentrate and ⅓ oat milk and I have to admit, it’s a fantastic way to start my day of traveling from the bedroom to the living room to the kitchen and back. Chameleon is also organic and costs less than $10 dollars for a 32-ounce glass bottle, which makes at least five coffees.
Chameleon Cold Brew Black Coffee Concentrate, from Target
If you’re looking for a serious wake-me-up, this Stumptown Cold Brew is your answer. The flavor of this cold brew is fantastic but fair warning, it’s very strong — honestly a little too strong for my everyday tastes but perfect if I was up until 3 a.m. watching “Gilmore Girls” for the third time. Stumptown’s excellent flavor and caffeinating power don’t come cheap, though. You’re going to pay $4-$5 for a single bottle of this magical drink, which is about 10 ounces of coffee.
Stumptown Cold Brew Coffee, from Target
If you’re looking for a simple but flavorful cold brew to have at home, Grady’s is an excellent option. This coffee is brewed New Orleans style, which means it contains chicory for some subtle sweetness. In my, again, humble opinion, the balanced flavor of Grady’s means it’s my favorite cold brew on this list to drink as is, without any milk added. At $60 dollars for a 32-ounce bottle of concentrate, which makes about eight coffees, Grady’s isn’t as cost-effective as Chameleon, but as an added bonus, it can be used to make a cup of hot coffee too.
You can also buy a Grady’s Cold Brew Kit with “Bean Bags” and a pour-and-store pouch that lets you brew your own in the fridge.
Grady’s Cold Brew Iced Coffee Cold Brew Kit, from Amazon
As I learned when I was lugging my freshly purchased battery of cold brew home from the store, an at-home cold brew habit can be heavy and take up a lot of space in your fridge. That’s why everyone should know about Jot. Described as “ultra coffee,” Jot is an extremely pure, concentrated form of liquid coffee. You need just one tablespoon of this extract diluted in water or milk to create a bold, flavorful cup of iced or hot coffee. Each 200ml bottle holds about 14 cups worth of coffee and puts you back $24. If you subscribe, you can save $4 per bottle.
Jot Ultra Coffee, from Jot
La Colombe never fails to produce a great cup of coffee at their brick and mortar shops, and their bottled cold brew is no exception. This cold-pressed espresso Brazilian coffee is bold, smooth, and a great deal (each $28 bottle makes a gallon of cold brew). La Colombe also sells single-serve cans of their cold brew, so you can feel like you’re taking your coffee to go, right from home.
La Colombe Cold Brew Coffee Brazilian, from Amazon
Thanks to the cold brew coffees above, my morning coffee routine has brought me just as much happiness (and maybe even more!) during COVID-19 as it did pre-pandemic. But you can also try making iced coffee and cold brew at home, including hot bloom cold brew if you never quite love the taste of the conventional stuff.