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We Tried All Those Cold Brew Coffees You See At The Grocery Store

Just in time for iced coffee season, here's what to splurge on and what to skip.

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But just because you crave the cold stuff daily doesn't mean you always want to make it. And that's where the bottled versions come in handy.

Lately, we've noticed more and more bottled brews popping up just about everywhere — from grocery stores, to gas stations, to Instagram feeds. And it makes sense: If you need a pick-me-up, grabbing one can be cheaper (and faster) than the coffee shop. And you can avoid the morning unicorn-fueled rush.

First, we picked our lineup:

Taylor Miller / BuzzFeed

We tried to keep things pretty diverse, knowing that coffee is ~personal~ and everyone's tastes are different. The drinks ranged from bold and black nitros to sweet and creamy lattes — and all are available nationally, or close to it.

And got to work tasting, scoring, and ranking:

The coffee was poured into unlabeled cups so tasters wouldn't know what was what. Everyone was also given a tasting sheet to record feedback and rank their faves.

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SEVENTH PLACE: Lucky Jack Nitro Cold Brew in Double Black

Taylor Miller / BuzzFeed

Retail price: $2.99. Semi-national availability.

What our tasters thought: The good? Tasters noted that this one was "strong, bold, and intense." The not-so-good? Some said that they were thrown off by the smell. One called it called "funky and kinda sour," and another compared it to beer.

SIXTH PLACE: La Colombe Draft Latte

Taylor Miller / BuzzFeed

Retail price: $2.99. National availability.

What tasters thought: According to the label, the main ingredients are espresso and reduced fat milk — and the majority of our tasters thought this drink tasted mostly like the latter. One taster noted: "I prefer lattes and frapps, so I liked that this was really sweet and creamy, but I wish it had more coffee flavor. It would be my favorite one if it were stronger."

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FIFTH PLACE: Blue Bottle New Orleans Iced Coffee

Taylor Miller / BuzzFeed

Retail price: $3.99. Semi-national availability.

What our tasters thought: Besides water and coffee, this version also adds organic whole milk, chicory root, and cane sugar — and it split our tasters into two camps. On one side: "This tastes kind of a like coffee-flavored Baileys, and I'm not mad about it." On the other side: "Nope. I'm not here for cereal milk."

FOURTH PLACE: High Brew Cold Brew Coffee in Mexican Vanilla

Taylor Miller / BuzzFeed

Retail price: $2.50. National availability.

What our tasters thought: At less than $3, this was the cheapest drink in the lineup. Two different testers said it tasted like Lucky Charms, and while some were into it ("This is marshmallowy and goddamn delicious"), others were decidedly not. ("This is what your 5-year-old wants when they ask for coffee.")

THIRD PLACE: Chameleon Cold Brew Organic Black

Taylor Miller / BuzzFeed

Retail price: $3.99. National availability.

What our tasters thought: For most, this brew was smooth, easy to drink, and mild. But for some, it was almost too mild: "I'd drink with this with an afternoon snack, but I'm not sure it would wake me up in the morning."

SECOND PLACE: Starbucks Cold Brew Cocoa & Honey with Cream

Taylor Miller / BuzzFeed

Retail price: $3.29. Semi-national availability.

What our tasters thought: Of the sugar-added drinks in the lineup, this one seemed to strike the best balance with our tasters. "It's got enough sugar to make it enjoyable, but it's not over-the-top," one noted. Said another who typically drinks their coffee black: "Surprisingly, I love this. It's just sweet and creamy enough." Several also said it tasted like vanilla, though the label mentions adding cream, cocoa, and honey instead.

FIRST PLACE: Stumptown Nitro Cold Brew

Taylor Miller / BuzzFeed

Retail price: $4.99. National availability.

What our tasters thought: This was most expensive coffee on the list — but it won handily, with 6 of our 10 tasters ranking it as their #1 choice. It was an almost universal favorite for tasters who preferred their coffee black ("This was strong and acidic, and I loved it"). It also picked up a few fans from the other side ("I usually drink lattes so this was a little bitter for me — but I bet it'd be great with a splash of cream.") The nitro aspect also scored points: "It's got a little fizziness on top, and it feels fresh. I'd pour this over ice and drink two."

What's your favorite iced coffee or cold brew? Tell us in the comments below! ☕

* Note: All products were provided by the brands for the purposes of a taste test; but we were under no obligation to positively review them.

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