We don’t know about you, but we lead busy lives. We also love coffee, and sometimes our hectic schedules prevent us from making our usual cup at home or stopping on the way to work at our favorite coffee shop. Missing out on a morning cup of joe is a surefire way to throw off the rest of our day. Luckily, canned coffee is a quick grab-and-go option that tastes great and gives us that caffeine boost we all love. We were skeptical at first, but in a pinch, having a few cans in the fridge can save you from the doldrums of a coffee-less day.
Canned coffee has been growing in popularity recently, primarily due to its convenience. As more companies come out with canned coffee options, it becomes more difficult to choose. How do you know which ones are the best? That’s where we come in. We put together this set of reviews to bring you a shortlist of the best canned coffees out there. Hopefully, you can take some time out of your packed schedule to check it out so that next time you’re running late, you don’t have to skip your coffee!
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
|Best Overall||Starbucks Doubleshot Espresso + Cream||CHECK PRICE|
|Best Value||Maxwell House Ready-to-Drink Iced Coffee||CHECK PRICE|
|Premium Choice||BOSS Coffee Japanese Flash Brew||CHECK PRICE|
|Starbucks Nitro Cold Brew||CHECK PRICE|
|High Brew Cold Brew Coffee Black & Bold||CHECK PRICE|
The 10 Best Canned Coffees – Reviews 2020
1. Starbucks Doubleshot Espresso + Cream– Best Overall
In the coffee world, Starbucks reigns supreme, and this canned coffee lives up to their stellar reputation. We weren’t sure if a canned coffee could bring that bold Starbucks flavor punch we’re used to, but it totally does.
This can is a double shot of espresso with cream and sugar that is surprisingly close to what you’d get in one of their stores. It’s bold with a smooth, creamy mouthfeel and is definitely not lacking caffeine. If you don’t have time to stop at one of their many brick and mortar locations, this is a worthy replacement.
While it isn’t the cheapest canned coffee available, it is a fair price, and we feel we got our money’s worth. One issue we’ve heard about, but haven’t run into ourselves, is cans arriving unsealed. Cans are prone to puncturing, and because this coffee contains milk and cream, any cans that come with the seal broken will be curdled and undrinkable. We haven’t run into this issue ourselves, and it seems like quality control has improved since these cans were introduced.
Putting the potential unsealed can issues aside, we love this coffee! It’s bold, smooth, and a great choice for coffee on-the-go.
All in all, we think this is the best canned coffee on the market.
2. Maxwell House Ready-to-Drink Iced Coffee– Best Value
We were hesitant to try this one, but boy, are we glad we did! We have a rocky relationship with Maxwell House’s standard blends, but this canned iced coffee is delicious. It isn’t as strong or flavorful as the Starbucks Doubleshot, but it still tastes great.
Just like the number one option, this one contains milk and sugar, so it’s an all-in-one package. However, it isn’t a double strength, which can be a plus, depending on your caffeine tolerance.
What sets this Maxwell House apart from the rest of the canned coffee on our list is the price. It’s a great deal, given how delicious it is. We toyed with putting this as our overall favorite, but the Starbucks Doubleshot has more flavor and caffeine, which gives it the edge over Maxwell House.
Even so, this Maxwell House is very tasty, and the low price makes it one of the best canned coffees for the money.
3. BOSS Coffee Japanese Flash Brew– Premium Choice
BOSS Coffee’s Japanese Flash Brew is a truly special canned coffee. Flash brewed coffee is an ingenious way to make iced coffee that enhances strength and body without increasing the bitterness. BOSS Coffee brews the coffee at a high temperature, similar to how ordinary hot coffee is made. The coffee is then chilled immediately after brewing to make an iced coffee with all the flavor of a traditional hot coffee.
Flash brewed coffee is a treat in ordinary circumstances, but to have that level of quality in a canned coffee is impressive. BOSS has achieved something impressive with this coffee. It is bold and smooth without the slightest hint of bitterness. We bought a 12-pack of cans expecting them to last a while, but they were all gone in under one week.
So, what’s the catch? These cans are expensive. We would love to have a few in our fridge at all times, but the high price makes it a once in a while treat instead. This coffee is black, but it’s so smooth you won’t miss the milk and sugar. If you have some extra money to spend, pick this one up. You won’t be disappointed.
RELATED READ: How to Make Japanese Iced Coffee (Easy & Delicious)
4. Starbucks Nitro Cold Brew
We already said that Starbucks is the king of coffee, and we support that claim by making Starbucks the only company with two entries on our list. This one is a bit different from the first. It’s a nitro cold brew, which means it is exceptionally creamy and smooth, even though it’s black. We’re fans of Starbucks’ nitro cold brew in stores and were impressed with how closely these cans replicate that experience.
Getting the characteristic smoothness of nitrogen-infused coffee in a can is not an easy feat. When you crack the seal, you can hear the nitrogen rushing into the coffee as the pressure is released. Without a tap, this is as close to a real nitrogenated coffee you can get, and it’s delicious!
It pains us to have to put this at number four because we really do like it a lot. Unfortunately, the price puts it in an awkward limbo between the luxury coffee from BOSS and the everyday coffee of Starbucks’ own Doubleshot. Don’t let its spot in the ranking fool you. For nitro coffee lovers, we wholeheartedly recommend it.
5. High Brew Cold Brew Coffee Black & Bold
High Brew Cold Brew is a dairy-free, sugar-free, straightforward black coffee in a can. Like the previous entry, this is a canned cold brew, but it isn’t nitrogenated. We are partial to nitro cold brew, which is the only thing keeping this one from being at number four.
High Brew’s coffee is 100% Direct Trade Arabica coffee, and that quality comes through in the cup…or can, in this case. Their coffee is bold and smooth without being bitter. It’s a good value too, sitting in the middle of the pack in terms of price.
We did experience an issue with freshness, similar to what we heard about the Starbucks Doubleshot cans. One of the cans didn’t hiss when we opened it, and an exploratory sip revealed it was fizzy like seltzer. This could just be a one-off occurrence, but we felt it was worth mentioning in case it is a recurring issue.
As long as your cans arrive sealed, this is a deliciously smooth canned cold brew at a competitive price that we are happy to recommend.
6. RISE Brewing Co. Nitro Cold Brew Coffee
We were excited to try this RISE Brewing nitro cold brew variety pack with original black, oat milk latte, oat milk mocha, and classic latte flavors. All of these coffees have the superb texture and mouthfeel we love about nitro coffee. We were impressed by RISE’s ability to produce an authentic nitro cold brew coffee in a can, and bringing that texture in several flavors is an added benefit.
We were less impressed with the flavors themselves. None are bad, but all of them are a bit thin and almost flavorless. Our least favorite is the original black, which is enjoyable for its texture alone but doesn’t taste like much. The other flavors are better, but we think that is attributable to the oat milk and mocha in them rather than the coffee.
Overall, we love the variety and smoothness of these cans, but the coffee itself is unimpressive. They’re still enjoyable, and the price is good, but they aren’t as good as the cans higher up on the list.
7. La Colombe Triple Draft Latte
Next up is La Colombe’s Triple Draft Latte. This canned coffee is advertised as espresso and frothed milk, but we didn’t find the milk to taste or feel any different than ordinary milk. Being branded as a latte means thick, creamy milk to us and we were disappointed to find that this is really just espresso with milk in a can. Maybe it is unreasonable to expect high-quality milk texture in a can, but we feel the labeling is misleading.
The coffee is high quality and very good, and the overall texture is smooth even if it is a bit thin. Again, this might be because we were expecting the mouthfeel to be similar to frothed milk.
This is a matter of personal preference, but we didn’t love the added chicory root fiber. Some people love New Orleans style coffee and if you’re one of them you will probably like it. For us, it was too strong for the coffee and overpowered the other flavors. If you’re looking for that chicory taste in a canned coffee, this is basically your only option. It’s competitively priced and quite good, as long as you know what you’re getting.
8. Califia Farms Nitro Cold Brew Coffee
Califia Farms joins the ranks of the other canned nitro cold brews on our list with a solid but unremarkable showing. We love that the coffee is 100% Arabica and Direct Trade and also like that they report where their coffee is sourced. This is a nice touch that is often missing in canned coffee.
Nitro coffee is known for its velvety texture, and while this coffee is smooth, it isn’t quite as smooth as we’d like. Starbucks and RISE have set the bar high, and Califia falls just short of those options in terms of smoothness.
This coffee comes with oat milk, which masks the flavor a bit too much for our tastes. If you like milk in your coffee then you might like that, but it is the predominant flavor.
It isn’t the cheapest canned coffee either and at this price, we expect more. We’d be more enthusiastic about Califia if they were priced more competitively. Still, responsibly sourced coffee comes at a premium and we appreciate their transparency when it comes to sourcing their beans.
9. illy Ready-to-Drink Authentic Italian Coffee
Illy’s ready-to-drink authentic Italian coffee is another entry in the “doesn’t meet expectations” category. Canned coffee has gotten much better over the years but no one has figured out how to make a great tasting cappuccino or latte can yet. Once again, our expectations were raised by the cappuccino flavor, and once again, we were let down. If Illy can’t make a great canned cappuccino, we’re pretty sure it doesn’t exist.
It isn’t all bad though. Illy uses 100% Arabica beans and the coffee itself is very good. Unfortunately, without the nitrogenating mechanism that other cans have, this one tastes flat in comparison. We were underwhelmed with this coffee’s blandness, which is a distant cry from Illy’s pre-ground espresso. There are hints of the strong flavor we’ve grown accustomed to from Illy, but overall the coffee is weak and almost watery.
It’s a shame because these cans are a good price, and from a name like Illy, we expected them to be great. Unfortunately, the reality is they are not as good as the other options on our list and fall well short of the bar set by Starbucks, Maxwell House, and BOSS.
10. Jay Street Coffee Coffee Shot
Our final canned coffee comes from Jay Street Coffee. This coffee lacks the intricacies of the other coffees on our list since it is just black coffee in a can. We applaud their confidence in their coffee and, for what it is, this coffee isn’t bad. If you want plain black coffee in a can at a reasonable price, then Jay Street’s coffee shot will deliver.
When we weigh this coffee against the others on our list, though, it doesn’t hold up well. The coffee is ok, but it is a little on the bitter side. The texture is also ok, but not even close to the velvety smoothness of some of the nitro varieties we tried. If this was much cheaper, we might have considered it for our budget option, but at this price, it is not competitive with the other options on our list.
The final straw for us is the caffeine content. This coffee has as much caffeine as one and a half cups of regular strength coffee. This might be a plus for some people, but it only made us jittery and led to an afternoon crash.
Hopefully, our reviews have given you some idea about which canned coffee you’d like to try. Now, we’re going to cover some general things you should think about before you stock up on canned coffee.
Milk vs. Black
If you are firm about whether you put milk in your coffee, you already know what you’re looking for. For people who aren’t sure or are interested in branching out, here are some things to think about for canned coffee specifically.
We usually drink our daily coffee black, but we also enjoy a nice cappuccino or latte once in a while. If you’re looking to stock your fridge with some cans of coffee to grab when you’re in a hurry, we think choosing a black coffee is the best option. The reason is simple: you can always pour the can in a travel mug and add milk, but you can’t take milk out of a can that comes with it already added. If you enjoy both black coffee and coffee with milk, canned black coffee gives you the best of both worlds.
Another consideration is freshness. Milk introduces another way for your coffee to go bad. We like stocking up on cans, which means we sometimes keep them for a while before we drink them. If you don’t want to risk spoiled milk ruining your coffee, black is once again, the better choice.
Nitro or Regular
You’ve probably gathered from our reviews that we love nitro coffee, especially nitro cold brew. The smooth texture and rich mouthfeel of nitro coffee are incomparable to anything else. Canned coffee is the only way to get that nitro coffee smoothness at home without installing your own keg and tap system. This makes it an easy choice for us, but we realize it ultimately comes down to preference.
Even discounting our own personal biases, we think nitro is the better option for canned coffee. We’ve found that nitro cans have more flavor in addition to their improved texture. This might just be a coincidence, but it happened frequently enough that we think there’s something to it. Unless you dislike nitro coffee, we recommend looking for a nitro can over a regular one.
We don’t drink canned coffee every day, but you want to weigh the costs and benefits carefully if you do. Canned coffee is always going to be more expensive than making your own from whole beans or pre-ground bags. It’s also often more expensive than purchasing from a brick-and-mortar store.
We like having cans in our refrigerator for those days when we can’t find the time to make our usual cup. As a special treat once in a while, the price isn’t as big of a factor, and you might consider spending a bit more to get a higher quality premium coffee.
And that just about does it! We hope you’ve found these reviews helpful. Canned coffee is a convenient way to bring coffee with you and saves time without necessarily compromising taste. Many brands have canned coffee now, and we’ve tried to give you a sense of what options are available.
If you’re only going to try one canned coffee, we recommend Starbucks Doubleshot Espresso plus cream. You get high-quality Starbucks coffee at a moment’s notice without having to take any time out of your busy day. For a more budget-friendly option, consider Maxwell House Ready-to-Drink Iced Coffee. Maxwell House impressed us with this one, and at such a low price, it’s a great deal. On the other hand, if you don’t mind ponying up some extra money, BOSS Coffee’s Japanese Flash Brew is a truly unique experience you can’t get anywhere else.
Whether you’re looking for an everyday canned coffee or an emergency backup, we hope this guide has helped you find the right canned coffee for you!
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Table of Contents
- A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
- The 10 Best Canned Coffees – Reviews 2020
- 1. Starbucks Doubleshot Espresso + Cream– Best Overall
- 2. Maxwell House Ready-to-Drink Iced Coffee– Best Value
- 3. BOSS Coffee Japanese Flash Brew– Premium Choice
- 4. Starbucks Nitro Cold Brew
- 5. High Brew Cold Brew Coffee Black & Bold
- 6. RISE Brewing Co. Nitro Cold Brew Coffee
- 7. La Colombe Triple Draft Latte
- 8. Califia Farms Nitro Cold Brew Coffee
- 9. illy Ready-to-Drink Authentic Italian Coffee
- 10. Jay Street Coffee Coffee Shot
- Buyer’s Guide