My first memory of coffee is of the diner coffee my parents ordered at restaurants in the 80’s. You know the type, that sits on a warming plate between servings, seemingly for days (at least that’s how it tasted). An even less appealing memory was the coffee I drank in the Army (with chunks of real coffee!). The worst thing that could happen to either of these coffees were for them to get cold.
Fast forward to today, with us being spoiled for years from coffee shops being available in airports to grocery stores and everywhere in between. Restaurants are serving gourmet coffee. What’s more, cold-brew coffee is now a thing! High Brew Coffee, headquartered in Austin, TX, offers a selection of cold-brew coffees. Their choice of coffee is 100% fair trade, and it’s used to make a variety of drinks. I decided to review these peculiar products, their cold coffees in cans, to see if they’re any better than what I drank out of a canteen in the Army.
What I would expect to be their lead drink, the Double Espresso does not disappoint. This drink provides a strong espresso taste, but not so much as if you’re drinking a cold double shot of espresso served from a forgetful barista. Why not? Two reasons: first, the cold-brew process makes for a less bitter cup of coffee. Second, this espresso has a bit of reduced-fat milk. Wait – if this espresso drink has milk, why isn’t it called Double Cappuccino? This I don’t know. There’s probably a reason. Either way, this is drink I’d consider most widely accepted, and what I’ll use to compare to the others.
Mexican Vanilla: taking the addition of milk, and throwing in some ice cream flavor for good measure. I’m a fan of the Mexican vanilla at Amy’s Ice Creams, but my focus here is on the coffee. Sure, the Mexican vanilla taste is good, but what’s more important is the ice cream isn’t taking over. I am drinking cold coffee with the taste of ice cream. As someone who’s not a fan of drinking dessert from the fancy coffee shops, I’m glad this doesn’t taste like a coffee-flavored ice cream drink. Being that this does taste like ice cream, however, it’s a little too sweet so for my liking and might be better as an occasional treat rather than a go-to drink.
I’ll say this right now: this is my favorite of the lot. Sure, I said I don’t care for the fanciccinos made of a shopping list of requests, that would make Denis Leary cringe. But this is salted caramel. This combination is already one of my favorites, and now it’s in a cold coffee made of fewer ingredients than most canned drinks I’d take on a road trip. The coffee used in all varieties doesn’t taste as bitter as normal coffee does when it’s become cold, so the salt in this drink actually helps offset the sweeter taste. I could only dream of a giant water feeder bottle, but instead of water for a hamster, Salted Caramel for me, with the spout positioned above my laptop.
Dark Chocolate Mocha
Dark chocolate is used here, giving it a more potent taste than what I’d expect from a mocha. This works better for a cold coffee, since I had initial thoughts that my first impression would be that it would taste like chocolate milk. The chocolate does have a certain underlying taste that could just be the variety of chocolate, that I cannot place. Seems like one of those fancy dark chocolates behind a glass display. I don’t normally care for mochas, as the chocolate overpowers the coffee. The chocolate flavor of the Dark Chocolate Mocha also takes center stage, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. If you like mochas, but find that other cold mocha made by a company that shares their name with a Battlestar Galactica to be too sweet, then this is the drink for you.
Dairy-Free Black & Bold
The Dairy-Free Black & Bold is High Brew Coffee’s newest drink. For it, I’ve also included the thoughts from the site designer for The Zarf, who’s also a great friend of mine, and a vegan!
Logan Braman: “The coffee was certainly bold, but perhaps a bit too much for my taste. The flavor was right on the edge of bitter despite the sweetening agent included in the recipe. The level of sweetness was nice so the shortcomings I tasted all came down to the coffee itself. Overall the Black and Bold was drinkable but it won’t become a habit for me.”
We discussed this particular coffee during our morning jog, during which time he mentioned that he’s normally a tea drinker. This made me wonder: should “Dairy-Free” be before the title of Black & Bold? Should High Brew Coffee advertise their boldest drink to those looking for a dairy-free option? I asked for his thoughts on this drink because it’s the only one he can drink, so naturally it’s going to be marketed as acceptable for vegans. I just wonder if this could be accomplished with something more towards the middle of the spectrum.
My opinions on Black & Bold, much like his thoughts on the coffee, are not as harsh. I actually liked this coffee for much of the same reasons Logan did not. As someone who has at times contained more coffee than some pantries, I found this to be refreshing. There’s a hint of bitterness, which is welcomed as something to be expected of coffee. This is minimal in comparison, though, due to the brewing process and sugar added. I would go for this not because it’s touted as dairy-free, but because it’s a solid contender for a cold-brewed coffee that doesn’t taste overly sweet or have any other flavors besides their delicious coffee.
I would never have thought that coffee, intentionally cold and in a can, would be such a treat. High Brew Coffee offers an assortment of delicious drinks that are sure to contain at least one option for anyone who appreciates a cup of coffee with a brisk twist.