Having a cold coffee drink on a hot day is like when Mario finds a mushroom — it makes you feel several times larger and capable of breaking those brick blocks when you jump into them. There are lots of cafes in Seattle doing amazing seasonal drinks that play with a wide variety of flavors, but sometimes you don’t have time to spend watching a barista drizzle pistachio syrup, or you may be trying to stock up on high-quality brew before road-tripping through a craft coffee desert.
That’s where canned coffee comes into play. Its become increasingly common in the past decade for coffee roasters to package their cold brew into cans (Portland’s Stumptown was a relatively early adopter in 2015), and unsurprisingly Seattle’s local roasters have gotten into the game. With few exceptions these cold brews are unflavored and sometimes s-t-r-o-n-g, so buyer beware. Here’s a few of our favorites:
Caffe Vita’s Cold Brew Classic
Founded in 1995, Vita is the oldest roaster on this list and unsurprisingly this cold brew is old-school, dark and smooth. If you put it on ice in a glass with some milk we certainly wouldn’t be mad. Or in a pinch, you could pour some half and half into the can at a highway rest stop. These cans are widely available in grocery stores and at Vita locations.
Olympia Coffee’s Nitro Cold Brew
Nitrogen-infused coffee, which is smoother and sweeter than typical cold brew, was a hot trend a few years ago (“hot trend,” get it?). This can of nitro cold brew from Olympia, one of Seattle’s top roasters, is notably creamy, with some hints of sweetness. All those bubbles discourage you from drinking it fast, but you might as well savor it. This, like Vita, is available in some grocery stores.
Seattle Strong’s Bright Nitro Cold Brew
Seattle Strong was originally a business school project at the University of Washington but has since become a full-fledged company; unlike the other roasters on this list, it specializes in canned coffee and doesn’t operate cafes. (It can be found in grocery stores including Metropolitan Market.) We went with the “bright” version of Seattle Strong’s cold brew, and it’s less full-bodied than the Olympia. The can says there are notes of lemon and coconut in this blend, but mostly we just get crispness and light.
Fulcrum’s Silver Cup Cold Brew Coffee
This isn’t a nitro cold brew, but the coffee itself has a rich, almost caramel taste, with nutty and berry flavors. This is a real luxurious coffee, and you’d definitely only need one can (or maybe a half can) to get through the afternoon. The best place to find this is at a Fulcrum location. (The name Silver Cup comes one of the roasters that merged to become Fulcrum in 2012.)
Watson’s Counter’s Single-Origin Cold Brew
Watson’s Counter is an oddity, a Korean-influenced brunch spot in Ballard that doubles as a coffee roaster. The single-origin Ethiopia had the most unique flavor profile of any of the cold brews we sampled — it’s herbal, fruity, and tea-like, common characteristics of Ethiopian beans. This is a great option if you’re not usually into canned cold brew. Get it at Watson’s Counter itself.
Caffè Umbria’s Espresso Spritz
We’re changing it up on you here — this isn’t cold brew but espresso and Italian soda. So it’s carbonated, and a lot sweeter than the other cans on this list. (Duh it’s sweeter, it’s the only can that has any sugar in it.) The nice thing about an espresso spritz is that the soda cuts nicely through the coffee notes, so what you get is almost coffee-flavored cola, with some vanilla notes.