For many New Englanders, drinking iced coffee even in the dead of winter is a point of pride, maybe even a cultural norm. As a coffee drinker in Massachusetts, I am no exception. As you may or may not know if you’ve been following along with my Instagram page for a while, I am a massive fan of cold brew coffee year-round. It’s delicious, caffeinated (of course), and often less acidic than iced coffee– what’s not to love? Well, as you may know if you’ve ever ordered cold brew at a Starbucks, sometimes the price tag can be steep. That’s why I’ve been so excited about both making my own cold brew at home in a pitcher or French press and also trying cans of cold brew and nitro cold brew. I love the café experience, but a can is such a nice way to bring a high-quality coffee experience conveniently right to my house, often for a little cheaper!
I’ve done a lot of delicious “research” (read: scanning grocery store shelves, scouring the internet and sampling dozens of cans of cold brew coffee) so far in my quest to try a broad range of cold brew. I’ve tried cold brew concentrates from national chains, homemade cold brew, and local small-batch brews, but I’ve settled in on cans as one of my favorite ways to enjoy. As a current college student, I find cans to be very dorm-friendly and convenient. In my cold brew journey thus far, I’ve discovered so many local cold brew offerings from New England alone! One of my goals in 2021– and throughout the pandemic, really– has been to support and highlight local businesses as much as possible, since in general, they were hit a lot harder by the pandemic. That’s why I’m so excited to share with you a handful of New England coffee companies absolutely rocking the cold brew market. Get ready for the cold (brew) hard truth– at least, in my opinion– as I talk flavor, caffeine content and more.
NOBL Beverages Cold Brew
Currently based in Seabrook, New Hampshire but available all over New England (and beyond!), NOBL Beverages is a relatively new beverage company that has been expanding its reach a lot since its 2015 founding at a UNH entrepreneurial competition. I saw NOBL for the first time on the shelves at the Concord Market (which, by the way, carries a ridiculously amazing selection of coffee from some of the best local roasters around if you’re ever in the area) and was so excited about the delicious cold brew latte flavors they offered. I mean, a snickerdoodle latte? I almost couldn’t believe I could bring that flavor home– it was something so unique, you don’t even often see it on most cafe menus. NOBL was kind enough to send me a mixed pack of flavors to sample, so I can comment on pretty much all of their specialty flavors.
Even as I was drinking it, I almost couldn’t believe how smooth and balanced the black cold brew tasted. I even drank an entire can black, and normally milk in my coffee is non-negotiable. Also so impressed by their cold brew latte cans, especially that aforementioned snickerdoodle flavor, which had a lovely creaminess and the perfect hint of cinnamon without being overly sweet.
All in all, I was thoroughly impressed. I’ll be keeping an eye out for NOBL’s nitro teas in the future as well.
Liv’s Superlatives: Smoothest Taste Black and Most Creative Flavor
LOCO Cold Brew
One of the first canned cold brews I ever tried was LOCO Cold Brew, which is based out of Boston. Loco offers two flavors: cold brew made with maple water and cold brew made with coconut water. I was lucky enough to pick up their maple flavor in the grocery store on my own this past summer. Because of the inherent subtle maple flavor in the coffee, it tasted great on its own, but also worked really nicely with milk and sugar, as is my usual cold brew preference. I also had the chance to work with them this winter and finally try their coconut water flavor– also quite refreshing. As far as coffee drinks go, Loco’s nutritional profile was also quite good. Both flavors included healthy electrolytes and packed a super-caffeinated punch at over 200 mg a can, without any added sugars, which makes Loco a very customizable base to which you can add milk and sugar to your preference. I’ve previously made a reel hyping up LOCO and sharing my experience if you want to see me in action!
Liv’s Superlative: Most Unique Taste Black
A community-focused coffee shop in South Windsor, CT, Birdhouse was founded in 2019 by Steve and Lori Palauskas. I am so excited about their focus on small-batch roasting, craft coffee, and being a community gathering spot (even during very challenging COVID times). When Birdhouse reached out to me to see if I would be interested in sampling their recently-launched cold brew coffee cans, I was very quick to enthusiastically agree. I mean, with roast notes like raspberry and dark chocolate? Sign me up!
True to their community and customer-focused mission, even just upon receiving my package in the mail, I was so impressed by their attention to detail. They really thought of everything! Birdhouse included a delightful personalized note, paper straws to sip with (yay for sustainability), super fun packing confetti, and of course, the star of the show: the cold brew.
Not only was the packaging absolutely gorgeous, but the flavor was also amazing. I first had a few sips of their cold brew black and was wowed by the way the roast came through– strong, but not acidic at all. Normally, I favor medium to light roasts, but this medium-dark roast worked so well for me. Once I supplemented with a splash of oat milk, which added a really wonderful creaminess without drowning out the flavor, I really felt like I could be at the cafe even while sipping at home. I liked that Birdhouse produced a cold brew that wasn’t too sweet– super customizable to individual preference. Hats off to them! I’m definitely paying more attention to the Connecticut coffee scene in the future.
Liv’s Superlative: Strongest Brew
Sah.ol Cold Brew
Sah.ol is a new, small-batch cold brew company founded by a recent Bentley grad and based in Massachusetts. I was stoked to see it on the shelves of the Concord Market, a local specialty grocery. Compared to the other cold brews I sampled, this brew was almost golden in color when poured and had a pleasant, mellow flavor, while still delivering a hefty dose of caffeine. This is a cold brew that isn’t too overpowering, and probably one I would have someone try if they insisted they didn’t like cold brew because the flavor is approachable. I appreciated its sugar-free nature and once I added some milk, Sah.ol’s cold brew made for an ideal start to my day.I’m excited to see them grow as more and more stores begin to stock their product.
Liv’s Superlative: The Crowd-Pleaser
Next up on my list to try:
Atomic Coffee Roasters
I’ve been following Atomic Coffee Roasters on Instagram for ages, ever since I realized one of my favorite local cafes, Nashoba Bakery in Concord, MA, served their coffee. Their coffee is served at a multitude of coffee shops around Massachusetts and also found on the shelves at many local grocery stores. Atomic has a café in Beverly and a roastery in Salem, MA in addition to offering canned cold brew on their website. While at the time of this post, I still haven’t cracked open a can, I can’t wait to finally try cold brew from a local family business that has been on my radar for a while now. Atomic offers both an original cold brew can and a nitro infused coffee. Nitro cold brew has been getting a lot of hype recently, and I certainly understand why. The infusion of nitrogen adds a really nice, smooth flavor to the coffee and even a little bit of foam at the top! Similar to their bagged coffee for at-home brewing, the packaging of Atomic’s cold brew cans is minimalist and executed to perfection, in a really class black-and-white design.
Atomic’s cold brew is a blend of coffees from different regions, resulting in a wonderful mix of tasting notes: clementine, nougat, and burnt sugar. Their nitro has a slightly different flavor profile, with notes of orange zest, chocolate, and pecan. If I can feel like a coffee connoisseur writing this out as a relative newbie to the specialty coffee scene, I think it’s a sign that the sipping experience to come is promisingly high-quality.
Let me know in the comments if there are any cold brews that I missed that deserve to be sampled! Have you tried any of these flavors? Curious to hear your thoughts– maybe I’ll ultimately do another New England coffee roundup in the future.