Starbucks’ Cold Brew Iced Coffee Now Available Nationwide! Just How Good Is It?

07/07/2015 at 06:00 AM ET

Starbucks Cold Brew
Rennie Dyball

Update! Big news, cold brew lovers: After a highly successful regional launch in the spring, Starbucks’ Cold Brew will now be a permanent menu item in all its stores nationwide.

WHAT IS IT: Starbucks’ new Cold Brew Iced Coffee

WHO TRIED IT: Rennie Dyball, senior editor, @renniedyball

WHY WE DID IT: Iced coffee doesn’t need a reason.

“Hi! Can I write about how much I LOOOOOOOVVVVVVE Starbucks’ new small batch cold brew?”

That’s the email I wrote to my Great Ideas colleagues last week—clearly caffeinated and eager to share the joy of this new coffee with our readers.

I’ve been drinking it for a couple weeks now and I’m even more convinced that Starbucks Cold Brew is the best iced coffee out there—even better than other cold brews. What makes it so special?

Two things you should know first: One, I’m not just falling for good marketing here. The poster featuring iced coffee being poured into a sweaty mason jar at the front of my local store is certainly appealing, but this isn’t another Flat White situation (sorry, Starbucks, but personally, I think it’s just a latte with good p.r.).

Starbucks Cold Brew
Rennie Dyball

Two, I am a former barista and a year-round iced coffee drinker. I have it on good authority that Anderson Cooper is too, by the way.

But this particular brew is easily the best I’ve ever tried, and luckily, it’s landed on the permanent menu in 2,800 stores. It’s got everything I love about iced coffee, intensified: it’s colder, smoother and creamier than your typical cup.

You may be asking how one iced coffee can be colder than another. I am actually wondering the same thing, but I operate in words, not science. Drinking regular iced coffee vs. this cold brew is like the difference between drinking a cold beer and an ice-cold beer. You take a sip and it feels like your tongue and the inside of your mouth stay chilled for longer — like a cool breeze that ripples through you. I can’t wait to have it on a really hot summer day.

It’s also decidedly smoother than typical iced coffees. This particular Starbucks blend is designed to be served cold. Baristas grind and scoop small batches into delicate filters where the grounds are saturated with cool water instead of the traditional hot and then left to steep for 20 hours. Michelle Sundquist, a longtime member of the brand’s research and development team (she helped create my new obsession), tells PEOPLE, “Unlike traditional iced coffee, time replaces heat to extract the coffee, which allows it to develop a naturally sweeter taste and a smooth finish.”

A typical Starbucks iced coffee and plenty of other brands are made by double-brewing hot coffee and placing it in a refrigerator for many hours, bringing the temperature down and then pouring over ice. (Some other establishments simply pour hot coffee over ice and call it iced coffee. I don’t have enough room in this article to explain all that’s wrong with that method.) Due to the more labor-intensive process of making cold brew — and the fact that twice as much coffee is used to make it — it will run you about 60 cents more than regular Starbucks iced coffee.

Finally, there is a chocolate-y, creamy finish to this coffee that I haven’t found anywhere else — not even in other cold-brewed iced coffees. And if you add a little milk and sugar like I do, the coffee takes on almost a milkshake-like taste, but without the guilt (just 5 calories unsweetened). Starbucks, you nailed it this time.

Have you tried Starbucks’ new Cold Brew? Do you think it’s the best around? Tell us in the comments below.


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Showing 18 comments

deleted on

I completely agree!!!

I went from daily hot lattés to iced coffee about a year ago.

Now I’m a cold brew convert and since Starbucks is putting a higher price on cold brew, I’ve started making it myself with A toddy maker. It works perfectly and keeps my visit to Sbux down to about 3x a week instead of 7.

Smithy on

Yes yes and yes!!!

As a devoted iced coffee fan, I find the cold brew to be far better…..except for the price. For that reason I’ve started making it myself with a toddy maker, Starbucks grounds and their syrup. It is perfection.

seabot on

Now if they’d just find a way to offer decaf iced coffee…

Karen on

Totally agree!!! They make the very best “Ice Coffee” and with the warm summer season comin in this is the best to cool off!

Kathryn on

I love coffee, but find it can be too acidic if not done right. In the summer, I always have a carafe of iced coffee in my fridge. I’ll let mine steep over night and when I’m feeling fancy, I add cocoa powder, a dash of sugar, a dash of salt, and vanilla extract. Sometimes cinnamon. As long as I make sure it stir it thoroughly and strain it, I get super smooth coffee. I normally just use Cafe Bustelo, which is not a fancy roast or anything crazy special, but it works for me.

cp on

I have gone to 5 different Starbucks trying to find the cold brew and every time I ask, they look at me like I am speaking in tongues. I truly wish I can find it.

prycer on

I have been to 5 different Starbucks and cannot find the cold brew. Every time I ask they look at me as if I am speaking another language.

Swag Valance on

You’ve never had cold brewed coffee made anywhere else before, have you.

I can tell.

Rachel Rat on

This is a paid ad by Starbucks

Amal on

TACKY!!! People USED to be a classier tabloid, but it is so trashy with fake ADVERTISEMENTS like this that they make look like stories. After 35 years, I’m done. I rather go to the Daily Mail for updated stories. No one works this website on the weekends, the stories are old, can’t even get journalistic facts correct- there IS NO PRINCESS KATE, and tired of the stupid Duggar and Kardashian stories

ChefMoT on

Cold Brew coffee was invented in New Orleans 30 years ago by a coffee shop called PJ’s. All of our local coffee shops have carried this for as long as I can remember. PJ’s also invented frappachinos (we call them Granitas here!)

Good job Starbucks for taking all of the credit and bankrupting small mom and pop coffee shops across America.

professionalsabroad on

I tried the Cold Brew Iced Coffee a few months ago and I haven’t’ gone back!

sbux on

I enjoy a Starbucks coffee every once in a while, however take a closer look at this coffee giant and you may not want to partake. Starbucks states that it takes care of its employees first, provides benefits, all good things right. Well, actually if you don’t perform you will be placed on a PIP and then removed or demoted as they see fit. The managers and supervisors are numbers oriented, and it does not matter what is going on personally there is little to no concern about you as an individual it is all about the bottom line. Don;t get me wrong, companies have to make money, but don’t say that you are employees first, when you are not.

Kat on

This is the worst iced coffee I have ever had… typical Starbucks and bitter to the end. Anyone who thinks Starbucks coffee is the best around knows nothing about good coffee.

Swag Valance on

It’s great that you can’t tell the difference between news and advertising as well

Sarah on

I agree with everything. EVERYTHING. Cold brew is amazing and so hard to find where I am without driving forty or so miles. But…..worth it.

Juan Miguel @Starbucks Cold Brew on

It used to be that Starbucks had a specific type of coffee for their iced coffee. Baristas would brew the coffee double strength, and then dilute it with ice. And, then it would be served with more ice.

Diane on

I tried it last summer for the first time. Unfortunately, its only available in the summer. I have been asking for it for the last month and its not in yet. I wish they carried it year round. When it comes in I’m going to stock up!

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