Taste Test: Canned Coffee Energy Drinks

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[Photographs: Jessica Leibowitz]

The Best Coffee Energy Drinks

#1: Whynatte Latte
#2: Shock Coffee Triple Latte

Note: Proceed with caution. Highest score was less than 5 out of 10.

We probably should have known better than to embark on a taste test of 9 different canned coffee energy drinks, but we were curious (and a few of the brands we tasted when trying to figure out the best ready-to-drink canned coffee also offered an added-energy version.)

The surprise? These weren't actually much worse tasting than any of the regular canned coffees we tried. It could be that coffee adequately covers up whatever makes energy drinks gross, and that milky coffee drinks are a good medium for added-buzz ingredients.

That said, we felt a bit weird after trying nine of them in a blind taste test, and none of these scored even 5 points (out of 10) for flavor. We don't highly recommend any of these beverages, but if you're in a pinch, they'll wake you up.

The Contenders

The Criteria

We tasted 9 different canned coffee energy drinks in a blind taste test and evaluated them on coffee flavor, sweetness, off-flavors, and aftertaste. None of the drinks scored even 5 points out of 10, due to a flaws such as weird savory flavors, oily coconut notes, earthiness and sourness, and intense oversweetness.

The Best of the Bunch

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Whynatte Latte (4.2/10)
In a normal taste test, 4.2 would be a pretty low score, but it's the best these got. Tasters felt this had an unappealing sour flavor and slight unpleasant aftertaste, but said it "wasn't that bad...sweet and drinkable."

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Shock Coffee Triple Latte (4/10)
Sweet but not crazy-sweet, this had a slightly stale flavor, but tasters said they'd drink it again, which wasn't a common reaction during this taste test. The Shock Mocha didn't fare quite as well, earning 3.7 points out of 10. Tasters found it oddly savory and unappealing.

And the Rest

Starbucks Doubleshot Coffee + Energy

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The Coffee version scored 3.7 points out of 10, with tasters mostly dinging it for too much sweetness. Vanilla scored 3.6/10. Though some tasters found it drinkable, all complained that the vanilla flavor was too artificial-tasting. The Vanilla Light scored 2.9/10; tasters felt it was too syrupy sweet, with a strong aspartame-like flavor. Mocha came in at the bottom of the heap, with a score of 2.7/10. Tasters found it earthy tasting and oddly perfumey.


Adina Natural Highs Coffee Energy Drinks

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We preferred the Caramel version of this drink, which we found at Whole Foods, but it only scored 2/10. Tasters found it watery and oversweet, with strange fruity flavors that didn't meld with the whole. The Hazelnut Hook Up reminded us of sunscreen, with intense coconut flavors. It scored 1.4/10.

Do you drink coffee energy drinks? Have any brands you recommend?

More Taste Tests

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