We tasted 20 different canned and bottled ready-to-drink coffees to figure out if any of them were bearable. The answer? Barely.
Seattle's Best offers two winners. The Iced Mocha came out on top of our tasting, with tasters praising its balance and drinkability. We liked the Iced Latte, too, but we'll on the vanilla version, which was too dairy-heavy and reminded some tasters of dehydrated s'mores.
The Espresso & Cream scored pretty well, though some found it too sour and overextracted. The Light version had some real coffee flavor, but it tasted overly burnt and was a little watery.
The Cafe con Leche came out near the top of our tasting, though were reminded of Splenda (and Nesquick.) The Mocha version was a flop, though: tasters noticed rubbery off-flavors, burnt notes, and sourness.
Of the Illy offerings, the Latte Macchiato came out on top. Though it was a little watery, tasters praised its prominent coffee flavor, and said they'd actually drink it again (which wasn't that common in this lineup.) The Cappuccino version was offputtingly thick, with some stale flavors. There were a few fans of the Caffé version, though some noted that it tasted like coffee that sat around too long, and would only appeal to those who like their coffee black.
These were a little disappointing. The Caffè Latte was watery, with too many off-flavors. The Mocha scored even worse, with tasters criticizing its bitterness and muddy flavors.
Wolfgang Puck Iced Coffee
The café au lait version scored the highest of the bunch, but it had a slightly perfumey vanilla flavor that some tasters disliked. The caramel was artificial tasting, the vanilla was achingly sweet, and the mocha was a bit chalky.
Starbucks Bottled Frappucinos
The bottled Coffee Frappuccino was mild and milky, but some tasters noted a cardboard-like flavor they didn't like. The vanilla version was quite sweet, without enough coffee punch. The caramel version reminded some tasters of vanilla salt water taffy and butterscotch, and was just too sweet to drink in any volume. The mocha version came out on top of the bottled Starbucks options, but tasters still found it too stale-tasting to recommend.