I love a good strong cup of coffee with a little half and half. But deep down, I harbor a true fascination with coffee creamers. They can turn an afternoon cup into a sweet treat that satisfies the 3:00 p.m. office slump, they tempt me on road trips, transforming the stalest cup of Wawa coffee, and they beckon to me at the supermarket with seemingly endless varieties, limited editions, and holiday flavors. I can't help but wonder just what exactly Almond Mocha Crème tastes like.
Am I alone?
Well, the kind folks at Coffeemate helped make my dreams come true by sending over nearly every flavor in their lineup to try. (A note: I would not recommend sampling more that 4 kinds of Coffeemate in one day). Check out the winners and losers!
The 6 Best Flavors
I have to start with the basics. This stuff is sweet without anything more complicated, bringing to mind that quintessential 7-11 or Dunkin Donuts coffee creation. Like melted coffee ice cream. The gateway creamer, if you will.
There's something a bit more complex and a little richer about hazelnut when you compare it to vanilla, and it's a tiny bit less sweet. This is a basic version that gets the job done.
The scent of this could have been straight-up suntan lotion, but it was mild and appealing. The flavor is bold, though—super sweet and with big coconut flavor. (I'd be tempted to try it in a cocktail.) One of our tasters mentioned they wouldn't mind drinking this on its own, over ice.
Before the taste test, I had to wonder if the flavors would be differentiated enough—What is the point of all these flavors if they aren't distinct? I expected this to taste like French Vanilla, but was pleasantly surprised by the nutty addition.
Natural Bliss Sweet Cream
This new line of creamers is made with only a few ingredients: milk, cream, sugar and 'natural flavors'. This creamer is almost eggy-tasting; it's creamier than other the regular line of Coffeemate and has an appropriate—not excessive—sweetness. A one stop shop for "light and sweet" coffee done well.
Café Collection Hazelnut Latte
On viewing the bottle, I was skeptical that this would be any different from the regular hazelnut. How can latte flavor be bottled? Isn't the beauty of a latte the steamed milk, the velvety richness it imparts? Well, as long as you aren't expecting an actual latte, this flavor is a winner. It is richer and smoother than regular Hazelnut. It also lacks the strange aftertaste that coffee creamers can have, and all around is a bit more complex than other flavors. This is the best of what a coffee creamer should be. I went back for more of this after the official sampling was done, and that's saying something.
The 6 Worst Flavors
Original Coffeemate never really had a pull for me—why wouldn't I just use cream? This stuff didn't really impress: it's oddly thin, oily, and nothing at all like cream.
This super-sweet creamer has a harsh mint flavor, and we didn't detect much "mocha."
Overly sweet and eerily boozy, this won't be what we turn to when we're looking to make Irish coffee.
This creamer smells like strong cherry Chapstick. The flavor is very sweet and very strong, a little boozy-tasting and intense. We'll pass.
Cinnamon Vanilla Crème
I was excited about the prospect of cinnamon, but this creamer is like taking a big gulp of a Yankee Candle. It's holiday potpourri in your mug.
This creamer took me straight to that moment when you are gleefully experimenting with creamers (just me?), take a sip and realize you have gone too far. It's too sweet, there's a strange aftertaste and something oddly stale. I find that in general caramel "flavor" does not translate well, better to stick to the real deal.
Alright, maybe there were six losers, but now that I've discovered the Hazelnut Latte flavor, I won't apologize for loving the 'mate. Anyone with me? Do you secretly keep Coffeemate in your fridge? Got a favorite flavor?
About the author: Leandra Palermo is the Sales/Marketing coordinator at Serious Eats. She's not ashamed of her love for cereal and coffee creamer. (Not in the same bowl.)