Canned Coffee Carnival : Stōk Cold Brew Iced Coffee

Given the huge spike of high-end espresso shops that have popped up in every major urban center over the last few years, it should come as no surprise that American high-end coffees are starting to break into the bottled and canned scene as well. Prepackaged coffee presents a host of other difficulties when packed, all hinging on the notion of retaining precious fragile flavor compounds in the many additional stages from crop to cup.

A nice way of bypassing some of the trickiness of retaining hot coffee flavors is to look into cold brew coffees, which eschew the speed of extraction at higher temperatures for a more mellow flavor profile that can stand up to a little more punishment. Stōk Coffee, a company based in Broomfield, Colorado, took up this approach and put out a line of cold brew coffees. How did they turn out? Pretty well, actually!

Stōk Coffee’s drinks are explicitly billed as “Not Too Sweet.”

The price point for these coffee drinks was significantly higher than my previously reviewed products (at almost $4 apiece!) though the per-quantity price was comparable – you’re getting almost twice as much coffee per drink, so one bottle should be more than enough to get your day going. In addition, Stōk Coffee’s drinks are explicitly billed as “Not Too Sweet,” and indeed have almost half the sugar content of the more saccharine coffee drinks I’ve tried in the past. This decision is an extremely smart one on their part; cold brew coffee tends not to have as punchy flavors compared to its hot-brewed counterpart due to the much lower extraction of acids from beans at lower temperatures, and therefore necessitates a little more care to let its flavor nuances show up correctly.


Black

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  • Cost: $3.79 for 405mL (0.94¢/mL)
  • Sugar Content: 16g (39mg/mL, or 2.33 teaspoons per 8oz.)
  • Ingredients: Coffee, Cane Sugar, Natural Flavor.

The “plain” version of this product is, in my opinion, the best of the three – no-nonsense, fantastic coffee flavor. There’s no acidity or acridity to speak of here – a smooth, rich nutty flavor with perhaps a few cherry notes in there. The sugar content braces the flavors very well, rounding out the taste without overpowering it with cloying sweetness.

Mocha

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  • Cost: $3.79 for 405mL (0.94¢/mL)
  • Sugar Content: 20g (49mg/mL, or 2.92 teaspoons per 8oz.)
  • Ingredients: Coffee, Reduced Fat Milk, Cane Sugar, Cocoa, Natural Flavor, Salt.

The Mocha variety of the Stōk Cold Brews adds milk, a dash of cocoa powder, and some extra sugar, which ups the bitterness of the drink a shade to evoke the taste of, say, a high-end chocolate bar. While still delicious, I think the addition of the extra ingredients takes away from the experience somewhat, as the more subtle flavors that they were (successfully!) able to extract in their 10-hour steeping process was masked by the more standard and less interesting chocolate flavors that instead take the forefront. Still, if you’re a fan of chocolate, this drink is a very good choice, as you’ll get some good cocoa goodness without blowing your face off with sugar.

Vanilla

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  • Cost: $3.79 for 405mL (0.94¢/mL)
  • Sugar Content: 20g (49mg/mL, or 2.92 teaspoons per 8oz.)
  • Ingredients: Coffee, Reduced Fat Milk, Cane Sugar, Cocoa, Natural Flavor, Salt.

Similar to the Mocha variety, the Vanilla version of the Stōk Cold Brew is perfectly fine, but ultimately feels a little bit unnecessary. There still is a little bit of cocoa present in this version, enough to allow for the vanilla notes to better assert themselves. The relatively low sweetness once again allows for these flavors to lead the overall experience; however, like the Mocha variety I was left missing out on the nuanced coffee that had expected to begin with! Make no mistake, this is also a very tasty drink – just one that I feel could have been even better if Stōk Coffee had allowed for their great extractions to speak for themselves!


I had an overall extremely positive experience with this drink and I highly recommend trying them when you have the opportunity to – the premium is certainly worth it. This drink is clearly a beverage made by coffee enthusiasts for coffee enthusiasts, and exhibits a deftness in its flavors that I don’t normally see in bottled drinks. Give it a shot!

Until next time, take care. 🙂

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