Hello. My name's Nathan, and I love Trader Joe's. My wife Sonia does too. She's a great shopper, has excellent taste and knows good value when she comes across it. As many of you know, Trader Joe's is unsurpassed in the world of good-value grocery stores, so we spend a lot of our time and money there. Although the store fairly consistently delivers great taste with its own unique line of food products, there are definitely some big-hits, and unfortunately, there are some misses...

After doing a couple of internet searches for reviews of TJ's food items, Sonia discerned an apparent dearth of good, quality reviews for the store's offerings. So, at her suggestion, we decided to embark on a journey of systematically reviewing every Trader Joe's product, resulting in the blog you are about to read...

A couple of months into our Trader Joe's rating adventure, an old college friend, Russ, who unbeknownst to me had been following our TJ's blog, decided that I had been slacking in my blogging duties (which, of course, I was) so he decided to contribute his own original TJ's reviews to the blog, thus enhancing it, making it more complete and adding to it a flavor of his own. He and his wife Sandy are also avid TJ's fans and, as you will soon discover, he is an excellent writer and is nearly as clever, witty and humble as I am.

Seriously though, Russ: You go, boy!

So here it is: "What's Good at Trader Joe's?"

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Thursday, June 2, 2016

Trader Joe's Organic French Roast Cold Brew Coffee Concentrate

It's freakin' June already. Which is fine, I guess. June is good enough of a month. One of the highlights of June (other than no longer being subjected to Alexander Ovechkin's ugly mug since his season is long done, as is usual by now) is <insert drumroll effect>...it's officially iced coffee season!

When it's hot, hot coffee just makes it stickier than it has to be. But you can't just give up coffee. And please...iced coffee is not just regular coffee with ice in it. I've tried doing that, and the results are diluted murky brown tepid water. Nah, you gotta go cold brew to do this properly. Some people, by the wizardry of either French presses or cheesecloths, claim it's simple to make your own cold brew batches. Others, like me, think it's easier to shell out $3 or $4 for a large cupful. That obviously gets spendy quickly. So, for the MYO-inept crowd who would to enjoy some cold caffeine while saving a couple bucks, things like Trader Joe's Organic French Roast Cold Brew Coffee Concentrate seem like a good enough of a deal. $9.99 seems like an okay enough price to swallow for at least eight cups, right?

What's not easy to swallow: if you get the proportions wrong. Sandy preferred to mix her coffee in with some almond milk "beverage" (as pictured - as a bonus you can watch it swirl around!) while I did mine straight up with water. Either liquid worked fine, but if the ratio was even the smidgiest of smidges off the 2:1 balance of liquid base to coffee concentrate...ugh. Either it tasted a watery mess if too weak, or like motor oil if too strong. Speaking of motor oil: Don't bother taking a sip of it straight on. I tried in the name of science. It was a bad idea. The bottle says there's over half a pound of beans used in making this...yeah, it definitely tastes like that. Woo.

Other than that: Yes. I haven't tried TJ's other cold brew concoction to make a direct comparision, but as would be expected for French roast, this is a darker, heavier, fairly robust roast. In some ways, this is a great thing for iced coffee, because the stronger potency would withstand the inevitable ice meltoff a little better. I'm pretty happy drinking it black, while Sandy was happy enough with the taste that I think she skipped adding any sugar to hers....she may have snuck in some flavored creamer though (ugh).

Sandy and I were able to get plenty enough cups out of it to make our ten buck investment seem just about worth it. Sadly, there was a cup or two we ended up dumping and redoing, because of measurements being a little off, and by trying to fix things, we somehow made them even worse. That's really the only demerit here - if there could be somehow just be a little more built-in grace, that'd be great. Also, we're really not sure why it costs an extra $2 over its lighter, more normal counterpart...eh well. Different roast, and organic, sure, but still.

Enjoy an icy glass as the summer starts up. Or try it Ovechkin-style - no cup. In any case, this cold caffeinited concentrated concoction could be your summer sipper of choice.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Organic French Roast Cold Brew Coffee Concentrate: 8 out of 10 Golden Spoons


  1. Oh, I'm glad you did a review of this one. I've been hesitant to give it a try. But it seems like a nice summer drink ... as long as I don't try to deviate from the required proportions.

  2. Well.. LOL... in the land of Starbucks and numerous other coffee houses $9.99 seems like a great deal since a 16 ounce iced coffee drink is often close to $5 for 2-3 weak shots of espresso.

  3. If you *are* interested in trying to make your own, it's not very hard at all. I have had great success with the Pioneer Woman recipe (http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/perfect-iced-coffee/) - I usually halve it and make a gallon pitcher at a time. Cheers!

    1. Yes!!!! Totally recommend using the cafe bustelo that she does and of course the sweetened condensed milk.

  4. I prefer the taste of the regular over the French Roast. The $2 price difference is because one is organic, and one is not.