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Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Trader Joe's Instant Cold Brew Coffee

Coffee demands honesty, so let's just get right to it:

Is there any truthful way I can persuade you that Trader Joe's Instant Cold Brew Coffee is, somehow, miraculously, an an actual legitimately good coffee option that'd make you want to either skip the drive thru, walk by the neighborhood shop or stash away your Mason jars and clear that shelf in your fridge?


It's not great coffee, by any stretch. To complicate things, it's not like there's an actual, tried and true recipe for success here. It's: grab a spoon, throw a scoopful-ish into 12oz of cold water, stir, sip. Too weak? Add more coffee. Too strong? Add more water. Sip. Repeat as necessary. I mean, sure, that's a way to do things, but when I'm tired and in a rush that necessitates resorting to instant friggerin' coffee, I have neither the time no the mental facilities to go full out Bill Nye and experiment my way into something resembling a passable cuppa joe. And pardon me for assuming, but that's likely a statement we'd share. Reliable, decent coffee is what we want and demand, and while there's probably a way to figure out how to make one with this particular cannister of powder, is it really worth the effort? 

I will give it this, though. I am somewhat of a cold brew snob. Why add to these hot, humid summer by swallowing down a steaming cup of coffee? Ugh. Many cold brews I have tasted, whether from a shop, a chain, or a prepackaged type deal, have had this unnecessarily bittersweet bite. Some even taste like tin. Yuck. The TJ's instant cold brew possesses none of that. It's just plain ol' boring coffee, kinda earthy and flat. But not flat earthy cuz that's just weird.  It lacks much of any description and is neither bold nor weak, neither sweet nor overly bitter, neither here nor there. I mean, it's not like that great cup of nitro cold brew from the neighborhood coffee shop, but it's not dirt and water either. It's just coffee, admittedly closer to Sanka than Starbucks, but still. Doctoring it up with cream and sweeteners may help if you're into that kinda thing. I'm not, so your mileage may vary. 

I'll keep it stashed away at my work desk, because if there's a true affront to coffee here, it's the work pot. Yikes. Need a change up every once in a while and this, not entirely unfortunately, will have to do. My lovely bride isn't going to bother with it and I don't blame her. I'll be nice and not completely trash the coffee - I mean, it is instant coffee, it's not like those Arabica beans chose this destiny for themselves, I'm not gonna hate on their existence, and at the end they still give me caffeine. 

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Instant Cold Brew Coffee: 4 out of 10 Golden Spoons


  1. The best use for this stuff is in plain yogurt with brown sugar and a pinch of salt.

  2. Hey I don't mean to be rude and I'm a big fan of the site but this review came off as a bit passive-aggressive and unfair. You didn't really get into the mixability of the cold brew, the effect it had on you caffeine-wise, etc. You spent a lot of time going on about convenience and experimentation (while exaggerating the effort it would take somebody to just stir a second spoonful of powder into a cup if one spoon wasn't strong enough) when for the purposes of the review you could have just judged everything based on the recommended serving size without adding more of anything. It's especially odd that you'd give a final score out of 10 despite your fiance not even trying it.

    Again I mean no offense but this one was just not very nice to read and felt written out of frustrated obligation. For what it's worth, I'm a bit of a cold brew (and especially nitro cold brew) guy myself, but I still really like this stuff in a pinch. It's super cheap - only $4 for 22 servings! - and I find that one serving, which is half a teaspoon, does the trick for me on most non-exhausted days. The powder mixes into water surprisingly easily which is fun, and it provides a nice solid buzz for several hours. It isn't revolutionary and the taste is average but I went and bought a second container of the stuff after drinking only a couple of cups from the first, overall if you're into this sort of thing it's definitely worth it in my opinion.

  3. For what it's worth, I'm a coffee snob and have gone through multiple jars of this, so your mileage may vary. Its big selling point is the same as for any jar of coffee powder, total portion control. Make as much or as little as strong or weak as you like. Great for when you finish your good coffee and want just a bit more.

    As for the "Cold Brew" aspect, I think the idea is that since dehydrating brewed coffee overcooks it and imparts a stale sour flavor, TJ's Instant Cold Brew improves it by brewing without heat so the dehydration does less damage to the flavor. To me it's smoother and less sour than most other instant coffees, though you'd never mistake it for fresh. My score 4/5 spoons.


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