If you have the gear and a bit of time, it’s not that hard to make your own coffee at home. But, not everyone has the gear, the time, or wants to in the first place. Some of us wake up and are instantly thrown into the thick of things, whether it’s work, family, or both. If that’s you, we’d like to introduce you to your new best friend: canned coffee.
It’s important to have a sense of your options, though. There are plain black coffee cans, which are great for throwing over ice. There are “nitro” options, which have been infused with a bit of nitrogen gas for a silky texture. There are lots of sweetened and flavored options, too. There are even lattes, both the dairy and the non-dairy kind. We sorted through the options and found the best of every sort.
Boss Coffee Flash Brew Original Cold Black Coffee
Flash brewed for improved flavor
No added sugar
Drink hot or cold
Some say the cans are flimsy
From the famed Japanese whisky conglomerate Suntory (the name behind Jim Beam, Maker's Mark, Laphroaig, and more) comes this excellent canned coffee. It's created by a flash-brewing process that, while not one-of-a-kind, helps separate it from many competitors. The method involves brewing coffee beans at a hot temperature to unlock maximum flavor and then quickly chilling the beverage before it becomes bitter. That's why every sip in Boss Coffee's Flash Brew Cold Black Coffee tastes so smooth.
Each can is eight ounces and contains 140 milligrams of caffeine, roughly a double shot of espresso. Boss Coffee also offers its flash-brewed java with milk in its Café au Lait option or with milk and sugar in its Rainbow Mountain Blend.
Price at time of publish: $49 for 12 cans
Size: 8 ounces | Caffeine: 140 milligrams | Calories: 10 | Sugar: 0 grams | Contains Dairy: No
Rise Brewing Co. Oat Milk Nitro Cold Brew Latte
Rich and creamy
Available in two sizes
Average amount of caffeine
Coffee flavor diluted by milk
Rise offers a line of nitro-infused coffee drinks, from a classic latte to oat milk mochas. We love the oat milk latte cans for their real latte vibes. For one thing, each can has about the same amount of caffeine as one shot of espresso, making it ideal for those who need caffeine but are a bit sensitive to it at the same time. The Rise Nitro Oat Milk Latte also has fewer calories and less sugar than other canned oat milk lattes. If you love oat milk lattes from your local coffee shop, this is the closest canned version we’ve found.
Price at time of publish: $40 for 12 cans (7 ounces)
Size: 7 ounces | Caffeine: 70 milligrams | Calories: 110 | Sugar: 7 grams | Contains Dairy: No
Best Cold Brew
High Brew Cold Brew Coffee
Low in acidity
High in caffeine
Some say it lacks flavor
This High Brew Cold Brew Coffee can offers the classic cold brew experience: extra caffeine (the equivalent of two normal cups of coffee), super low acidity, and a very drinkable brew. This is also a great option to drink straight from the refrigerated can, as some say that it dilutes too quickly with ice. If you like punchy cold brew with subtle flavors, grab a can of this one and get sipping.
Price at time of publish: $27 for 12 cans
Size: 8 ounces | Caffeine: 130 to 150 milligrams | Calories: 10 | Sugar: 0 grams | Contains Dairy: No
Sail Away Coffee Nitro Cold Brew Cans
High caffeine content
More expensive than some others
Looking for a super smooth cuppa (canna?) joe? Meet Sail Away Coffee Nitro Cold Brew Coffee Cans. The proprietary South American blend gets even smoother thanks to the cold brewing process and shot of nitrogen gas. It claims to be 60 percent less acidic than the standard cup of hot coffee, and it has the same caffeine as three espresso shots.
Price at time of publish: $28 for 6 cans
Size: 11.5 ounces | Caffeine: 220 milligrams | Calories: 0 | Sugar: 0 grams | Contains Dairy: No
Best With Espresso
Black Stag Espresso With Cream Canned Coffee
Great price point
May be too creamy for some
If you like your coffee rich, creamy, and flavorful, the Black Stag Coffee Pre-Made Espresso with Cream will be your vibe. It’s a bold and decadent way to treat yourself at the onset of a long day. The cans are reasonably priced and typically sold in a 12-count box, so you won't run out of coffee any time soon. If you don’t like strong espresso or half and half in your coffee, this may be too much for you, but those who love rich, strong flavors will be very into it.
Price at time of publish: $33
Size: 6.5 ounces | Caffeine: Information unavailable | Calories: 120 | Sugar: 17 grams | Contains Dairy: Yes
La Colombe Vanilla Draft Latte
Mixed reviews on "sip-thru" lid
Flavored-latte lovers can enjoy a sweet treat on the go with La Colombe's multiple draft lattes. The brand offers mocha, caramel, and pumpkin spice for flavored options, along with our favorite, vanilla. Customers say the vanilla is noticeable in every sip but not overwhelmingly sweet (a drawback that occurs all too often with flavored coffee drinks). La Colombe uses nitrous-infused cold brew to create a similar richness and creaminess to regular coffeehouse lattes, although it isn't quite as thick. Each can is 9 ounces, which is in the middle as far as canned coffees go. The milk is lactose free and the item is shelf-stable overall.
Price at time of publish: $40 for 12 cans
Size: 9 ounces | Caffeine: 115 milligrams | Calories: 100 | Sugar: 12 grams | Contains Dairy: Yes
UCC Hawaii Kona Blend Coffee With Milk
Sweet and creamy flavor
Larger than average capacity
Drink hot or cold
High sugar content
Cans often damaged in shipping
Hawaii is famous for its coffee, and this one may just convert you forever. The UCC Hawaii Kona Blend Coffee With Milk is special for a few reasons beyond being delicious. It’s sweetened without being too sweet and has milk without being too milky. It’s appropriate to drink hot or cold, which is rare for canned coffee. Some reviewers say that theirs arrived dented or damaged, but if you’re willing to take the risk (or contact customer service), this is a great option to keep around.
Price at time of publish: $54 for 24 cans
Size: 11.3 ounces | Caffeine: 168.5 milligrams | Calories: 120 | Sugar: 22 grams | Contains Dairy: Yes
Best Single Origin
Peet's Black and White Iced Espresso
Multiple iced espresso flavors available
Great for those new to canned coffee
Peet's has been a go-to source for reliable coffee ever since it was founded in 1966. The San Francisco Bay Area-born brand focused on coffee beans for many years but offers two canned options today: bold Iced Espressos and decadent Blended Coffees. The Black and White Iced Espresso in particular is a crowd pleaser because it balances robust coffee flavor with a mild sweetness. It contains milk for a creamier mouthfeel, but this may be a downside for coffee lovers who avoid dairy products.
We also love that all four of Peet's Iced Espresso flavors use single-origin beans from Colombia. The "single-origin" designation can be a little vague, but it essentially means that a coffee company gets its coffee beans from one specific area, whether it's a single farm or a single region of a country.
Price at time of publish: $35 for 12 cans
Size: 8 ounces | Caffeine: 66 to 67 milligrams | Calories: 100 | Sugar: 12 grams | Contains Dairy: Yes
"With coffee, I think people lean toward single-origin beans because if they are familiar with the flavor profile of that region then they will get that profile in the cup. It doesn’t always equate to better taste, though. I like single origin because you can trace your coffee back to specific farms and know the farmers are being paid a living wage." — Nigel Price, founder and owner of Drip Coffee Makers in New York City
Fire Dept. Coffee Nitro Irish Coffee
Whiskey flavor is subtle but noticeable
A little pricey
This is one Irish coffee you can drink at any time of day and even on the go. The 7-ounce cans are filled with nitro cold brew that's been infused with whiskey, along with real cream to give it a richer, more authentic texture. The coffee is non-alcoholic because the alcohol is roasted out during the preparation process, but the whiskey flavor is still present, underlining but now overpowering the coffee. We received a sample of Fire Dept. Coffee Nitro Irish Coffee and found it unique, enjoyable, and easy to drink.
Cans are sold in counts of 12 or 24. The 24-count option is the same price per can as the 12-count box, however, so it doesn't save money to buy in bulk. Fire Dept. Coffee also sells its whiskey-infused blend as whole bean and ground coffee.
Price at time of publish: $48 for 12 cans
Size: 7 ounces | Caffeine: 120 milligrams | Calories: 90 | Sugar: 12 grams | Contains Dairy: Yes
Boss Coffee's Flash Brew is an excellent starting point if you're looking for a delicious jolt of canned caffeine. It's strong but palatable and should appeal to all range of coffee lovers. Those craving a creamier treat will enjoy Rise Brewing Company's Oat Milk Latte with Nitro Cold Brew.
What to Look for in Canned Coffee
Most canned coffee on this list ranges from 20 to 30 cents per ounce, or around $3 per can. However, if you have special requirements for your canned coffee, such as a single-origin option, you’ll likely pay more.
Ease of Storage
Some canned coffees can be stored on your shelves, while others need to be chilled at all times. This consideration is minor, but it can affect the amount of space you have in your kitchen. It's also worth keeping in mind if you're grabbing a canned coffee (or coffees, plural) while traveling. Make sure to check the label.
Many canned coffees are meant to be served chilled, either poured over ice or straight from the fridge. If you’re looking for hot coffee, you’ll have to find something meant for it (like the UCC Hawaii Kona Blend Coffee) or be prepared to have some textural and flavor changes.
How do you store canned coffee?
Check the package. Some, like the La Colombe draft lattes, are shelf stable. Others should be stored in the fridge.
Can you heat canned coffee?
For the most part, yes. Canned coffee is usually meant to be enjoyed cold, though, so heating it up could change the taste, and not necessarily for the better.
What is the difference between cold brew and flash brew?
In order to make cold brew, ground beans are soaked in cool or room temperature water for an extended period of time (about 12 hours minimum). Fans of cold brew love it for its low acidity and bitterness. Flash brew, on the other hand, is brewed as hot coffee, then quickly chilled. Its proponents say it brings out more of the coffee’s flavor.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Christine Clark is a writer and cheese educator, who grew up Mormon, meaning she first had coffee in her early 20s. After tasting it for the first time, she instantly fell in love with it and dove into the coffee world. She loves berry-forward coffee beans and a morning cappuccino made with local milk and her stovetop Moka pot.
This piece was updated by Derek Rose, the coffee and tea expert for The Spruce Eats. He researches a variety of coffee products, from measuring scoops to commercial espresso machines, and interviews field experts for their insight. At home, he typically makes coffee with the Bodum Brazil French Press—a great budget option, especially for those who prefer non-electric brewers.
Nigel Price is the founder and owner of Drip Coffee Makers in New York City and has worked in the coffee industry for more than a decade. Established in 2015, Drip now has multiple locations.
Food and Drug Administration. Spilling the beans: how much caffeine is too much?