- We taste-tested Hard Cold Brew Coffee, the new alcoholic concoction from La Colombe and MillerCoors currently being tested in select markets.
- The 4.2% ABV beverage comes in black coffee and vanilla flavours and is made using a mix of malt liquor and La Colombe cold-pressed medium roasted Colombian and Brazilian coffee beans.
- Initial reactions toward the drink ranged from “perfectly mediocre” to “the aftertaste is like chemicals.”
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
The rise of hard seltzer has paved the way for even more fresh takes on the canned cocktail – including alcoholic coffee.
La Colombe and MillerCoors recently teamed up to develop Hard Cold Brew Coffee, a chilled alcoholic java that debuted in select markets in September. The 100-calorie drink claims to provide a new way to “rally like a grownup” by providing a jolt of energy “because good times wait for no one.”
As more young drinkers pass on beer in favour of lighter options, alcohol companies are increasingly seeking out innovative ways to appeal to them.
“Our drinkers are constantly on-the-go and looking for new options to enjoy during their celebrations,” Sofia Colucci, vice president of innovation at MillerCoors, wrote in an email to Business Insider.
While La Colombe may not be the first to foray into hard coffee – PBR, for example, released a version in July shortly around the time it also launched its own hard seltzer – its certainly the most high-end. The Philadelphia-based coffee company is known for its specialty roasted beans and upscale beverages, including the draft latte.
Though the drinks have a relatively low ABV at 4.2%, mixing caffeine and alcohol together in a such a way evokes the horror stories that plagued early versions of Four Loko. In order to stay out of trouble with the FDA, La Colombe and competitors like PBR have ensured that their beverages contain no more than 50 mg of caffeine. (For reference, the 2010 Four Loko 23.5-ounce can had 156 mg of caffeine and 12% ABV.)
A group of reporters for Business Insider tried the drinks on a recent Friday and had mixed feelings. While I personally quite enjoyed the black coffee – I tend not to discriminate when it comes to coffee in any and all varieties – my colleagues weren’t so keen.
The group’s overall sentiment toward the beverage ranged from “perfectly mediocre” to “the aftertaste is like chemicals.” Here’s a closer look at what we thought.
La Colombe’s Hard Cold Brew Coffee is currently available in five cities including Boston, Denver, and three cities in Florida: Tampa, Fort Meyers, and Treasure Coast.
Colucci said the company does not have information regarding national expansion but that consumers “have been responding really well” to the product in the five cities.
Before tasting the drinks, we admired the sleek can design and pretty gold detailing.
Both the black and vanilla drinks use cold-pressed medium-roasted Colombian and Brazilian coffee beans, according to La Colombe.
“La Colombe has done a spectacular job creating a strong following of coffee lovers,” Colucci wrote in an email to Business Insider. “They are leaders in the category due to their relentless focus on quality sourcing, roasting, and product innovation. These factors, combined with our years of expertise creating new beverages that drinkers love, made us the perfect pair to bring this product to life.”
Both contain around 50 mg of caffeine per can. The black coffee is 100 calories and the vanilla coffee is 110 calories.
La Colombe presents the beverages as an alternative to other popular brunch drinks, using cheeky statements on its site like “screw screwdrivers” and “move over mimosas.”
First, we tried traditional black coffee, which each of us poured over a cup of ice.
The first few sips are deceptively non-alcoholic tasting. As we continued sipping, a couple of testers noted that it essentially tasted like “watery cold brew” with a hint of alcohol. One strong dissenter said the “aftertaste is like chemicals.”
Overall though, the group seemed generally ambivalent – borderline content – by the black coffee. One colleague called it “perfectly mediocre,” as she reached for more.
Next up was vanilla, which we collectively struggled to choke down.
Regular flavored coffee drinks already have a tendency to be fairly hit-or-miss, and the alcoholic variety proved no exception. “Vanilla is definitively worse,” one of my colleagues said. Another scrunched up his face and yelped “Terrible!” upon taking a sip.
One tester seemed to enjoy it, saying it reminded her of Kahlua. However, we were surprised to see the actual drink itself was not creamy or milky, it was simply vanilla-flavored coffee.
In conclusion, the jury’s still out for us on the La Colombe Hard Cold Brew Coffee, though we think we’re leaning toward taking our coffee and alcohol separately.
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