I tried iced black coffee from 4 coffee chains, and there’s only one I’d like to buy again

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I tasted an iced black coffee from Starbucks, Gloria Jean’s, Tim Hortons, and Dunkin’. Erin Ajello for Insider
  • I tried an iced black coffee from Starbucks, Gloria Jean’s, Tim Hortons, and Dunkin’.
  • My favourite iced coffee was from Dunkin’ because the drink had a nice, refreshing taste.
  • The iced coffees from Starbucks and Gloria Jean’s both tasted a bit too bitter for my liking.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

My go-to beverage is iced black coffee – and I drink it nearly every single day.

I often prefer making my own at home with my single-serve coffee maker, but about a month ago I decided to compare the iced black coffee from four popular chains: Dunkin’, Tim Hortons, Gloria Jean’s, and Starbucks.

At each chain, I ordered a small, iced black coffee in the company’s signature brew and took it to-go. Here’s how they stacked up.


The iced coffee from Dunkin’ was heavy on the ice, but it had a great flavour.

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The iced coffee from Dunkin’ was nice and refreshing.

Although I did not find the drink to be as “full of flavour” as the chain’s website mentions, this coffee had a crisp, light flavour that was enjoyable without being overwhelming.

This was definitely the most refreshing iced coffee I tried, and I would absolutely order this again.

Interestingly, this was also the cup of coffee that had the largest amount of ice in it. Usually, a lot of ice can lead to a super watery, overly diluted drink, but I was pleasantly surprised that wasn’t the case here.


Tim Hortons’ coffee had the most unique flavour.

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The iced coffee from Tim Hortons had a nutty flavour.

The iced coffee from Tim Hortons was the only one that seemed to have a clear flavour. The brew actually tasted slightly nutty, which was pleasant.

However, despite being described as a medium roast, the brew seemed very strong and quite bitter.

The coffee didn’t have a lot of ice, either. I think if more ice had been used and melted into this coffee, it may have been diluted enough to be more drinkable.


In my opinion, the iced coffee from Starbucks was the worst one I tried.

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The iced coffee from Starbucks tasted bitter to me.

In my experience, Starbucks makes its iced coffee using its medium-roast Iced Coffee Blend, which is described as “smooth” and “caramelly.” This was not my experience.

I found this coffee to be the most bitter of all the ones I tried, and difficult to finish. Just like the hot Starbucks coffee I’d previously tasted, this is not a drink I would order again.

This also had the least amount of ice, which should have been a good thing – more room for coffee! – but didn’t do much to sway my opinion on the overall drink.


I typically love Gloria Jean’s hot black coffee, but I wasn’t impressed by the iced version.

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The iced coffee from Gloria Jean’s was just OK, in my opinion.

When I tried hot black coffees from these same four chains,Gloria Jean’s brew was my favourite – so I was surprised that the chain’s iced coffee was too harsh for my liking.

The coffee tasted rich, but it was very bitter and ultimately difficult to drink. This drink had a lot of ice – just slightly less than what Dunkin’s had – but it didn’t do much to dilute the overly bitter flavours of the coffee.


Out of all the iced coffees I tried, the only one I would go out of my way to get again is Dunkin’s.

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The iced coffee from Dunkin’ was loaded with ice.
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Erin Ajello for Insider

Dunkin’s iced coffee was the most enjoyable and drinkable coffee I tried by far, and it was smooth and crisp in a way that the others just weren’t.

Overall, every coffee was affordable and I got all of my orders quickly – but if I were to order an iced coffee from any of these chains besides Dunkin’, I’d probably feel the need to add some cream or sugar.

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