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We are on a mission to find the best ready made cold brew coffee. What better way to do that than a good old fashioned round robin tournament?
The ground rules:
- All coffees tasted will be black. No sweeteners, flavorings, or milk allowed.
- As much as possible, we will stick to coffees that are available nationwide (including online)
- Each coffee will be tasted by the same two testers and opinions compared
- Concentrates and ready to drink will have their own separate, ..er, tournaments. See the ready-to-drink challenge here.
- Concentrates will be diluted to the manufacturer’s directions
I will continue to add on to Round 1 as I discover new coffees. As soon as I start Round 2, I will start a separate page for that.
Trader Joe’s Original Cold Brew vs. Bizzy Cold Brew Concentrate
Both of these coffee concentrates have a recommended dilution of 1 part concentrate to 2 parts water. We followed the recommended dilution rates and tasted both black and without ice.
Trader Joe’s concentrate has been on the market since 2013. According to their website, it is made in Texas using 100% Arabica beans that are medium roasted and coarsely ground. It comes in a 32 oz bottle, which will make about 96 oz. of coffee. We found that the concentrate is indeed very strong, and a 1:2 ratio of coffee to water was about right for a strong cup.
Bizzy coffee launched in 2016 and has quickly become a bestseller on Amazon. They are based in Minnesota and the company is owned by two childhood friends. Bizzy uses 100% organic Arabica beans for their coffee and an 18 hour brew time. Interestingly, they use mixture of light, medium, and dark roasted beans. The bottles are 16 oz and the recommended dilution is 1:2 ratio of coffee to water. One nice touch on Bizzy’s bottles was a scale on the label in 1/3 c. increments that allowed you to see how much concentrate you were using. Of course the downside it you still need to measure out 2/3 cups water.
Taster 1 preferred Bizzy’s, noting the smooth, chocolatey flavors. A slight smoky aftertaste and hint of citrus was also detected. Taster 1 found Trader Joes to be smokier and stronger, with a boldness that was harsher.
Taster 2 preferred Bizzy’s, finding it smooth with no bitter aftertaste. Taster 2 like Trader Joes as well, commenting that it was fairly smooth with a hint of fruitiness and astringency. Taster 2 did not notice any bitter aftertaste with either coffee.
The winner: Both tasters preferred Bizzy’s and they move on to future rounds of the challenge.
Technically, Trader Joes was eliminated in the match above. I couldn’t help but notice the striking similarity of the Trader Joes and Kohana bottles and had to put my suspicions to the test. (Recall also that Trader Joe’s coffee is made in Texas, and their whole business model is private label. Draw your own conclusions.)
Kohana gets its name from the small white flowers that bloom on the coffee plant before the coffee fruits. Inspired by Hawaiian slow roasted coffee, but made in Austin, TX, Kohana has several concentrate and ready to drink options. They use single origin beans and all of their coffees are organic. We tasted the original concentrate, but there are also French Roast and French Vanilla variations.
Taster 1 felt Trader Joes has a smooth taste with no aftertaste, while Kohana was smoky with an off, unpleasant after taste. Taster 1 preferred Trader Joe’s.
Taster 2 found Kohana to be smoother and not acidic, while Trader Joes had a hint of green olives and vinegar. Taster 2 preferred Kohana.
The winner: Well, we both agreed that despite the same bottle, these are not the same coffee. This one was a tie.
More results coming soon..