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Taste test: Some bottled, canned javas don’t wake up taste buds

Published: Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012 1:15 a.m. CDT

Ever since canned and bottled coffees flooded the United States 15 years or so ago, there’s been a steady increase in consumption as well as innovation. These days, ready-to-drink coffee is an almost billion-dollar bonanza – sales were $944 million for the previous 12 months as of July, according to market research firm SymphonyIRI Group – with canned and bottled coffees targeting most every taste and lifestyle.

We tasted canned and bottled coffees from the dozens available, some newcomers as well as the granddaddy of canned coffee, UCC Coffee with Milk from Japan. Half had milk (or a milk product); the remainder included chocolate. Some were amped up with vitamins, some with green tea. We found them at supermarkets, convenience stores and an Asian market.

They ranged in price from 13 cents per ounce to almost 33 cents per ounce. Some can be purchased on their own websites, others at Amazon.com. Here’s what our eight tasters found. Note that because the coffees are so different, we did not rank them; instead, we give a rating for each. Calories are per container.

Illy Issimo Latte Macchiato

Cost: $1.99 (8.45 ounce can)

Calories: 110

On the label: “Italian espresso style coffee drink with milk.” “Caffeine content: 80 mg.”

Comments: “More coffee than cream.” “Roasted scent, almost a caramel flavor.” “Thin, more caramel than coffee.”

Verdict: Most liked it


Energize Iced

Coffee Cappuccino

Cost: $2.29 (9.5 ounce bottle)

Calories: 140

On the label: “Nutrient enhanced.” “Yerba mate leaf extract.” “Panax ginseng.”

Comments: “Stern coffee flavor.” “Unpleasant aftertaste, almost caramely.” “Some coffee flavor, yet not tasteless.”

Verdict: Sort of liked it

Royal Mills Iced Cappuccino

Cost: $1.49 (11 ounce can)

Calories: 170

On the label: “Coffee Drink Made in Hawaii.” “Sweetened condensed milk.” “Non dairy creamer (Contains soy).”

Comments: “Not as creamy but still sweet.” “Decent sweet/coffee balance.” “Plummy aftertaste, caramel coffee flavor.” “Muddy brown.”

Verdict: So-so


Frappuccino Coffee

Cost: $2.78 (13.7 ounce bottle)

Calories: 290

On the label: “Maltodextrin, Pectin”

Comments: “Sweet and creamy.” “Nutty with a hint of roasted flavor.” “Like slightly old coffee.” “Too much milk.” “Almost too sweet for my taste.”

Verdict: Liked it

UCC Coffee

with Milk

Cost: $1.49 (11.3 ounce can)

Calories: 140

On the label: “The pioneer maker of the canned liquid coffee in Japan.” “Original blend.” “Milk powder.”

Comments: “Toasted nose. Unpleasant off taste.” “Off, odd flavor.” “Tastes burnt.” “Off-putting smell, like new sports equipment.”

Verdict: Did not like

Bean & Body Vegan with

Chocolate Cacao and Berry Flavors

Cost: $2.69 (8 ounce can)

Calories: 80

On the label: “A deliciously airy, non-dairy drink of decadence.” “Bean of euphoria.” “Chicory root extract.” “Maqui berry extract.” “Contains 53 mg caffeine.”

Comments: “Almost like a potent tea.” “Quite sweet, flavors of cherry.” “Smells like porter beer; raspberry sharpness.” “Not what I’m looking for in bottled coffee.”

Verdict: Did not like


Frappuccino Mocha

Cost: $2.78 (13.7 ounce bottle)

Calories: 257

On the label: “A low-fat creamy blend.”

Comments: “Sweet creamy.” “No real sense of chocolate, pleasant enough.” “Very delicate aroma, super sweet.”

Verdict: Most liked it

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