You would think, seeing as coffee is one of the worlds most popular drinks, that there would be a huge proliferation of prepackaged coffee drinks filling the shelves. Strangely though, it is not really the case. There are lots of pre made tea based drinks, but only a small handful of coffee drinks - and that handful has only been out for a couple of years. Out of the over one thousand caffeine products I have tried, only about 80 of them have been coffee related. Even the major drink players like Coke and Pepsi have stayed away from it ( with the exception of the horrid and short lived Coke Blak). The problem is by the time you are done mass brewing, storing, packaging and transporting, the coffee you end up canning is nothing like the coffee you want to be drinking.
To keep a canned or bottled drink fresh there are a number of things you can do, all of which influence the coffee flavor. You can go the route of adding preservatives and enough freeze dried coffee that you can chemically control the flavor to last for a long time, or you can use coffee flavoring to give the essence of coffee without worry about going stale, or if you are very enterprising, you can come up with your own unique methods for bringing convenience to your morning coffee.
These are some of the best packaged coffee drinks on the market today. Unfortunately, these drinks are not always the easiest finds to uncover. Most stores are packed with the Monster and Starbucks equivalent of non-dairy coffee creamers, oils, preservatives and freeze dried coffee nonsense. However, if you are looking for something more exciting, don't pass any of these up for an amazing coffee experience.
My foray into coffee flavored drinks started with the most amazing coffee soda - something I have never tasted before and was a real bar-setter. Bibicaffe was an italian espresso soda, and managed to be flavorful and unique while delivering a real caffeine punch. I was instantly hooked of coffee drinks and spent the next five years finding and trying out al that I could find. Unfortunately, they stopped importing Bibicaffe to America, Fortunately for me Frizz Coffee soda came out - also from Italy, and while it did not seem as caffeinated, the amazing flavor and European charm did not fail to blow me away.
Manhattan Special Espresso Coffee Soda
Of course, if you wanted to keep to the US, there is an easier to find American made coffee soda called Manhattan Special Coffee Soda - which is light on the energy but heavy on awesome flavor and retro packaging.
POMx Iced Coffee
Of course, the largest category of coffee drinks falls into the realm of coffee and energy drinks combines, where you have a mix of all sorts of non-coffee ingredients, from ones with an energy-drink energy profile with guarana and taurine. A great example of this was POMx Iced Coffee, made with real pomegranate extract. Unfortunately, the public just could not get behind it and it was discontinued shortly after release.
Whynatte Latte has all that you would expect from your energy drink, including loads of taurine and Vitamin B, however they managed to make it all taste pretty great - like a cool coffee milkshake. It does not taste like real coffee, but when you are wanting something akin to a Starbucks quadruple Machhiato, Whynatte delivers.
Chameleon Cold Brew
The coolest category for me is the idea of taking real coffee, and find a way to package and sell it - making it different than something they can brew from their coffeepots. To do that, the coffee not only has to be amazing, but it also is something which appeals to a specific kind of person - the ones who will go out of their way to try something unique and special, such as those who travel to try different microbreweries or find themselves searching specialty grocery stores for interesting craft drinks.
The two best of this category have very different flavor profiles, and made in completely different ways. Chameleon Cold Brew is made using the cod-toddy brewing method, which makes this 100% organic coffee super concentrated and very flavorful - with no bitterness or acidity.
Black Medicine Iced Coffee
On the other side is Black Medicine Coffee - one of the best bottled coffees that have ever been crafted. Using an original technique, they created one of the most best coffee experiences you will have from a bottled coffee drink. Their coffee blend is balanced and very flavorful, packing in a bunch of caffeine as well as one of the coolest bottles around.