The Reason Trader Joe's Coffee Ice Cream Is So Rich

Trader Joe's desserts are, in a word, legendary. In their list of 88 — yes, 88 — best Trader Joe's desserts, Buzzfeed awarded Hold the Cone! Mini Ice Cream Cones, Ube Mochi, and Speculoos Cookie Butter Ice Cream the top spots, and rightfully so. Not only do the mini ice cream cones come in a multitude of delicious flavors, but they've even caught the eye of celebrity chefs like Ted Allen. And the cookie butter ice cream derives from Trader Joe's famous cookie butter, which was so beloved in 2016 that customers named it their favorite Trader Joe's product of that year (via Insider).

So what makes Trader Joe's desserts so delectable? According to SF Gate, the chain doesn't actually make its own items. Instead, it buys them from big brands and sells them at its stores for cheaper, under its own label. Although Trader Joe's is extremely secretive about where it sources its products, a few names have slipped through the cracks. For example, Eater shares that Naked provided the chain with smoothies at one point, and a type of Stacy's pita chips contain the exact same ingredients as the Trader Joe's brand.

When it comes to desserts, there are theories that the brand Double Rainbow supplies Trader Joe's ice cream, but they've never been verified (via RV and Playa). But when it comes to its coffee ice cream, the reason why the sweet treat is so delicious is public knowledge.

Trader Joe's coffee ice cream has low overrun

Trader Joe's Coffee Bean Blast Ice Cream is beloved for its strong coffee flavor, espresso bean bits, and smooth, creamy texture, and Trader Joe's confirms that there is a reason for the ice cream's dense, rich spoonfuls — Coffee Bean Blast Ice Cream doesn't have much overrun. According to ice cream equipment specialist Slices Concession, overrun is the air content whipped into ice cream to make it lighter and fluffier, but also to use less product. Trader Joe's explains that its frozen dessert has very little incorporated air, making it richer and denser than most.

Surprisingly, overrun typically plays a huge role in most ice creams. Palsgaard explains that ice cream generally is almost half air. And while high overrun can make the dessert feel creamier and give it a "whipped" quality, it can also make for lower-quality ice cream that breaks down more easily. According to Slices Concession, the ideal overrun is when the dessert is fluffy in texture but doesn't fall off a cone or begin melting immediately.

It turns out that overrun is even FDA regulated. Overrun is measured by comparing the volume of air added to the original volume of the ice cream base. Most ice creams, for example, have about 100% overrun, which means the volume of air added matches the volume of the original ice cream base i.e, most ice cream is 50% air. For a treat to qualify as ice cream, as opposed to just a frozen dessert, the overrun must be less than 100% (via The Kitchn). However, premium ice creams should have an overrun of 50% or less. We'd guess that Trader Joe's Coffee Bean Blast Ice Cream falls squarely into the latter category.