14 Popular Canned Coffee Brands, Ranked Worst To Best

Canned coffee drinks have been a daily staple for Japanese workers since their invention in 1969 (a time when Americans still thought Sanka instant coffee was a nifty invention). As American lifestyles have changed, increasingly-busy schedules mean that few of us even have breakfast these days. Taking the time to brew coffee is just not always possible in households where everyone has somewhere to be. Hot coffee is practically a luxury, and canned coffee products have become a necessary replacement — an essential part of hectic modern living for many of us.

Coffee in a can isn't just for those in a rush. Sometimes it's the perfect caffeine solution when vacationing, especially in places where a coffee pot isn't feasible, like at campsites, on hiking trails, or on long car trips. College students studying in tiny dorm rooms or long-haul truckers on the road can all benefit from quick access to coffee, so it's coffee-in-a-can to the rescue. Unfortunately, the number of choices now available could cause your head to spin more than the caffeine buzz. So, this guide is here to help you choose.

15. International Delight

When International Delight first appeared on the scene in the '80s, it had a sophisticated European vibe. But oh, how that's changed. You won't find any international flavor in its canned coffee drinks, even in the Mocha and Caramel Macchiato varieties. You won't find much coffee flavor, either. (Somebody should tell International Delight that a true macchiato is made with espresso.) The other two varieties, Vanilla and Oreo, don't fare any better. The Oreo flavor, in particular, tastes like a melted Starbucks Frappucino minus the coffee. 

Part of the problem is that the cream and sugar ratios are so high that you could potentially use the canned iced coffee as a creamer in a real cup of coffee. International Delight doesn't list the caffeine amount on its cans, but the website says that there is 52-62 mg of caffeine per 8-oz serving. Considering that the product is sold in 15 oz. cans, you have to be a mathlete to calculate the actual amount. Suffice it to say, when there's this little coffee taste, just skip the math and get your buzz elsewhere.

14. Java Monster

The Monster Beverage Corporation mainly focuses on energy drinks but has expanded into the coffee drink market in recent years. The 13.5 oz. cans are sold in nine flavors: Mean Bean, Loca Mocha, Irish Blend, Vanilla Light, Salted Caramel, Cold Brew Latte, Cold Brew Sweet Black, and Café Latte. The Java Monster drinks are essentially coffee-flavored versions of popular energy drinks, with a caffeine boost that comes not just from the coffee but from a caffeine additive. The website states that the drinks contain 100 mg of caffeine per serving and 200 mg per can (a bit disingenuous, as no one is pouring these into cups to share). 

The coffee drinks are advertised as having "killer flavor," but only one of those words is close to accurate. There's a mountain of added sugar to balance all the extra energy drink components (like guarana and taurine). There are also plenty of non-energy additives like guar gum and cellulose, which may be why Java Monster drinks have such an unnatural taste. The Sweet Black is the only flavor not laden with sugar (it uses Sucralose instead), but for the others, they taste so sickeningly sweet that you might as well just eat a Snickers and pop a vitamin.

13. Black Rifle Coffee Company

The packaging for Black Rifle's coffee products is hard to miss, even if the camo-patterned cans might make them invisible in the jungle. The company is devoted to supporting veterans — a noble effort — but its centering on guns is pretty in-your-face and is likely a turn-off for as many consumers as it might attract. (Black Rifle's Silencer Smooth coffee is illustrated with a firearm suppressor, and the AK-47 Espresso features a skull between two assault rifles.)

The aggressive attitude extends to the ingredients. Black Rifle's Espresso 300 Triple Shot has a whopping 300 milligrams of caffeine. That's equivalent to three cups of coffee, putting it into energy drink territory. Black Rifle gets bonus points for added chicory (which gives flavor to New Orleans-style coffees), but the product ultimately fails to deliver on coffee taste — perhaps the result of too many ingredients. The vanilla version, for example, doesn't taste very much like vanilla (and even less like coffee), which could be explained by the appearance of cocoa in the ingredient list.

12. Peet's Coffee

Peet's Coffee is famous for its bold, dark roast when it comes to coffee beans, but unfortunately for fans of the brand, that robust taste that Peet's is known for doesn't translate as well into the canned coffee format. The single-origin Columbian coffee used in the drinks tastes better than some canned varieties, but it's clouded by the additional ingredients in the Mocha Iced Espresso, Black and White Iced Espresso, Vanilla Latte Iced Espresso, and Caramel Macchiato Iced Espresso.

To be fair, there's a tendency for almost all canned coffees to lack full coffee flavor, which is why so many of them stack the ingredients with a lot of extra sugar and flavorings. Peet's gets credit for keeping things on the simple side (the Espresso Black and White is decent as the least-cloying variety), but the resulting taste is on the thin and watery side. A better bet is to brew your own Peet's and pour it over ice.

11. Rise Brewing Co.

A joke has gone around about Starbucks since the early 2000s, when a coffee bean expert dismissed the product by saying, "Starbucks is in the milk business." You could also say — though it's not an insult — that Rise Brewing Co. is in the non-dairy milk business because the company actually sells its oat milk by the carton. All of Rise's coffee drinks (except for Original Blace) are made with oat milk. This is a big plus for vegans and those who enjoy oat milk for the taste.

Another plus for Rise Brewing Co. is that the canned coffee is brewed with nitrogen, which gives it a smoother taste. (That's why some people prefer nitro brew coffee to cold brew.) It's a solid choice for those looking for non-dairy canned coffee options, though it must be said that the company's best-tasting option contains no coffee at all. Rise Brewing Co.'s London Fog Tea has the aromatic citrus-peel zing of Earl Grey, a welcome on-the-go choice for tea lovers, but coffee purists won't likely embrace it.

10. High Brew

The dizzying number of canned coffee brands today leads to a lot of sameness in taste. High Brew is a brand that comes out right smack in the middle, flavor-wise. To be honest, it would be difficult to distinguish between High Brew's Black and Bold and Rise Brewing Co.'s Original Black in a taste test for all but the most discerning coffee drinkers. Where Austin, Texas-made High Brew has the slight edge is in the flavor choices for the 8 oz. canned cold brew. 

Plain coffee drinkers will gravitate towards the Black and Bold, but even those who prefer their canned coffee on the simple side may be tempted by the Toasted Coconut, Bourbon Vanilla, Dark Chocolate Mocha, and Mexican Vanilla. You can actually taste the cinnamon in the Mexican Vanilla, and none of the flavored coffees have as much of the overly sweet and sickly taste of some of the competitors' concoctions.

9. Lavazza

Lavazza has been selling coffee since 1895, so the expectations for the cold brew are high. Largely, those expectations are met. The cold brew coffee products, sold in 8 oz cans, are not as flavorful as fresh-brewed Lavazza coffee beans, but if you've sampled enough brands, you already know that there's a disparity between the two products. Lavazza's coffee is Rainforest Alliance certified, which doesn't affect the taste, but means you can at least sip with a conscience. 

The 100% Arabica-based cold brew drinks are sold in Classic, Cappuccino, and Double-Shot Oat Milk. There's also a Nitro version, which is refreshingly devoid of sugar and flavors, yet has a bit of a naturally sweet taste that comes from the coffee itself. Ultimately, Lavazza gets points for having a bolder coffee taste than some brands — a taste that some describe as bitter but coffee connoisseurs will recognize as vibrant. There's a bit more complexity to Lavazza cold brew than you'll find in some others.

8. Sail Away

Sail Away Coffee was founded by a touring musician, and it's that indie vibe that makes Sail Away sort of like the craft beer of the coffee world. The brand's canned coffee is of the nitro brew variety, and the nitrogen gives it a creamy mouthfeel. It's also smooth-tasting (though not necessarily as strong as some might like). The product is sold in 11.5 oz. cans in four varieties (Classic Black, Touch of Sweet, Sea Salt & Caramel, and Horchata), with occasional seasonal and holiday offerings like Maple Vanilla and Sleigh Ride (with peppermint and cacao). 

The Touch of Sweet option splits the difference between those who like it black and those who like it sweet, a coffee blessing for those of us who find most flavored varieties to be far too sugary. Classic Black contains only one ingredient: coffee. In a world of additive-laden products, that fact alone should earn Sail Away a medal. For those who like a richer taste, the Horchata is a must-try, making oat milk coffees seem like yesterday's news.

7. Mr. Brown

While coffee tastes are personal, and no one list could possibly be definitive, the presence of Mr. Brown in the top ten will likely be more divisive than other entries. Why? Because even dedicated fans of Mr. Brown admit that it is probably not the most delicious canned coffee on the market. But, like Hershey's (not a particularly spectacular chocolate) and Miller Lite (not the world's best-tasting beer), it still has legions of fans. Mr. Brown, when it comes down to it, tastes okay. And okay is not only good enough for plenty of people, but it's also good enough to gain a cult following.

Founded in Taiwan in 1998, Mr. Brown has been on the scene longer than its newer competitors, several of which just seem like imitations at three times the price. The low price is perhaps another key to why the short, fat cans are so beloved. At Asian markets, the retail price is often close to a dollar, making it ideal for college students, backpackers, or anyone on a budget to stock up on the case. Also, a plus: a huge selection of coffee flavors to please almost everyone.

6. UCC

Japanese company UCC was selling coffee in a can decades before the Western world even thought about the concept. The Ueshima Coffee Co. debuted the first canned coffee drink in the world in 1969 with UCC Milk Coffee. Though now the coffee line has expanded to multiple flavors, the original Milk Coffee is still around, with only slight changes to its packaging. Any product with that kind of longevity must be doing something right.

Flavor-wise, the original Milk Coffee product is sweet and milky, as the name suggests, with such a high milk-to-coffee ratio that the coffee taste is almost subtle. (Those who want more coffee taste will prefer UCC Black.) In Japan, canned coffee vending machines dispense the product both hot and cold, and because the can is made of steel rather than aluminum, some consumers like to heat it in a kettle of boiling water. If you're a latte fan, try it hot — though it's probably safer to pour it into a mug and microwave it.

5. Starbucks

With almost 16,000 Starbucks coffee shops selling fresh-brewed coffee daily in the United States, you wouldn't think there would be a huge demand for canned Starbucks products in retail stores. On the contrary, the demand for Starbucks' ready-to-drink coffee, as sold in groceries, cafeterias, drugstores, etc., netted the company over 377 million dollars in 2022 alone. Love it or hate it, there's no denying that folks really like their Starbucks.

One of the biggest upsides of the company's canned coffee drinks is that they have a taste reminiscent of the brewed product. That "burnt" taste that Starbucks' biggest haters complain about is detectable in the cold brew, though those who like it would call it "bold."  Even in the most elaborate canned Starbucks flavors, like Espresso Salted Caramel Cream, there's still a hint of that famous Starbucks dark-roast taste. It may seem like there's a shop on every corner, but the canned version lets Starbucks fans take their favorite coffee to the few places where there isn't: on hikes, in the classroom, or even in their own kitchen. 

4. Pop & Bottle

San Francisco-based Pop & Bottle makes the opposite of those weird energy drink/coffee drink combos. Sure, Pop & Bottle contains some unusual ingredients, but the components are wholesome, good-for-you additions like adaptogens, stress-relieving ashwagandha, coconut cream, and Himalayan pink salt. For those who sometimes skip breakfast and just have coffee, these drinks give you more than just a caffeine boost without the danger that energy drinks pose. They're also free of gluten and dairy and are made with organic ingredients.

But here's the real kicker: Pop & Bottle's coffee drinks are actually good. The cans may be full of healthful stuff, but they don't taste like it. In fact, you might be surprised at how rich they taste (that's the oat milk). The Mocha flavor is truly decadent, with a rich chocolate taste from cacao beans and a creamy texture that belies the fact it's free of dairy. It almost seems shocking that a cold brew coffee drink could have so many benefits. If you're in doubt, pop a bottle of Pop & Bottle and see what the fuss is about.

3. Illy

Illy's silver coffee bean cans and red-and-white logo are instantly recognizable, almost as classic as the Italian coffee itself, so it was a smart move for Illy to mimic that design with its cold brew, which is sold in a slim silver 8.5 oz. can. The similarity is not merely visual, as Illy's Arabica-based cold brew is as well-crafted as its other famous products, with a strong, coffee-forward flavor that tastes good simply as it is, chilled or unchilled.

The brand keeps it simple with only three varieties, a regular black Cold Brew, Cappucino, and Latte Macchiato. The latter two are fairly similar to competitive products like High Brew and Rise and will likely please fans of those brands. It's the straight, unflavored Cold Brew that gains a high ranking for Illy, as this is a coffee for people who actually like coffee. Though it's tasty on its own, Illy's strength and simplicity make it perfect as an ingredient in cold brew coffee cocktails.

2. La Colombe

Philadelphia-based La Colombe launched its first canned coffee product in 2016, so it's newer to the market than some of the most famous namesc but has quickly become a favorite because of its taste and quality. La Colombe brings draft cold brew to the canned coffee market by means of a pressurized valve, so when you open a can of La Colombe, the hissing sound alerts you that you're in for something special. There's a creaminess and texture to La Colombe that's unlike anything else — except perhaps for draft beer. La Colombe even manages to have a frothy head when poured straight out of the can. The texture alone would make the brand a standout, but it also delivers on taste.

La Colombe's 9 oz. cans come in several varieties and occasional limited edition seasonal flavors. Unlike some brands, where only certain flavors gain rave reviews, every iteration of La Colombe has good taste and texture, and the only varieties to avoid would be a matter of personal taste preference. Current offerings include Vanilla Latte, Mocha Latte, Caramel Latte, and Hazelnut Latte, with alternate oat milk versions of most of the popular flavors. Both types have a lovely, creamy taste. An unusual entry into the cold brew market is the Nitro Cold Brew with Lemon, which won't be for everyone, but is a refreshing option for those who love the tradition of Turkish coffee with citrus.

1. Boss Coffee

Boss Coffee was not named in vain. Boss Coffee, from Japan's Suntory company, is the king of all canned coffee drinks. The Japanese invented canned coffee. It's a huge part of their culture, with an uncountable number of brands sold hot and cold in vending machines. Boss is the number one coffee brand in Japan, and for a country so serious about its ready-to-drink coffee, that's an achievement worth noticing. Luckily for U.S. residents, Boss is exported, and it's now stocked on grocery store shelves. If you can't find it where you usually shop, try your local Asian market.

Whatever positive coffee adjectives you can think of, you can apply them to Boss. It's everything you want in a coffee. It's fresh tasting and flavorful. It's strong without being bitter. The flash brewing makes it bold without that burnt taste some people associate with dark roasts. (Flash brewing may surprise those who swear by cold brew, as the coffee is brewed hot, then flash-chilled.) Cold Black Coffee is the top pick for true coffee lovers, but Boss also makes a creamy Café au Lait for those who want a sweeter concoction.