Who has the best cold brew in NYC?

Where to go for your daily caffeine fix


A day without cold brew is a day wasted. Cold brew is like iced coffee’s better sibling. Regular iced coffee is brewed the same as hot coffee and then refrigerated. Ice is added before it is served. Cold brew coffee is brewed with room temperature or cold water for 12-24 hours. This process is supposed to create a mellower brew with less acidity and an overall smooth and well-rounded taste.

I embarked on a journey to find the best cold brew in all of Manhattan. I tried a different cold brew every morning for a week (and a few midday brews as well) to find the best of the best.

The contenders:

Starbucks Cold Brew

Ah, Starbucks. Branded as the “basic” coffee, Starbucks was the obvious place to start my cold brew craze. I found their cold brew to be well, basic, but I mean that in a good way. The strong, bold beverage has hints of caramel and chocolate. It is super smooth, as a cold brew should be. Personally, I like to add some of their vanilla bean powder (where can I find that in bulk??) as it adds some sweetness with flavor.

Starbucks Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Brew

Starbucks Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Brew

Starbucks vanilla sweet cream cold brew

This mouthful of a name is simply the regular Starbucks cold brew with their house-made vanilla sweetcream added in. This is a great alternative to a boring vanilla iced coffee with milk. Not too sweet, this creation still has that strong coffee flavor you crave at 3 p.m. It kind of tastes like you added half and half to your cold brew, but with a vanilla flavor and is not as heavy as half and half can be sometimes.

Gregory's Cold Brew

Gregory’s Cold Brew

Gregory’s Cold Brew

Gregory’s is down the block from my office, so it was a no brainer. Their cold brew has notes of chocolate and is not acidic at all, so it didn’t require any sugar or milk to counteract it. Maybe it’s because I drink my coffee black, but their coffee is quite strong and I feel like I’m sucking down a lot of caffeine, but who’s complaining about that at 8 a.m.?

Blue Bottle Single Origin Cold Brew

Blue Bottle offers two cold brew options. The first is the Single Origin cold brew. Their menu describes this option as “complex and refreshing” and that certainly rings true. With zero acidity or bitterness, this coffee gives straight flavor. It is served black over two large ice cubes, which makes for a less diluted cup of coffee as the large cubes melt slower than normal sized ones. I like to enjoy my cold brew with a ginger molasses cookie, which evokes holiday cheer even in the middle of summer.

Blue Bottle New Orleans Cold Brew

Blue Bottle New Orleans Cold Brew

Blue Bottle New Orleans Cold Brew

The second option is the New Orleans cold brew. This one’s for the light-coffee folk out there. The New Orleans cold brew is served with milk and cane sugar. Notes of roasted chicory give a complex flavor to this sweeter and lighter drink. Although I prefer my coffee black, I enjoyed this alternative and still felt like my caffeine fix was satisfied.

Stumptown Cold Brew

Stumptown Cold Brew

Stumptown Cold Brew

Stumptown’s cold brew comes in many variations, such as with coconut milk, regular milk, and nitro (more on that later). As a first-timer, I went for their regular cold brew. Although it was smooth, I found their brew to be pretty acidic with a bitter aftertaste. After a couple of sips I had to add milk to cut the acidity. On the bright side, their banana chocolate muffins are delicious.

Stumptown Nitro Cold Brew

Stumptown Nitro Cold Brew

Stumptown Nitro Cold Brew

Nitro cold brew is the latest and greatest of all coffee inventions. Nitro cold brew is created by infusing regular cold brew with nitrogen. This creates a frothy drink that is smooth and refreshing. Although I’m not a fan of Stumptown’s regular cold brew, their nitro is a great alternative. I did not need to add anything to this refreshing drink. The perfect refreshment on a hot summer day or a reward after a long meeting, nitro cold brew is like a refreshing Guinness beer, but better- it’s coffee!

Brooklyn Roasting Company Cold Brew

With a line out the door and “Brooklyn” in their name, I figured their cold brew would be out of this world. It was smooth and bold, just like the barista who talked me into buying a croissant to accompany my morning coffee. With hints of citrus and chicory, this understated brew certainly delivered the refreshing flavor I needed, but I had to add some sweetener to counteract the bitterness that I experienced. The buttery croissant counteracted the bitterness as well, and I would go back there just for that.

Brooklyn Roasting Company Nitro Cold Brew

Brooklyn Roasting Company Nitro Cold Brew

Brooklyn Roasting Company Nitro Cold Brew

As the old saying goes, I came back here for a croissant and walked out with a nitro. I decided to give Brooklyn Roasting Company another chance and figured if it’s bad, at least I’ll have a great breakfast out of it. I was talked into trying this fizzy drink and figured I would do it for you guys. Their nitro is ten times better than their regular cold brew. I recommend you get yourself to the nearest BRC and order one of these. Don’t be afraid to let yourself be talked into getting a croissant as well.

The winner:

Blue Bottle Single Origin Cold Brew

For the best brew in town, head to your nearest Blue Bottle Coffee location (mine is located on 40th street, between 5th and 6th avenue). The baristas are friendly and the customers are loyal. I like to enjoy my drink sitting in Bryant Park, nibbling on a ginger molasses cookie and enjoying the sunshine before I start my day. As I finish the last sip, I look forward to my delicious cold brew tomorrow morning.

Blue Bottle Single Origin Cold Brew

Blue Bottle Single Origin Cold Brew