Blue Bottle Iced Coffee vs Stumptown Cold Brew With Milk

Blue Bottle vs Stumptown
Blue Bottle NOLA Iced Coffee
This is about the pre-packaged Iced Coffee that you see in the image above. Not the one they make fresh in the store. Although, to be honest, you'd be hard pressed to tell the difference.

When I first spotted this little white carton at our local Whole Foods, I quickly grabbed two (along with the morbidly tasting Stumptown offering and threw them in my basket.

I must have looked the fool, salivating as I was at the checkout - but damnit, this is Blue Bottle. Their stores are amazing. I was hoping to not be disappointed by the packaged version.

I wasn't.

Immediately the same intensity of flavor came rushing back to me as I imagined drinking it in the long open hall of San Francisco's Ferry Building on the Embarcadero. This was a version worthy of the label.

Yes, at $4 a carton, it's substantially more than the gasoline I put in my car to make it to Whole Foods - but it was still worth it.

First, the Blue Bottle Coffee is not over-roasted. It's smooth. Over-roasted beans are the hallmark of bad quality. After all, if you burn a high quality steak vs a Wal-Mart clearance cut - they'll taste the same - burnt. It's the same with coffee.

But there is no hiding quality when properly roasted. The Chicory adds that mature smokiness and a subtle smoothness that you only get from, well, Chicory. Finally, it's sweetened, but not overly. Just enough to round out the flavor - not overwhelm the palette. Further, it's 100% Organic. Coffee, Sugar, Chicory, Milk - all of it is Organic, so it gives you that added level of comfort.

Now lets turn our focus to the competitor:

Stumptown Iced Coffee with Milk
Some things are "all that."

This is all "not that."

Spinning it around you can see the ingredients list carrageenan - an extender. One that many people are considering as bad for you. That aside, it makes for a watery taste and a slimy feel on the tongue. It's decidedly weak, unnaturally textured and overly sweet. It gets nothing right. Maybe it should be called Iced Coffee with Milk and other stuff.

At the same $4 a carton the only thing it wins out on is quantity - as it has about 50% more stuff in it. But it won't matter. You won't want to finish it.

In the head to head contest of Blue Bottle vs Stumptown, there is not even a fight. Even if you can't get Blue Bottle where you live (and most likely, you can't) I still wouldn't buy the Stumptown offering.

It's not that it's bad. It's decidedly average and deserving of it's 2.5/5.0 rating. I just don't like that it masquerades as something special. Packaging alone (which is beautiful) doesn't create quality. It just creates good marketing.

Our own Metarie Avenue Iced Coffee recipe shares the same inspiration as Blue Bottle's (New Orleans) and is far superior than Stumptown. In fact, I can't tell the difference between our recipe and the packaged Blue Bottle when made with the same quality milk.

To me the choice is simple. Blue Bottle Iced Coffee for convenience. But, make your own when you don't want to pay so much, can't find it in your area, or need to have an alternate milk base.