NY Mag points out, when you’re dropping $3.50 plus per cup, it gets to be a spendy habit. I've tried making my own at home with this recipe, but I'm sure I got my proportions wrong because it turned out a lot weaker than planned, let's be honest, I rarely have the patience for recipes that involve 24 hour advance planning especially when you're talking about coffee. I’ve been a fan of Grady’s Cold Brew concentrate, but when I saw that Trader Joe's was getting in the cold brew concentrate game, I had to do a head-to-head...
If I were a super organized food blogger I'd have sexy shots of me pouring the milk into frosty glasses of iced coffee, but, well, I have an infant and a toddler and unfolded clean laundry everywhere, so you'll just have to imagine. Are you visualizing two unmarked glasses of iced coffee? Good.
In one corner we have Grady’s Cold Brew, "a New Orleans–style" coffee concentrate that’s brewed and packed into nifty brown bottles in Brooklyn, NY. There’s no sugar in Grady’s but it’s brewed with chicory which lends a natural sweetness. You prepare Grady's with a 1:1 ratio, adding either milk or water to dilute it. You can find Grady’s in 16 ounce bottles or 32 ounces bottles which have four and eight servings respectively at a variety of stores around the city. They’re available at Union Market, Whole Foods and Fairway. The bottles retail at Union Market for $7 for the small and $14 for the large.
In the other corner we have a plastic 32 ounce bottle from Trader Joe's which touts that it was brewed from Arabica beans. The Trader Joe's is shelf stable, so it doesn't require refrigeration until you open it. Once opened you have 30 days to use it. The instructions on the TJ's bottle recommends 1 part concentrate to 2 parts milk or water and advertises 8 to 12 eight ounce servings from a 32 ounce bottle. Oh, and it's $7.99.
But how do they taste? I won't keep you in suspense any longer. In a direct match up Grady's easily beats TJ in my book. Grady's concentrate is smoother. I don't sweeten my coffee but I do like that bit of sweetness from the chicory in Grady's. That said cold brew from TJ's is $7.99 for 12 servings and Grady's is $14 for 8 servings. By the second cup of TJ's, it was starting to grow on me. But here's the thing. The Trader Joe's concentrate tasted like a cold brew coffee that I could imagine myself making at home with the correct ratio of H2O to beans. I'm not as convinced I could replicate my own "New Orleans style" cold brew without some practice. Grady's tastes like a treat to me and if I'm splurging by buying a concentrate instead of fully committing to DIY for my coffee break, then I'm going to go with what tastes best to me, so it's Grady's for the win.