Kitchn Love Letters

I Can’t Start My Mornings Without This $4 Trader Joe’s Find

updated May 26, 2022
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Public Service Announcement for my fellow Trader Joe’s fans who can’t start their mornings without caffeine to the face: If you see this jar of Instant Cold Brew Coffee in the coffee aisle (look for the bright-red cap!), put it into your cart immediately. Ever since this item launched in the fall of 2020, it’s earned itself a huge, loyal following. Unfortunately, all that star power means that it doesn’t last long on shelves.

Credit: Lauren Masur

For just $3.99 you get 3.5 ounces of a fine, dark powder made of 100% Arabica coffee beans. According to the Fearless Flyer, “Our supplier uses an all-natural, proprietary extraction method that took them over two years to develop.” Homemade, big-batch cold brew normally takes 18 to 24 hours to steep, but this extraction method yields results in seconds.

To prepare it, simply stir the serving suggestion of 1 teaspoon into 12 ounces of milk or water until dissolved. The end result is a truly instant cold brew coffee (seriously, it takes less than 30 seconds to whip up) with a satisfying layer of froth on top that mimics one you’d buy at a coffee shop. Take a look at mine (with a splash of oat milk):

Credit: Lauren Masur

While I usually stick to oat milk, if I’m feeling fancy, I blend a spoonful with water, a splash or two of half-and-half, and some brown sugar. I’ve even used it to make that viral whipped coffee everyone was making at the start of quarantine. There are also tons of Starbucks copycat recipes making their rounds around on Trader Joe’s super fan Facebook groups.

If you follow the serving instructions on the back of the bottle (1 teaspoon + 12 ounces of water per glass), you’ll stretch this jar over 22 uses. I’ll do that math for you: That’s roughly 18 cents per iced cold brew. (A heck of a lot cheaper than buying one every day, right?) Full disclosure: I like my morning cup of (Trader) Joe (get it?) on the strong side, so I use closer to a tablespoon. That means less mileage per jar — but still a lot of bang for my buck.

Have you tried Trader Joe’s Instant Cold Brew Coffee? How do you prepare it?