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The Great Brew Debate: Unveiling the Real Difference Between Canned and Bottled Coffee

Canned vs. bottled coffee: Beyond the container, is there a real difference?

For coffee lovers, the convenience of buying their favorite brew in cans or bottles is a game changer. No longer do they have to rely on daily trips to coffee shops; instead, they can stock up on their favorite brand and enjoy it at their own convenience. However, there has always been a lingering question among coffee enthusiasts – is there a real difference between canned and bottled coffee, aside from the container itself? In this article, we delve into the details to uncover the truth.

The Container’s Effect on Flavor

Not surprisingly, the container in which coffee is stored can significantly affect its flavor. Let’s start with canned coffee. Some companies, such as Blue Bottle Coffee, use aluminum cans for packaging. While aluminum cans have their advantages, they also have disadvantages. In the case of canned coffee, the lining used in aluminum cans can absorb some of the flavors, resulting in a slightly altered taste. Wired writer Ramona Emerson describes the taste of canned coffee as a mix of “Swiss Miss and metal,” which can be attributed to the contact between your mouth and the can as you take a sip. Peter Giuliano, owner of Counter Culture Coffee, adds that canned coffee is manufactured, not handcrafted, emphasizing the difference in quality compared to freshly brewed coffee. But if you don’t mind the subtle metallic notes, canned coffee has its advantages. It tends to be fresh because it is vacuum-sealed, and it has a longer shelf life, resisting spoilage for up to two years.
Bottled coffee, on the other hand, is typically packaged in glass containers. Glass not only provides durability, but also preserves the flavor of the beverage due to its airtight seal. Unlike aluminum cans, glass does not affect the taste of coffee. In fact, some coffee experts believe that coffee tastes even sweeter when consumed from a glass bottle. Chris Chacko, owner of Sparrow Coffee, notes that glass bottles actually enhance the taste of coffee. In addition, opened bottles of coffee should be refrigerated immediately and consumed within 12 hours to maintain freshness. Refrigeration can also enhance flavor, especially for bottled iced coffees or Frappuccinos. The presence of a lid on bottled coffee allows for easy portability and the ability to save the beverage for later, unlike opened cans.

The Taste Test: Starbucks’ Canned and Bottled Offerings

Starbucks, a prominent coffee manufacturer, has ventured into both canned and bottled coffee products. Mashed conducted a study to evaluate the taste of various Starbucks beverages in these two formats. The results revealed some interesting findings. The bottled Caramel Macchiato Iced Espresso took the top spot as the most preferred Starbucks drink, while the canned Starbucks Triple Shot Zero Sugar Milk Chocolate was the least preferred.
These findings underscore the fact that taste preferences can vary between canned and bottled coffee. While some consumers may enjoy the convenience and freshness of canned coffee, others may prefer the enhanced flavor and airtight preservation offered by bottled coffee.

The bottom line: The choice is yours

The choice between canned and bottled coffee comes down to personal preference. The container plays a crucial role in the taste and overall experience of the beverage. Canned coffee may have a slightly altered flavor due to the interaction between coffee and aluminum, but it offers convenience and longer shelf life. On the other hand, bottled coffee in glass containers preserves the flavor and can even enhance the taste, although it requires refrigeration after opening.
Whether you prefer the subtle metallic notes of canned coffee or the supposedly sweeter taste of a glass jar, the choice is yours. It’s worth exploring different brands and experimenting with both options to find the one that best suits your palate and lifestyle. So go ahead, grab a can or bottle of your favorite brew and savor every sip, knowing that your choice of container adds its own unique flavor to the coffee experience.


What is the main difference between canned and bottled coffee?

The main difference is the container used for packaging. Canned coffee is usually packaged in aluminum cans, while bottled coffee is usually packaged in glass bottles.

Does the container affect the taste of the coffee?

Yes, the container can affect the flavor of the coffee. Aluminum cans can absorb some flavors, resulting in a slightly altered taste, while glass bottles preserve the flavor and may even enhance it.

What type of coffee has a longer shelf life?

Canned coffee generally has a longer shelf life than bottled coffee. Due to vacuum sealing, canned coffee can resist spoilage for up to two years.

Can I save opened canned or bottled coffee for later use?

Opened bottled coffee can be stored for later consumption if refrigerated and consumed within 12 hours. However, opened canned beverages are not suitable for canning because they do not have a sealable lid.

Are there taste differences between canned and bottled coffee of the same brand?

Yes, there may be taste differences between canned and bottled coffee of the same brand. Factors such as container material and manufacturing process can contribute to flavor variations.

Which Starbucks beverage ranked highest in the canned/bottled taste test?

In the taste test, Starbucks bottled Caramel Macchiato Iced Espresso was the most preferred drink, while Starbucks canned Triple Shot Zero Sugar Milk Chocolate was the least preferred.

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