Today’s best coffees are valued for flavor — not caffeine content. The best baristas know this and spend years trying to master the art of extraction. Opposite this is the idea that coffee can be viewed as an ingredient — and one that pairs well with more than just milk and sugar. The latest trend? Coffee soda. While not an entirely new category (Manhattan Special espresso soda dates back to 1895), these carbonated drinks taste more like a flavor-infused seltzer, with bright citrus flavors that cut through coffee’s natural bitterness. Below, find three labels spearheading the craze, and keep an eye out for more launching soon (like Nashville-based Matchless).
Upruit Meyer Lemonade Sparkling Cold Brew
The most lemonade-y of the bunch, Upruit mixes cold-pressed fruit juice with a house-roasted cold brew. The beans are acquired through an organization that supports fair and sustainable farming practices. Himalayan pink salt and organic maple syrup are added for electrolyte restoration and a natural hit of sweetness.
Tastes like: tangy lemonade with a slight coffee bitterness
Other flavors: Tart Cherry
Stumptown Original Sparkling Cold Brew
Stumptown’s brew drinks more like soda than seltzer, with a surprisingly dense liquid and almost puckering sweetness. In a nod to the Manhattan Special, Stumptown’s Original flavor is made with carbonated cold brew, cane sugar and a touch of lemon. The Ginger Citrus riffs on ginger beer (and is comparably sweet), and the Honey Citrus can is inspired by the classic Arnold Palmer. While not sold online, the drink can be found at Stumptown locations and select Whole Foods markets.
Tastes like: heavily sugared coffee (like, cola-sweet with a slightly syrupy viscosity) with a squeeze of lemon
Other flavors: Ginger Citrus, Honey Lemon
Keepers Citrus Coffee Soda
Of the three coffee sodas sampled, Keepers sips most like a seltzer. It’s more heavy-handed on the citrus, too, mixing tangerine, lime and lemon juices with Japanese-style flash-brewed Ethiopian coffee and a smidge of sugar. Sweet-tart tangerine citrus is the soda’s unmistakable top note, but the coffee flavor still shines through in a refreshing and crave-able way.
Tastes like: a mix of citrus juices — tangerine, with notes of grapefruit and lime — with a slight coffee bitterness
Other flavors: None