Finally, Someone Made Canned Coffee That Doesn’t Suck

A Boston-based company worked with an MIT engineer to make canned iced coffee isn’t awful.


Ryan McDonnell of Elemental Beverage Co. knows freshly brewed coffee is the best way to drink coffee; but he also knows it’s not always the best option. If the office brewer is a Keurig, you’re on a plane or the minutes required to brew a pot is too high a price, that’s when you reach for something ready-to-drink at all times. As chief coffee and tea officer at the new Boston-based company, McDonnell didn’t want to make a product with added milk, sugar or stabilizers, he wanted to make cold, canned coffee that wasn’t completely stale when you open it.

Elemental Beverage’s first run of single origin ready-to-drink coffees launched at this year’s Specialty Coffee Expo. The initial lot includes offerings from three of the most popular origins in specialty coffee — Ethiopia, Burundi and Colombia — and sells online for $30 a six-pack.

Unlike most shelf-stable, canned coffees, Elemental elected not to cold brew its coffee, opting instead to brew large batches at a traditional coffee-to-water ratio and pushing the brew through the company’s Snapchiller (a machine the company invented specifically to chill coffee quickly in a café setting).

McDonnell says the bane of most canned coffee — cold brewed or otherwise — is oxygen. Elemental skirts the issue by employing nitrogen flushing (a process used to remove oxygen from food packaging, increasing shelf stability) at every step of the production process. He says the shorter brew time that comes with hot brewing makes for a less-oxidized beverage than cold brewed coffee, too (an opinion common among coffee experts).

Beyond freshness, it’s rare to find a canned coffee product that can claim single origin status. Most err on the side of blends from many different origins in order to keep costs down.

Elemental Beverage’s canned single origin coffees are available now through its site. They’re good to drink for four months after refrigeration.

Buy Now: $30 for a 6-pack

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Assistant Editor, Home and Design Will Price is Gear Patrol’s home and drinks editor.
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