Best Fast Food Iced Coffee: Top 5 Brews Most Recommended By Experts

With the never-ending need for caffeine to keep one going throughout the day, fast food iced coffee has become popular among those looking for a quick and refreshing pick-me-up. Its delicious blend of balanced coffee, milk of your choosing, and ice offers a convenient alternative to traditional hot coffee. Whether enjoyed on the go during a busy morning commute, as a quick pick-me-up on a road trip, or as a delightful treat on a sunny afternoon, fast food iced coffee has revolutionized how people enjoy their favorite caffeinated beverage. Not only is it convenient, but it also comes in various flavors and customization options. So whether you like your caffeine on the sweeter side or plain black, there will surely be something for everyone. With its affordability and accessibility making up some of the best fast food iced coffee options on the market, it’s no wonder that it has become a staple for coffee lovers to rejoice in everywhere. 

And coffee lovers should indeed be rejoicing as a new study from Italy reports that people who drink two or three cups of coffee per day have lower blood pressure than those who drink less. To figure it out, a team of scholars analyzed a sample of 720 men and 783 women from the Brisighella Heart Study. They compared blood pressure levels, coffee consumption habits, and other clinical data points for each person. “The results are very clear: peripheral blood pressure was significantly lower in individuals consuming one to three cups of coffee a day than in non-coffee drinkers,” explains study first author Arrigo Cicero, professor at the Department of Medical and Surgical Sciences at the University of Bologna.

These new findings aren’t the only health benefits coffee is toting, however, because a simple cup of joe with milk may protect your body from harmful inflammation, according to researchers from the University of Copenhagen. Their study finds that adding milk to coffee doubles the protective power of the immune cells. When things that don’t belong in the body find their way inside, the body reacts by releasing white blood cells and other substances to take protective action in the form of triggering inflammation. This also happens when we overwhelm our muscles and tendons. The result of said study demonstrated that polyphenols are capable of binding to milk and meat. This is great news for coffee lovers because coffee beans are full of antioxidants, while milk is full of protein. The food industry and food science research community are working toward putting polyphenols to best use, figuring out how to add them to food in just the right amounts in order to maximize their impact.

With even more reason to grab a cup of Joe, we at StudyFinds bring you today’s ranking of the top five best fast food iced coffee for your caffeine fix! Disagree with our list? No worries, we would love to hear from you in the comments down below. 

A glass of iced coffee
A glass of iced coffee (Photo by Demi DeHerrera on Unsplash)

The List: Best Fast Food Iced Coffee, According to Experts

1. Chick-fil-A

First on our list can be surprising, or it can make perfect sense either way; the people have spoken and are big fans of the brew over at Chick-fil-A. “Who would have thought? Chick-fil-A isn’t messing around when it comes to iced coffees. Clocking in at just under three dollars for a small, the chicken chain’s iced blend is ultra creamy with a smooth aftertaste and packs a hint of nuttiness. The coffee flavor is strong—you can still taste it through the optional syrup and milk,” says Eat This, Not That!

“I got the vanilla (as opposed to the regular), and after just one sip, I said to myself, ‘Chick-fil-A came to play!’ The coffee is strong enough that the flavor holds up despite the added syrup, but it’s not bitter-strong; it’s a delicious-good-coffee strong. It was really creamy, and the syrup had a great flavor,” describes All Mom Does.

“It pains me to give Chick-fil-A the top spot in any category, but this is simply the best coffee drink you can get from a fast food drive-thru. You can really tell Chick-fil-A brews its coffee fresh each day; the blend here is rich with a light butterscotch flavor that features a smooth toasted body with distinct citrus top notes that cut through the sweet vanilla syrup,” writes Uproxx.

2. Starbucks

The second spot belongs to the iconic emerald mermaid herself. “It’s not really a surprise that Starbucks would be on any list that includes the word ‘coffee.’ Of course, Starbucks is a pro at all of their iced coffees, but a couple of favorites seem to be the Iced Caramel Macchiato or Iced Vanilla Latte. They also have blended iced coffee options in various flavors if you’re looking for a coffee that resembles the texture of a milkshake. To keep things dairy-free, substitute almond milk for regular milk,” tips Fast Food Menu Prices.

“Ever since Starbucks became popular, there has been one classic, nay iconic, drink that everyone goes back to Starbucks cold brew coffee with your choice of milk. My roommates even carry a large store-bought jug of it in our fridge all year round,” explains Spoon University.

“This was the first variety in the lineup to truly satisfy in terms of strong coffee flavor. Some mentioned that it had a slightly bitter or acidic flavor, but there’s no denying that it would wake you up. The sugar level was overpowering for a few, and some wondered whether vanilla syrup had been added (it hadn’t). Overall, the consensus was that despite the small amount of coffee that comes with a tall order, you get plenty of bang for your buck,” adds Delish.

3. Dunkin’ Donuts

Next up on our ranking belongs to the place that I hear everyone runs on. Yes, you’re right. It’s Dunkin’! “It’s almost unfair to include Dunkin’ on this list as they are — for all intents and purposes — basically a coffee shop. And while the classic complaints remain true about their iced offerings, it’s still the de facto iced coffee option for fast food restaurants,” explains Thrillist.

“The caramel craze continues at Dunkin’. Every Friday at 11 a.m., my friends grab their favorite iced coffee from Dunkin’. They hop in the car, blast Taylor Swift, and go to the drive-thru window. The medium iced caramel swirl with oat milk or almond milk gives them life to get through class and brace for the weekend,” notes Spoon University.

“This coffee had a crisp, light flavor that was enjoyable without being overwhelming. This was definitely the most refreshing iced coffee I tried, and I would absolutely order this again. Interestingly, this was also the cup of coffee that had the largest amount of ice in it. Usually, a lot of ice can lead to a super watery, overly diluted drink, but I was pleasantly surprised that wasn’t the case here,” reports Insider.

4. Tim Hortons

Experts’ next pick turns to a Canadian favorite, though thankfully, as of now, there are 633 locations you can enjoy in the U.S.! “This chain surprised us with an iced coffee that had a nice balance of creaminess and coffee flavor. From sight alone, you could tell that it was heavy on the milk, but the coffee notes still stood out, creating a sweet and satisfying concoction. The sugar level made it feel like a bit of an indulgence, but unlike many other chains, Tim Hortons manages not to overdo it,” says Delish.

“The Canadians among us might consider it fast food coffee blasphemy to have Timmy Horton’s not crack the top three — and admittedly, what the north-of-the-border coffee and donut chain is serving is quite good. For their iced coffee, Tim Horton’s takes its legendary premium blend, chills it, and serves it over ice. It packs a more intense, refreshing punch than a Connor McDavid slapshot and is quite honestly an extremely solid, quick iced coffee option,” says Thrillist.

“This coffee packed a punch of bold acidity and was easy to enjoy black. It appeared to be a medium roast–darker than Bruegger’s but lighter than Starbucks. Maybe this was just the work of the person who prepared this drink, but this iced coffee had by far the least amount of ice. So, while it wasn’t the coldest, it also had the most actual coffee and didn’t become watery after the ice began to melt. I call that a win,” adds Syracuse.

5. McDonald’s 

Last on our ranking goes to the iced cup of joe at the McCafé. “You might know a few people who swear by McDonald’s coffee and always roll up with a cup in hand. Well, believe the hype — McDonald’s coffee is surprisingly good. Yes, that comes down to the fact that, like everything at McDonald’s, the flavored coffee is packed with sugar, but the combination of espresso and vanilla here is buttery and inviting, with a cool, refreshing flavor that is artificial for sure, but not in an off-putting way,” describes Uproxx.

“This is a spot-on cold rendition of Mickey D’s java. Out of all these drinks, it tastes the most like actual coffee. This really dances around your mouth. There’s sweetness on the tip of the tongue and sourness in the back of your throat, but unfortunately, the aftertaste leaves a film that blankets your whole mouth and temporarily shuts down your saliva glands. But since there’s a McDonald’s on every corner in America, this hits the sweet spot of taste and convenience,” states Yahoo! 

“No shock here: McDonald’s McCafé line is heavily advertised and widely available, so it’s a solid option if you’re craving a caffeine hit. It’s highly customizable, and the chain stocks sugar-free syrup, which is nice. While some reviewers contend that this iced coffee is too watery, too sweet, and not coffee-y enough, sometimes the mix is just right, and it’s actually the perfect iced coffee. ‘The quality of the coffee comes down 100% to the employee making it,’ one reviewer wrote. Embrace that frustrating hit-or-miss gamble and drink it quick before the ice melts and dilutes your beverage,” concludes Eat This, Not That!

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Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations.

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About the Author

Jilly Hite

New York raised and Florida-based Jilly Hite studied screenwriting and theatre at The Lee Strasberg Institute before becoming a full time content creator and podcaster. She loves old movies, musical theatre, and her pup Ted.

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