When you think of ice cream flavors, chocolate and vanilla are usually the first to come to mind. But there's a new favorite in town, and it's no surprise considering it's inspired by a drink that millions of Americans drink daily — coffee.
Coffee ice cream may not be a classic, but it has a satisfying rich taste. Coffee is famously bitter, so it helps cut the sweetness of the frozen dessert. The bitter, nutty flavor also pairs well with toppings like chocolate chips, fudge and almonds.
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To find the best coffee ice cream, we put five major ice cream brands and their coffee-flavored selections to the test and ranked them.
Next time you're perusing the frozen dessert aisle, here are the best coffee ice creams to try.
- Best Overall: Häagen-Dazs Coffee Ice Cream (From $4.99, Target)
- Best Value: Tillamook Coffee Almond Fudge Ice Cream (From $3.99, GiantFood)
- Best Vegan: Oatly Coffee Frozen Dessert (From $5.99, Target)
- Best Flavor: Ben & Jerry’s Coffee Coffee BuzzBuzzBuzz! (From $8.06, Amazon)
- Best Dairy-Free: Talenti Cold Brew Coffee Sorbetto (From $5.49, Target)
How We Chose
For this article, I spoke to a registered dietitian who helped pick the best coffee ice creams based on flavor, ingredients and nutrition. We considered reputable brands which are widely available and have received positive feedback from customers.
Finally, I personally tested each of these coffee-flavored ice creams and ranked them in order.
We know not everyone wants to shop for fresh or frozen foods online. You can also find all of these products at various nationwide grocery stores.
1. Best Overall: Häagen-Dazs Coffee Ice Cream
- Calories per serving: 240
I don't usually go for plain ice creams, but registered dietitian Jenna Volpe, RDN, LD, insisted the Häagen-Dazs Coffee Ice Cream is the best — and to my surprise, I came to the same conclusion.
"Häagen-Dazs is by far my favorite go-to brand of coffee ice cream. This is the 'quintessence' of what real ice cream should taste like," Volpe says. "It's incredibly rich, creamy and very satiating!"
This coffee ice cream is made with only five ingredients: cream, skim milk, cane sugar, egg yolks and real coffee. For store-bought ice cream, this set the standard high. The simple ingredients make this choice a great option for those looking to eat fewer artificial additives and preservatives.
Not only that, but it has the perfect coffee flavor with a mild intensity, and it's not quite as sweet as the other options on our list. The creamy consistency and richness can't be beat, which is probably because cream is the first ingredient.
Each serving gives you 20 grams of sugar, which is fairly low as far as ice creams go. You'll also get 410 milligrams of calcium, or roughly 30 percent your Daily Value (DV).
Buy it: Target.com; Price: From $4.99
2. Best Value: Tillamook Coffee Almond Fudge Ice Cream
- Calories per serving: 220
This coffee ice cream made by Tillamook comes in a big 48-ounce tub which at nine servings, gives it great value.
Tillamook prides itself on having the creamiest ice cream "that simply tastes better" because it "has more cream," — how much is more? We couldn't tell you. Though, the claim about creaminess checks out.
This coffee ice cream has a delightful, creamy smoothness thanks to the cream, milk and egg yolks in it. It also contains egg yolks, which add to the creaminess. But what sets this one apart from the others is the yummy mix-ins: chocolatey fudge and little pieces of chopped almonds.
Personally, I think the coffee flavoring pairs extremely well with the fudge and almonds. As a chocolate lover, this was something I felt was missing from other brands. Coffee has a naturally nutty flavor, so the almonds are a nice touch that also adds crunch. It's not overly sweet, and it doesn't have too many almonds disrupting the smooth texture.
At 22 grams of sugar per serving, you can enjoy this ice cream in moderation as part of a nutritious diet. This one also has the fewest carbs out of all those on our list, with 23 grams per serving.
Buy it: GiantFood; Price: From $3.99
3. Best Vegan: Oatly Coffee Frozen Dessert
- Calories per serving: 210
For a truly vegan-friendly coffee ice cream, look no further than Oatly's Coffee Non-Dairy Frozen Dessert. Oat milk replaces the cream for a nutritious swap that cuts calories and fat without compromising taste or texture.
I personally think cashew milk ice cream has the closest resemblance to dairy-based ice cream as far as vegan options go. Those made with almond or soy milk are almost always too coarse and grainy for my liking.
While cashew milk is still my plant-based milk for frozen desserts, I have to say that this vegan coffee ice cream delivered a silky, satisfying scoop. It meets a lot of Volpe's criteria for a good coffee ice cream — noticeable coffee flavor, creamy consistency and smooth texture.
One thing to note: After testing multiple coffee-flavored ice creams, I found the coffee flavor in this one to be less intense. It may not be bold enough for those that enjoy black coffee or a bolder coffee flavor.
Because it's not made with cream, this option has the fewest calories, fat and sugar out of all those on our list. A serving gives you 210 calories, 12 grams of fat and 18 grams of sugar.
Buy It: Target.com; Price: From $5.99
4. Best Flavor: Ben & Jerry’s Coffee Coffee BuzzBuzzBuzz!
- Calories per serving: 350
Ben & Jerry's is one of my favorite ice cream brands because of the variety of flavors and mix-ins. The brand offers multiple coffee flavors to choose from, but this one has a base of coffee ice cream with espresso and fudge mix-ins — perfect for a true coffee lover.
I'm not a fan of espresso beans, so I was worried this would be too strong for me. My suspicions were correct — the coffee flavor is strong with this one. I suspect that this is because it's made with coffee extract instead of real coffee like the others. But it works. It's also darker than the others, which nods to its intensity.
The chocolate flavor from the fudge is very mild in this one, but the espresso chunks add a dimension that the other coffee ice creams lack. It gets another point for having cream as the first ingredient.
Ben and Jerry's is a little heavier than other options on our list, offering 350 calories and 32 grams of sugar per serving. That said, it also has the most protein of the bunch with 6 grams per serving.
5. Best Dairy-Free: Talenti Cold Brew Coffee Sorbetto
- Calories: 280
While not technically ice cream, this Talenti coffee-flavored Sorbetto is a dairy-free option. However, it's not vegan since it contains eggs.
This delectable option from Talenti is made from fair-trade Brazilian and Colombian cold-brewed coffee blended into a refreshing non-dairy dessert your tastebuds will love.
"I would recommend the Talenti Cold Brew Coffee Dairy Free Frozen Sorbetto for someone who's looking for a really great dairy-free coffee ice cream made with minimally processed ingredients," Volpe says. And she's right — the ingredients list is surprisingly short. It does contain gums and dextrose, but no high-fructose corn syrup.
Dairy-free coffee ice creams can be hit or miss due to the texture, but this one has eggs in it which lend richness to it. The smooth dessert is free of mix-ins, and it's one-note coffee flavor is one true coffee lovers will surely enjoy.
This Italian-inspired dessert gives you 280 calories and 31 grams of sugar per serving.
Buy it: Target.com; Price: From $5.49
What to Look for in Coffee Ice Cream
When choosing ice cream, take these words of advice from our experts.
There's a reason why the taste, texture and nutritional values of ice cream brands vary greatly — they're made with different ingredients. Volpe recommends choosing an ice cream with a short ingredient list.
"I generally prefer products that use only a few simple, real-food ingredients," Volpe says. She recommends avoiding artificial sweeteners, sugar alcohols, fillers and preservatives.
The best coffee ice creams will usually list cream (or a non-dairy milk) as the first ingredient.
When you want something nutrient-dense, you may reach for a fruit smoothie or steaming plate of veggies. It simply isn't ice cream's job to act like a multivitamin. Still, you can consider the nutrition in your coffee ice cream when making a choice.
Ice cream tends to be high in calories, sugar, carbohydrates and fat. But it can also be a surprising source of nutrients like protein and calcium.
Volpe recommends enjoying ice cream in moderation. "I believe if we're going to eat ice cream, we may be better off eating the real, full-fat version, which is delicious, satisfying and satiating," she says. "Eating things you love mindfully encourages you to have a healthy relationship with food."
Taste and Texture
Some ice creams taste better than others and can even feel better on the tongue, but this ultimately comes down to personal preference. Most prefer a creamy ice cream (hence the name), and it's no surprise that cream-based ice creams meet this criteria.
Consider factors that may matter to you, like smoothness and flavor intensity. Mix-ins — and lack thereof — can really affect the taste and texture of your coffee ice cream.
One thing to keep in mind is that coffee ice cream made with real coffee or coffee/espresso beans may have a small amount of caffeine, which may be best avoided at night. If you're sensitive to caffeine, try eating it earlier in the day.
While coffee ice cream is a concentrated source of calories, fat and sugar, you can absolutely enjoy it in moderation.The flavor of coffee works well in your morning cup of joe and in ice cream, just be mindful about how much you're eating.