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I Tried Iced Coffee From McDonald's, Tim Hortons, Starbucks & Wendy's — One Was Easily Better

Iced coffee is always in season.

A photo of iced coffee from McDonald's, Wendy's, Starbucks and Tim Hortons lined atop a kitchen counter.

A photo of iced coffee from McDonald's, Wendy's, Starbucks and Tim Hortons lined atop a kitchen counter.

Mike Chaar | MTL Blog

If there's one thing that I can't live without, it's iced coffee. Whether it's a blistering July summer day or the middle of January when temps dip below 20 degrees Celsius, an iced coffee is always in order.

From the blend of coffee, cold brew or a double-strength hot brew over ice, or brewed and chilled to perfection, an iced coffee hits every. single. time. In my opinion, the key to the quintessential iced coffee is achieving a smooth and flavourful base that touches your soul when it first meets your lips. Not to mention how the swift motion of the ice swirling in your cup as you mix it up is like music to the ears.

I personally love a sweetener and dairy alternative to enhance the iced coffee experience. In fact, I wholeheartedly recommend playing around with different creamers or flavourings that offer an invigorating twist to your mornings. And afternoons. And nights. Since there really isn't a bad time for iced coffee. Like…ever.

Now, while I love to make my own iced coffee at home, there are times when I gotta rely on a café or fast food spot for my iced coffee fix. Considering the endless amount of choices, it can be tough to narrow down exactly where to grab your iced coffee from.

With fast food restaurants across Canada such as McCafé at McDonald's and the Canadian classic, Tim Hortons, offering up various iced coffee beverages, I wanted to see which of them did an iced coffee best.

I decided to order a simple and classic medium iced coffee with milk and sugar from McDonald's, Tim Hortons, Starbucks, and Wendy's to see which of the four fast food restaurants makes the best iced coffee.

To determine the winning iced coffee, I compared the overall look, taste and price of each and turns out…one is definitely better than the rest.

So, which fast food iced coffee reigns supreme? Let's find out.

Iced Coffee Showdown

A photo of iced coffee from McDonald's, Wendy's, Starbucks and Tim Hortons lined up together.

A photo of iced coffee from McDonald's, Wendy's, Starbucks and Tim Hortons lined up together.

Mike Chaar | MTL Blog

At first glance, I immediately took note of the different variations of the size "medium" from McDonald's, Starbucks, Tim Hortons and Wendy's. While Timmies and McDonald's had relatively same-sized cups, the Wendy's cup was much taller, whereas the Starbucks "grande" towered over all of them.

Another instant observation was the colour of each iced coffee. Tim Hortons and Wendy's were the lightest, while McDonald's offered up the creamy coffee brown that I love, while Starbucks' iced coffee was significantly darker than the rest.

But how did they taste? That's what I was most looking forward to discovering.

Wendy's Iced Coffee — WORST

An iced coffee from Wendy's.

An iced coffee from Wendy's.

Mike Chaar | MTL Blog

Price: $3.73 (after tax)

I had never tried the iced coffee from Wendy's before and it is safe to say that I likely won't ever again. Now hear me out. I love Wendy's. The Baconator? Iconic. The Wendy's Frosty? Unreal. And the Wendy's baked potato? Life changing. But the iced coffee? Never again.

I instantly knew this wasn't going to be to my liking simply from the colour. The overall coffee colour was far too light, which meant there was either too much milk or too much sweetener and turns out, there was too much of both. It was way too sweet for me to even make it past three to four sips before I was a bit nauseated. The only thing I did enjoy about the Wendy's iced coffee was that it was served in a transparent cup.

Oh, and not to mention it was way too overpriced.

Score: 2/5

Wendy's menu

Starbucks Iced Coffee — OKAY

An iced coffee from Starbucks.

An iced coffee from Starbucks.

Mike Chaar | MTL Blog

Price: $6.88 (after tax)

I'm going to get the price out of the way first because the iced coffee from Starbucks was nearly three times more expensive than the other fast food restaurants. I totally get it's bigger than the rest, but damn…it isn't three times bigger to reflect that 300% price difference.

Nevertheless, the taste was pretty good. It wasn't too sweet, or too bitter, and the ice-to-liquid ratio was also respectable, so if it weren't for that ridiculous price point, then this would have been the runner-up.

Score: 3/5

Starbucks Canada menu

McDonald's Iced Coffee — OKAY

An iced coffee from McDonald's.

An iced coffee from McDonald's.

Mike Chaar | MTL Blog

Price: $2.98 (after tax)

I had high hopes for the McDonald's iced coffee since the times I've gotten it before have always been delightful. But upon diligent inspection and many sips of Ronald's iced coffee, I was slightly disappointed over how coffee-flavoured it was. "Uh yeah, that's 'cause it's an iced COFFEE." Hey, I get it. I do, but again, the perfect iced coffee is about that harmonious blend of flavours, and when one flavour overpowers the rest, it throws the whole balance off, y'know? Also, why was I given a fountain drink cup?

At least it was under $3.00, and while I preferred the flavour of the Starbucks iced coffee more, I much prefer the price point at McDonald's, especially considering the overall taste was okay. And by okay, I mean I could still drink this and enjoy it but still know that there's better out here. Can I afford better right now? No, but one day.

Score: 3.5/5

McDonald's Canada menu

Tim Hortons Iced Coffee — BEST

An iced coffee from Tim Hortons.

An iced coffee from Tim Hortons.

Mike Chaar | MTL Blog

Price: $2.86 (after tax)

Oh, Tim Hortons. I knew you wouldn't leave me hanging. I was slightly worried considering the colour of the coffee was lighter than what I normally like, but I must admit, the taste was delectable and that price point? Hello! We love a steal.

The coffee was just the right amount of sweetness and still offered a heavy coffee flavour without taking over the entire beverage. Not to mention the easy-to-drink lid made it easy for me to walk and sip. And as mentioned before, the ice-to-liquid ratio is super important, and Tim Hortons got it perfect. I also managed to finish the iced coffee before any of the else could really melt, so there were no issues regarding any dilution.

Score: 5/5

Tim Hortons menu

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