A cold brew is a refreshingly chill way to kick start your day. If you want the distinctive profile cold brewing offers but prefer warm coffee, you can always heat it—it’s versatile stuff! Continue reading for more information about the best coffee for cold brew.
Choosing the best coffee for cold brew can be more complicated than it looks. Will any type of coffee work? Does it have to be a particular roast?
We answer these questions and more in our comprehensive buyer’s guide. You can then review five carefully-chosen coffee beans for cold brew to find the right one for you.
Cold Brew Buying Guide
If you’ve never attempted to prepare cold brew, let’s discuss a few facts about this style of coffee first.
First, it isn’t a matter of icing or cooling down the drink—cold brewing refers to a preparation style.
The most popular method is immersion, in which Java beans are ground and then soaked for a minimum of ten hours at room temperature.
The slow drip or drip technique is a little more finicky, although it only takes five to six hours. Ice-cold water drips onto a coffee bed, and the resultant liquid that drips through into a container is your cold brew.
Cold brewing decreases the acidity of the coffee, which makes it easier on the stomach. As there’s a higher coffee-to-water ratio, the caffeine content is usually higher than with hot coffee.
You can buy an appliance for the purpose, or make your DIY cold brew and grind the beans yourself. Although most people enjoy cold brews chilled over ice, you can also warm the coffee up for a hot drink.
Now that we’re clear on that, let’s delve into what to look for in the best coffee for cold brew:
The Right Roast
In theory, you can pick any roast: light, medium, or dark. However, dark roasts are ideal candidates as they tend to have lower caffeine content and higher flavor profiles.
Remember that cold brewing intensifies caffeine, but can also alter flavor profile. You might find that your favorite light or medium roast is underwhelming when cold-brewed, or tastes different.
Still, nothing is set in stone—just take into account the characteristics of the roast you’re using. The strength and roast play significant roles in determining how long you should brew it for.
Can You Use Ground Coffee for Cold Brew?
Super-fine ground coffee can result in unpleasant, gritty sediment in your cold brew. If you don’t want the hassle of grinding your beans using a grind and brew coffee maker, look for ground coffee made for cold brewing.
On that note, you’ll want to seek out coarser, denser coffee beans. That will limit the risk of finely-ground coffee particles we mentioned.
Type of Beans
Robusta and Arabica are the two primary types of beans and are often paired together in many coffee blends. Robusta takes the lead in caffeine content, but Arabica is touted as superior, where it concerns flavor.
Arabica is smoother and more mellow, whereas Robusta is grainier and more intense with bitter notes. For this reason, you’ll rarely find Robusta beans alone—well-rounded Arabica helps even them out.
Single vs. Blended Origins
You’ll see some brands boasting a single-origin blend, meaning all the beans come from one place. There’s nothing inherently wrong with blended coffee: a mix of various beans can be distinctly tasty for certain drinks.
However, as cold brewing can draw out flavors, you might better appreciate the distinct taste of single-origin beans.
Don’t forget that brewing immersion-style takes more time than the slow-drip tactic. Insufficient or excessive brewing time for your specific beans can lead to a bitter, unpleasant taste.
Certifications and Sustainability
If sustainability is important to you, look for packages labeled as Fair Trade or Rainforest Alliance certified. Those of you who are conscious of toxins and contaminants might want to opt for USDA organic coffee beans.
Cold Brew Tips
We’ll leave you with some tips for your cold-brewing journey:
Quality equipment: Invest in a quality cold brew coffee maker and grinder, if you want to grind beans yourself.
Read the label: Follow brewing instructions and suggestions on the package for your chosen cold brew coffee.
Clean water: Use filtered water rather than plain tap water, which can contain contaminants, for a clean cold brew.
Get creative: If you find the final product lacking, experiment with the water ratio (for immersion) or brewing time.
The 5 Best Coffee Beans for Cold Brew
Stone Street delivers this dark roast Columbian blend crafted for cold brewing. The beans are 100 percent Columbian Supremo for a rich, slightly sweet taste with no acidity.
Not only does the bag have three foil layers, but it also has a one-way degassing valve. You’ll smell the preserved scent of freshly-roasted beans right out of the package.
Stone Street roasts beans in small batches to maintain flavor and quality. The company is also fair trade and practices sustainable sourcing.
Unfortunately, all these attractive features aren’t cheap—Cold Brew Reserve is decidedly more expensive than other competitors on our list.
- Bold, rich flavor
- Packed to preserve freshness
- Coarse grind
- Pricier than some options
Tiny Footprint can’t be beaten if you value sustainability—it boasts a carbon-negative footprint. The company donates part of its proceeds to support reforestation in Ecuador’s Mindo cloud forest.
Cold Press Elixir is double-certified as organic by the USDA and OneCert. It’s also fair trade, and each batch is test-roasted and test-tasted before getting approved for purchase.
The roasting process is equally diligent: Tiny Footprint uses a 1960’s vintage roaster to craft-roast each batch to achieve optimal flavor. Interestingly, this ground coffee is a mix of light and dark roasts. For more information on the best roaster for your home check out our review!
Unfortunately, if you’re craving bolder flavors, the subtle pure Arabica blend might fall short. The flavor profile is quite subtle, with discreet floral, fruity tones in a rounded cocoa body.
- Carbon negative footprint
- 100 percent Arabica beans
- Craft roasted
- Some may find the flavor bland
Bizzy Organic’s Smooth & Sweet Cold Brew Coffee is pre-ground to save you the trouble. The package includes detailed instructions to get the most out of your cold brew.
This medium roast cold brew is silky-smooth with a pleasant sweetness to it. The Arabica beans, sustainability sourced, have hazelnut and caramel notes.
Bitterness and acidity are all but nonexistent. Despite the mellow taste, you can expect to get a good caffeine dose with the Smooth & Sweet Cold Brew.
Watch out if your cold brew maker demands coarser grinds. Some buyers report that this organic coffee tends to leave unwanted grit behind as the grind is on the finer side.
- Sweet caramel and hazelnut undertones
- Sustainable and organic
- No bitterness or acidity
- Might leave sediment behind
If you’re torn between cold brew and standard coffee, this versatile ground coffee can fill the gap. Buyers report it’s equally tasty hot as it is cold.
History buffs will appreciate the background behind this brand. Café du Monde is a New Orleans landmark that has stood in the French Market for over 100 years.
The coarse grind of this ground coffee is great for cold brewing: there’s little risk of getting a mouthful of grit. The rich flavor with powerful chicory notes preserves well, and won’t get subdued by the brewing process.
If you aren’t a fan of chicory or intensely-flavored coffees, you might want to skip this one.
- Can be brewed hot too
- Exceptional flavor
- Coarse grind
- Chicory taste can be off-putting
This flavored cold brew coffee will appeal to a range of coffee lovers. Whether you want the tastiness of creamer without the calories or a dose of sweetness to start your day, French Vanilla is a delightful pick.
Most buyers report that the savory taste renders sugar and creamer unnecessary. You might also experience nutty notes to complement the vanilla.
The 100 percent Arabica beans are Columbian Supremo and roasted carefully to minimize bitterness and acidity. A degassing valve ensures your coffee arrives nice and fresh.
Be aware that Coffee Co’s claims of coarseness may be overrated—some homebrewers find the ground coffee too powdery.
- Strong French vanilla taste
- Packed to stay fresh
- Fine grind
The best coffee for cold brew will depend on your unique preferences. It’s essential to prepare your beans correctly for a tasty, smooth cold brew. Have you ever wondered how long coffee beans last? Take into account the profile of different roasts, grinds, and types of beans.
Having said that, if you’re after a quality cold brew with an intense flavor, Stone Street Cold Brew Reserve is a worthy choice. A cheaper yet equally tasty alternative is Bizzy Organic Smooth & Sweet Cold Brew Coffee.
Above all, try to enjoy the process! Don’t hesitate to experiment with different brands, flavors, and preparation methods.