Looking to try out the best cold brew coffee? To get great results, you need to use the right kind of coffee for cold brewing. Though there is no such thing as an ideal option for cold brewing, some coffee varieties work better than others.
With that in mind, if you are in the hunt for the best coffee for cold brew, we’ll introduce you to 5 options that should provide you with a good starting point. Never tried coffee cold before? Don't worry, we'll walk you through the best options in our guide.
To help you get the best experience out of cold brewing, we’ll talk about how to pick the right coffee for this method of brewing and what you should expect from it.
5 Best Coffees For Cold Brew
To make things easier for you, the coffee bean type in this pack by Stone Street Coffee come pre-ground ready to use. More specifically, they are ground coarsely, and they also are of dark roasted. These are the most ideal coffee bean features available.
If you want to grind cold brew coffee beans yourself, then you may also choose the whole bean dark roast blend of this coffee instead.
Flavor-wise, the Colombian coffee sold by Stone Street Coffee is claimed to have low acidity, slight sweetness, and a combination of bold & smooth coffee flavor profile. Though hot coffee might be more traditional than coffee cold, you should be able to feel these features in it as well.
If you really want to get organic coffee, then this pack by Bizzy may be a good option. Bizzy claims that this coffee is ethically sourced from Peru and Nicaragua and is 100% USDA organic.
This coffee again comes coarsely ground, but unlike the Stone Street option, the roast of the Bizzy pack we based our review on is medium. This isn’t what is generally used for cold brews, but we think that lighter roasts are worth a shot if you don’t yet have a preference for dark roasted.
If you’d rather make your coffee yourself, then consider getting this whole bean coffee by Dr. Mojo. The pack we based our review on had a medium roast, which may be a good option depending on the freshness and blend.
Remarkably, Dr. Mojo has a decaffeinated variant of this coffee, as well a few other blends with varying smoothness and strength.
Dr. Mojo promises to refund the purchase if you don’t like the medium roast blend, meaning that you could safely take a shot with this one.
Cold Brew Lab claims to produce the perfect coffee for cold brewing. They use a blend of medium & dark roast coffee to create a combo that is supposedly ideal for cold brew. Cold Brew Lab offers this coffee in extra-coarse and whole bean variants, both of which can work just right.
What may also matter to you is that this coffee is advertised as 100% USDA organic.
Whether the claims of Cold Brew Lab on the perfectness of this are true or not, you should probably give this coffee a shot – it might be the best coffee for cold brew available out there.
Even though Koffee Kult doesn’t advertise this coffee as cold brew, it is suitable for cold brewing – it’s whole bean dark roast coffee, which, as already noted, is the preferred combo for cold brewing.
As claimed by Koffee Kult, this coffee is a 100% Arabica beans with a bold yet smooth flavor profile, little bitterness, and low acidity. Their are notes of many flavors in each sip and that changes with each bag you get. Make sure you are purchasing the beans with freshness!
It seems that this particular coffee product has been insanely popular – over 3k reviews and 4.5 stars on Amazon are a solid testimony to this. It’s very likely that this coffee will be to your taste as well just as it has been for many others. Even if you aren’t satisfied, Koffee Kult promises to refund your order.
What Is The Best Coffee For Cold Brew on the market in 2020?
If you’ve got some experience with traditional hot coffee, then you know how different cold brew can taste depending on small and often uncontrollable details like:
- The variety of the bean.
- Where the coffee is grown.
- The altitude at which the coffee has been grown.
- How the coffee has been picked, processed, and roasted.
- How you prepare your coffee.
Those who are very demanding on the taste of their coffee will probably agree that it’s very challenging to find the right kind of coffee. What especially makes picking the right coffee difficult is that not every seller will tell you where and how the coffee has been grown.
With cold brew, the variables listed above do not matter as much. The reason for this is simple – cold brewing will not release as much of the acids and soluble substances contained in the coffee. Due to this, the flavor characteristics of the coffee are somewhat lost.
This makes all the little details that impact coffee flavors much less important with cold brewing. Of course, the kind of coffee used will have its effect on the taste of the drink, but cold brew is much more forgiving.
With this in mind, you could make a fine cup of coffee from many kinds of coffee beans for cold brew without worrying too much about their aromatic properties unlike more full bodied versions.
With that said, some kinds of coffee will work for cold brew better, which we’ll talk about in a moment. The freshness is an important factor though! Make sure you are sorting by freshness when purchasing a new blend to try.
You could make cold brew from pretty much any kind of coffee and get more or less similar results (though you’d still feel a difference between varying roast blend and coffee types). The difference between subpar and excellent coffee is much, much less evident with cold coffee than with hot brew coffee. That said, cold coffee and cold brew are not the same at all! Read below to learn more.
Hot Brew VS Cold Brew Coffee
It’s also worth talking about the differences between cold brew and hot brew coffee.
To get started, let’s have a look at the benefits of cold brew:
- Cold brew is more forgiving when it comes to the quality and flavor profile of the used coffee, which we’ve talked about above.
- Cold brew is easy to make. The method of making cold brew is much simpler than it is with hot brew coffee. We’ll have a better look at the making of it a little later.
- Cold brew has low acidity. As mentioned above, coffee doesn’t release as much acid in cold water. This is great because acid can be harsh on your stomach. If you know that hot brew coffee causes issues in your gastrointestinal tract, then cold brew can be a great substitute.
- Cold brew is less bitter. This is again due to the fact that cold water releases a lower amount of soluble substances from the beans. Some do enjoy the bitterness of coffee, but if you aren’t one of such coffee drinkers, then you may become a fan of it.
- Preparing cold brew requires very little cleaning. Cleaning your coffee maker after each use can be a challenge. Even if you are dealing with the easier-to-clean pod coffees, you’ll be producing a lot of plastic waste.
Thanks to the simplicity of cold brew, cleanup is much quicker and easier, though some preparation methods may be less convenient in this area.
On the other hand, you won’t get:
- A quick cup of coffee. Cold brewing takes a long time. Usually, coffee is cold brewed overnight. In contrast, you can make a hot cup of coffee in just a few minutes.
- Coffee economy. Cold brew typically requires twice as many grounds as you would need for hot brewed coffee. This could make drinking it an expensive pleasure.
- The most magnificent cup of coffee you’ve ever had. It will not be able to uncover the full potential of your coffee beans. Even though cold brew can be pretty spectacular, you most likely won’t get flavors comparable to the splendor delivered by hot brewed coffee made from the finest beans.
- The freedom to experiment. Now, there are some things that you can tweak when making it, but experimenting with hot brew coffee can be much more rewarding. Subtle flavors change in the cold brewing process often bring noticeable improvements in the quality and flavor of hot coffee, and this adds a certain share of excitement to the brewing process itself.
To be clear, we’re not trying to convince you that one brew of coffee is superior to the other. We’re merely introducing you to what you should expect from this alternative way of brewing.
The advantages do not mean that it should replace hot coffee in your life. Though in some cases (e.g. stomach issues), that could be a reasonable thing to do.
Try out both coffee brews and see which one you like more and which one is easier and more reasonable for you to make. If you like both, then even better – you’ll have two entirely different coffee worlds to explore!
Cold Brew VS Iced Coffee
If you’re wondering what the difference between cold brew and iced coffee is, you’re not alone. But the difference is actually pretty simple – iced coffee is regular coffee with ice, while cold brew coffee is coffee that is made in cold water.
It all comes down to personal preference, but it is, so-to-say, a “purer” coffee drink. By adding ice to heated coffee, you are diluting it this way, thereby weakening its flavor properties.
Aside from that, making iced coffee is just as challenging as making hot brew coffee.
With that said, iced coffee will somewhat retain the aroma and taste of hot brewed coffee, while cold brew coffee won’t have those in the first place.
We again can’t claim that one style of coffee is better than the other. Instead of trying to pick a leader, try both, and see which one you like more.
Homemade Cold Brew VS Canned Cold Brew Coffee
You can also buy it in a can, but would such coffee be better than doing it with your own hands?
We’d say that if you don’t want to waste time on making your own cold brew coffee, go for canned coffee. However, do keep in mind that you lose control over the quality and ingredients of your coffee.
When you make cold brew homemade, you can pick the beans yourself, and you can control the cold brewing process. With canned coffee, you can’t really monitor how it has been made. This doesn’t mean that manufacturers of canned products put bad stuff in the beverage, but some people may dislike the lack of control and information associated with them.
Picking The Best Coffees Available For Cold Brew
Now, let’s talk about how to choose the best beans.
To be fair, you could use any coffee beans for cold brew. However, some beans will work better than others. Below, we’ll talk about these better beans for cold brew. One thing to keep in mind is the source of the beans. Are they single origin? Single origin is generally the best option, because it is typically higher quality. Single origin means that the beans come from one place. When there are multiple origins, they might be using "filler" beans to make a cheaper option. That's why we recommend sticking with our recommended beans for cold brew. We might be a little biased, but we think they are the best!
Cold brew coffee is generally made from darker roasts of coffee beans. You may choose lighter beans as well, but a dark roast blend will work great for cold grew coffee because:
- They are affordable.
- It makes little sense to go for lighter beans. Generally, the darker the roast is, the less retained the original flavors of the bean are.
Though light beans have a “cleaner” coffee flavor, it doesn’t really make sense to buy them for cold brewing since you will not be able to fully uncover their full potential.
- Lighter beans cost more than darker ones.
- Lighter beans have more acidity than darker ones, which may be an issue for some drinkers. Though cold water extracts lower amounts of acids from the coffee, the difference may still be noticeable.
- Darker beans contain less caffeine than lighter roasts, which may be a big advantage.
With that said, keep in mind that darker roasted beans will have a more charred taste, which is a consequence of the roasting process. In contrast, light roasts have a sweeter taste which many people like more.
Besides, although the full bodied flavor gamut of lighter roasts will not be uncovered in cold brewing, the difference between dark and light roasts may be evident in cold brew coffee.
If budget isn’t an issue for you, then try both lighter and darker roast blend and see which one works for you. But for most, the optimal option will probably be dark roast beans due to their relative inexpensiveness.
Believe it or not, but the size of the coffee bean is vastly more important than its roast. If the size is wrong, even the best coffee beans in the world will not allow you to make a good cup of cold brew coffee.
The optimal grind for cold brewing is coarse. For some reference, the optimal grind will feel like beach sand when you rub it between your fingers, though you may also go larger with the coarse grind.
There are few reasons for why coarse grind is the best for cold brewing:
- Fine grinds can be over-extracted, resulting in a much bitterer flavor than you may desire.
- Fine grinds will form a bed at the bottom of the brewing container, which can impede water flow.
- At the end of the brewing process, straining coarser beans will be much easier than finer beans.
There are no second options here – if you want to make good cold brew coffee, then the size must be coarse. Either buy coffee that is pre-ground specifically for cold brew coffee, or grind your beans yourself.
Home-ground vs pre-ground coffee
Another thing to talk about is whether your coffee blend should be pre-ground or home-ground.
To be fair, the optimal option would be to grind your coffee yourself. That’s because once coffee is ground, it very quickly loses its flavor. And since pre-ground coffee might be stored in warehouses for quite some time, it will likely impart not as spectacular flavor to your cold brew when the beans lose their freshness.
Proper storage can maintain much of the characteristics of the coffee, but you obviously can’t control how pre-ground coffee is being stored before being shipped to you.
So ideally, you would grind your beans and immediately use them.
On the other hand, to grind coffee yourself, you need to have a grinder, preferably a good one. If you didn’t know, a good grinder can cost a couple of hundred dollars, though for frequent coffee drinkers, this may be worth it.
But if you are on a very tight budget, then sticking to pre-ground regular coffee could be reasonable.
Single origin vs coffee blends
Most connoisseurs of cold brew coffee will tell you that single origin coffee is optimal for brewing. This is because you won’t really feel the flavor mixes of coffee blends.
In hot brewing, coffee blends are very often used to control the sweetness, bitterness, and acidity of the coffee. Since cold water doesn’t fully extract coffee from the grounds, it doesn’t really make sense to use anything other than single origin beans for cold brew.
How To Make Cold Brew Coffee
Believe it or not, but there are several methods of making cold brew coffee. Even though the good-old immersion method where you leave the grounds in cold water overnight will work for most of us, it’s worth covering other methods as well. Likewise, it’s worth that you try out other cold brewing methods and see which one works best for you.
First of all, of course, we have the immersion method. This is probably the easiest and most intuitive way of making cold brew coffee.
Here’s what you need to do to cold brew coffee with the immersion method:
- Place the ground beans in a glass container. You may use other container types, but a glass container will be the easier way to wash.
- Add water to the container and cover the lid.
- Leave the container in a refrigerator or on the counter. Keep in mind that in a fridge, it will take longer for the coffee to give out its substances.
- Let the container sit for about 12 hours if not in the cold. For fridge brewing, wait for 18 hours.
- Strain the coffee through a coffee filter to separate it from the used grounds. If using a paper filter, know that it may also retain some amount of coffee oils, which will make the drink thinner.
- Dilute the drink with water to weaken it – after 12-18 hours of steeping, the concentrate will be very intensely flavored. You may add milk as well if that’s your preference, but milk may change the flavor quite a bit.
As you can see, this method requires no specialized equipment and is easy to implement.
How much coffee and water to use will depend on your preferences, but generally, one cup of coffee to four cups of water is the rule of thumb followed by many people.
Use filtered water for cold brewing – regular tap water may add undesired flavors to the drink.
Keep in mind that the longer you wait, the stronger the coffee will be. For your first portion, follow the numbers provided above, but feel free to experiment.
Also, given that cold brew coffee takes a lot of brewing time to make, you may prepare a bigger batch for a few days. Cold brew coffee can be kept in a fridge for up to two weeks, though you will probably notice it’s flavor deteriorating after a week.
Filter bag method
In this method, the grounds are placed in a cloth filter bag or even a sock that is submerged in water. The advantage of this method is that cloth filters easily let through the coffee oils. On the other hand, it’s very tricky to thoroughly clean these filters.
Preparation-wise, this method is very similar to the immersion method. The only difference is that you don’t filter the fluid since the grounds are kept isolated in a filter bag from the get-go.
The Toddy immersion method
This method is considered one of the original methods. The coffee shop often uses precisely this brewing method.
The Toddy immersion method is very similar to the immersion method, but it has one crucial difference – the container used in this method has a built-in filter at the bottom.
In terms of flavor, the results of this method will depend on the kind of filters used. With cloth filters, you should get results similar to what you’d have with the filter bag method.
The French press immersion method
You can also brew it in a French press maker. This is because French presses have a built-in filter system. In fact, since the filters in French presses usually do not come in contact with the coffee, little to no weird flavors are imparted to the coffee this way. Aside from that, much of the coffee oils are retained by the beverage.
Here’s how you would brew it with a French press:
- Put the ground coffee in the pot.
- Add filtered water in a 4:1 ratio to the coffee.
- Raise the filter to its uppermost position.
- Close off the spout to prevent oxygen from entering the vessel.
- Let the pot sit for 12 hours at room temperature or 18-24 hours in a refrigerator.
- Press the plunger down until you meet resistance.
The not so good thing about cold brewing in a French press is that cleanup can be a little difficult.
Contrary to what the name of this method suggests, the slow-drip method actually allows you to dramatically shorten the time of brewing. It takes just 3-4 hours to make it with this method.
In this method, ice-cold water is dripped from above through the coffee grounds into a container below. The grounds are usually placed in a cloth filter bag to make sure that the coffee is wetted evenly.
In terms of flavor, it is made with the slow-drip method is pretty close to coffee made with immersion methods.
The downside of the slow-drip method is that you need specialized equipment for it, though you could improvise a drip tower of your own if you feel like it.
Final Words & Comments
If you are considering trying out the best cold brew at home, no matter which way you brew it and how you consume it (with sugar, milk, or just plain black) then definitely do so. Cold brew comes with its own list of pros and cons, but what’s much more important is that you get the chance to experience a whole new world of coffee.
Hopefully, our guide with the best bean list has given you a good idea of what to expect. To get started with cold brew, the reviewed beans should be good enough, but do remember that many types of beans will work with cold brewing as long as they are coarse enough.
Don’t expect to find the perfect beans for cold brew on the first try. Instead, try out a few varieties and figure out which you like more. Be open to experiments as well – there is much to explore with cold brewing!
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