The Best Coffee for Cold Brew

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Over recent years, cold brew coffee has surged in popularity, but what is it and why should you care?

Cold brew coffee is a mild and smooth drink that has less bitterness and also less acidity than hot coffee. It’s also more intense and less diluted than regular coffee poured over ice. Cold brew, as the name makes clear, is produced without any heat whatsoever.

The problem is, not all coffee beans are designed to make great cold brew coffee. If you have espresso beans finely ground, for example, you’ll end up with a shockingly bad batch of cold brew. Get it right and you’ll have a drink your neighbors will be begging for more of.

So, today we’ll kick off by walking you through a dozen of the best coffee beans for cold brew.

Then, once you have an idea of what’s up for grabs, we’ll walk you through the mechanics of cold brew coffee, and we’ll also answer the most frequently asked questions about this well-hyped beverage.

Let’s get right down to business with our cold brew coffee bean reviews.

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I. The 12 Best Coffee for Cold Brew

1. Our #1 Pick: Bizzy Organic Cold Brew Coffee (Coarse Ground Coffee)

Bizzy-Organic-Cold-Brew-Coffee-|-Smooth-&-Sweet-Blend-|-Coarse-Ground-Coffee-|-1-LB

  • Brand: Bizzy
  • Roast Level: Medium_roast
  • Flavor: Smooth & Sweet

Bizzy Organic delivers a great medium roast organic coffee that works extremely well for cold brew.

These organic beans are sourced from central America. They’re medium roasted and you’ll taste distinct notes of hazelnut and caramel.

If you don’t like the sound of this Smooth and Sweet roast, you can also opt for Light and Bright or Dark and Bold giving you a huge range of choice when you want cold brew coffee to your exact liking.

Ethically-sourced and reasonably priced, this coffee ensures that everyone is happy from bean to cup.

Pros: Designed from the ground up for cold brew. Organic coffee sourced from Nicaragua, Peru, and Guatemala. 3 different flavors available.

Cons: A few complaints about coffee tasting scorched.

Bottom Line: For a sustainable and lip-smacking introduction to cold brew coffee, it’s got to be Bizzy Organic.


2. Tiny Footprint Organic Cold Brew Coffee (Whole Bean)

Tiny-Footprint-Coffee-Organic-Cold-Brew-Cold-Press-Elixir-|-Whole-Bean-Coffee

  • Brand: Tiny Footprint Coffee
  • Roast Level: Medium_roast
  • Flavor: Whole bean
Marketed as the world’s first carbon-negative coffee, Tiny Footprint redefines sustainable coffee with this blend ideal for cold brew.

This 100% organic Arabica is shade-grown. The blend combines light and dark roasts to return great balance. Undercutting this, you get some great Ethiopian coffee so your cold brew will be popping.

Despite the fact you’ll need to use a little more coffee when you’re making cold brew, this pack will generate over 1.5 gallons of rich ready to drink cold brew.

Although you can only find 1-pound packs, if you’re looking for even greater value, you could invest in a 3-pack.

Pros: Eco-friendly company so buy with a clear conscience. Rich and bright flavor profile. Each bag yields 1.5 gallons of cold brew so highly economical.

Cons: A few disgruntled customers moan about the taste.

Bottom Line: If you like the idea of the world’s first carbon negative coffee, Tony Footprint gives you a vibrant coffee perfect for cold brew.


3. Cold Brew Lab Organic Coffee (Whole Bean)

Cold-Brew-Lab-Organic-Whole-Bean-Coffee,-1-LB-Bag,-Dark-Roast-Colombian-Supremo

  • Brand: Cold Brew Lab
  • Roast Level: Dark_roast
  • Flavor: Whole bean

While plenty of coffees are capable of delivering first-class cold brew, Cold Brew Lab have concocted this blend with nothing but cold brew in mind. What do you get from this specialist blend, then?

The organic Arabica beans are sourced from Colombia and they are all pesticide-free. The manufacturer throws in both medium and dark roasted beans so you’ll get great balance and a flavor-filled cold brew any time you fancy.

Choose from whole beans or buy them pre-ground and extra-coarse for outstanding cold brew the easy way.

Pros: Beans extracted and optimized with cold brew in mind. Blend of medium and dark roasts for a proprietary roast level ideal for cold brew. Buy whole beans or extra-coarse pre-ground.

Cons: Check the date closely as some users received expired coffee.

Bottom Line: This Colombian Supremo from Cold Brew Lab is coffee expressly designed to bring out the very best in the cold brew method.


4. Stone Street Coffee Colombian Cold Brew Coffee (Whole Bean)

Stone-Street-Coffee-Cold-Brew-Reserve-Colombian-Supremo-Whole-Bean-Coffee

  • Brand: Stone Street Coffee
  • Roast Level: Dark_roast
  • Flavor: Whole bean
We’ve got another Colombian up next from the highly reputable Stone Street Coffee.

The whole beans are tailor-made for grinding directly before brewing. While this is not absolutely essential with cold brew, you’ll always get better results with freshly ground beans due to the speed at which coffee spoils after exposure to the elements.

The enticing dark roast works remarkably well for cold brew. While a few consumers have suggested taste is lacking, taste is almost entirely subjective.

Pros: Dark roast for an intense and full-bodied cold brew coffee. Whole beans great for grinding coarsely before cold brewing. Triple-layered 1-pound bag keeps your beans fresher for longer.

Cons: Some customers complain about a lack of flavor.

Bottom Line: Stone Street is a brand you can trust and this coffee makes mouth-watering cold brew perfect for those hot summer days.


5. Café du Monde Coffee and Chicory (Ground Coffee)

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  • Brand: Cafe Du Monde
  • Roast Level: Dark_roast
  • Flavor: Coffee and Chicory

If you’re looking for some cold brew coffee with a difference, Café du Monde infuses the beans with chicory for a slice of uniqueness.

The commanding design on the tin will set off any kitchen and you can pick up this coffee in a range of sizes to suit.

The flavor of this coffee is quite distinctive, so avoid this chicory-laced drink if you’re looking for a straight-up cold coffee.

This coffee comes from the world famous coffee stand of the same name serving coffee in New Orleans since the 1880s.

Pros: Infused with chicory for a taste sensation. Eye-catching can looks great on the kitchen counter. Bold and rich coffee in your cup.

Cons: Distinct taste not to everyone’s liking.

Bottom Line: If you want a taste of the deep south in a neat and convenient can, this chicory-laced coffee makes awesome cold brew.


6. Real Good Coffee Co Whole Bean Coffee

Real-Good-Coffee-Co-Whole-Bean-Coffee

  • Brand: Real Good Coffee Company
  • Roast Level: Light_roast
  • Flavor: Breakfast Blend Light

Are you partial to a light roast for your cold brew? If so, you’ll appreciate this blend from the Real Goof Coffee co in whole bean form.

The lightly roasted beans come from central and South America where the pure Arabica beans are packaged responsibly.

This is a breakfast blend that works especially well when cold brewed. Why not start your day the right way with a decadent and wonderfully creamy coffee served over ice? All you’ll need to remember is to ready it 24 hours in advance. Cold brew is not a quick and easy beverage to rustle up.

Pros: Light roast for a nice morning cold brew coffee. Smooth flavor with a pronounced creaminess. Impressive brand heritage.

Cons: One user reported stomach issues after drinking this coffee.

Bottom Line: These whole beans grind wonderfully so you can make cold brew at home any time you fancy.


7. Kicking Horse Coffee, Medium Roast, Whole Bean

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  • Brand: Kicking Horse Coffee
  • Roast Level: Medium_roast
  • Flavor: Smart Ass – Medium Roast

Next up we have a fantastic medium roast for any coffee lovers seeking the ultimate balance in their cold brew coffee.

The beans are organic and Fair Trade. The origin of this blend is Africa, central and Latin America for a truly cosmopolitan feel. The beans are grown sustainably.

You’ll taste notes of redcurrant along with milk chocolate and an unmistakable trace of cane sugar for a delectable drink that tastes great over ice on a hot summer afternoon.

As with all coffee you purchase online, you should always check the date closely upon receipt. Some unscrupulous sellers try palming off dated bags of beans so buyer, beware.

Pros: Medium roast for a balanced cold brew coffee. Organic, Fair Trade, and also shade-grown. Roasted in high, mountainous terrain.

Cons: Check the date closely upon receipt as some users report receiving stale beans.

Bottom Line: Choose from medium or dark roasted coffee to make first-class cold brew without leaving home.


8. Stumptown Coffee Roasters Whole Bean Coffee

Stumptown-Coffee-Roasters-Hair-Bender-Whole-Bean-Coffee,-12-oz

  • Brand: Stumptown Coffee Roasters
  • Roast Level: Medium_roast
  • Flavor: Hair Bender

You know you can count on Stumptown when it comes to coffee. With 2 decades in the trenches, this company is still going strong bringing gourmet coffee on a budget into your home.

A proprietary blend of African and central American beans gives you the best from each region in a balanced blend that responds admirably to the cold brew method.

The bags are designed to keep your coffee fresher for longer. The company is also very transparent with dates, both roasted on and best before.

Pros: Alluring notes of dark chocolate and citrus. Benefit from 20 years of brand heritage. Coffee stays fresh for up to 90 days in these bags.

Cons: Some customers have received older bags of beans.

Bottom Line: Stumptown Coffee is always on-point and this Hair Bender blends responds especially well to the cold brew method.


9. Intelligentsia Frequency Blend (Whole Bean)

Intelligentsia-Frequency-Blend-12-oz-Medium-Roast,-Direct-Trade,-Whole-Bean-Coffee

  • Brand: Intelligentsia
  • Roast Level: Medium_roast
  • Flavor: Frequency Blend
Are you looking for some high-grade coffee beans that work effectively for cold brew while still being sustainably produced? If so, Intelligentsia delivers in fine style with their Frequency blend.

The versatility of this coffee means it tastes equally good served black or with a splash of milk to taste. While cold brew might be traditionally served without milk or creamer, traditions are made to be broken.

The beans come from Brazil and Zambia so you’ll get an international flavor with outstanding balance.

Pros: Balanced blend that’s good served black or white. Fully committed to Direct Trade. All coffee cherries are hand-picked.

Cons: Not the cheapest option at your disposal.

Bottom Line: If you want impeccable cold brew and you don’t mind digging deeper for the privilege, road test some of Intelligentsia’s enduringly popular Frequency blend.


10. Farmers Market Jo Coffee (Whole Bean)

FARMERS-MARKET-JO:-12-oz,-Light-Medium-Roast,-Whole-Bean-Arabica-Coffee

  • Brand: Jo Coffee
  • Roast Level: Light Medium Roast
  • Flavor: Chocolate

Are you a fan of lighter roasts? We don’t blame you! This Farmers Market Jo blend is vibrant and makes a superb morning coffee.

Flavor-wise, you’ll find notes of honey, pecan, and chocolate that all come together to deliver a rich, balanced, and eye-opening drink that works particularly well when cold brewed.

Choose from a regular 12oz pack or a money-saving 2-pounder if you prefer to buy your coffee in bulk.

Fair Trade and USDA-certified, you can buy this coffee with a clear conscience and get your days started right.

Pros: Notes of chocolate, pecan, and honey. Resealable packages in assorted sizes to suit. Fair Trade and USDA-certified for your peace of mind.

Cons: Slightly acidic and bitter.

Bottom Line: If you don’t mind a taint of bitterness and acidity, this flavorsome organic cold brew coffee is well worth popping on your shortlist.


11. Cold Buzz Coffee Hazelnut Cold Brew (Whole Bean)

Hazelnut-Cold-Brew-Iced-Coffee-(5-pack)-|-Cold-Buzz-Coffee-Bean-Bag-Packs

  • Brand: Cold Buzz Coffee
  • Flavor: Hazelnut

As we edge to the end of our quest for the best coffee for cold brew, here’s something for all you nut lovers.

This hazelnut flavored coffee is subtle yet deceptively moreish. Your cold brew will taste equally good with or without milk.

Now, the coffee bags are not to everyone’s liking. You’ll get total convenience, but many coffee purists won’t like the idea of bags. Make your own mind up, there are no fixed rules with coffee. The only thing of importance is getting your cup of joe the way you want it. If that happens to be in bag form, don’t let anyone put you off!

Pros: Convenient bag form. Serve coffee black or with a splash of milk after 24 hours refrigeration. Multiple flavors if you don’t like the idea of hazelnut.

Cons: Coffee bags not to everyone’s taste.

Bottom Line: For single-serve cold brew convenience, these bags from Cold Buzz take some beating.


12. Metropolis Coffee Company Cold Brew Blend (Whole Bean)

Metropolis-Coffee-Company-Cold-Brew-Blend,-Dark-Roast-(Whole-Bean,-12oz-Bag)

  • Brand: Metropolis
  • Roast Level: Dark_roast
  • Flavor: Whole Bean

The crisp packaging reveals some first class beans from Metropolis Coffee Company that will make awesome cold brew. How do these beans taste, then?

Well, the blend is super-smooth and you’ll also taste distinct notes of chocolate. This blend is fashioned with nothing but cold brew in mind and it shows. The end result in your cup will have you wondering why you didn’t start drinking this stuff years ago.

The only real drawback with this stuff is the fact you’re limited to a single size, but that’s hardly a deal-breaker.

Despite the elevated quality of this coffee, it’s priced well within everyone’s budget. What are you waiting for?

Pros: Smooth roast with undertones of chocolate. Expressly made for cold brew coffee. Great price/performance ratio.

Cons: Only one size available.

Bottom Line: For a no-nonsense dark roast that’s deliberately designed for cold brew coffee, look no further than Metropolis Coffee Company.

OK, with our reviews in place, you might still have some unanswered questions about cold brew coffee. We’ll do our best to answer those before we round out for the day.


II. How Does Temperature Impact The Brewing Process?

How-Does-Temperature-Impact-The-Brewing-Process

The journey from coffee bean to your cup is complex, potentially more so than wine.

The reason for this complexity is the number of variables with wine. From the origin to the elevation, from the picking and processing through to the roasting, a long chain of factors all impact the taste of the drink in your cup.

When you cold brew coffee, the process is a little more forgiving of many of these variables, but what does this mean in plain English?

Well, cold brew is typically made at far lower temperatures than drip coffee or coffee made in a French press.

With hot brewed coffee, the water should be heated to between 195F and 205F for that perfect golden cup. Cold brew, by contrast, is normally made at or below room temperature, that is from 35F to 70F.

Since the temperature is much lower, the brew time is lengthened proportionally. This is essential to achieve proper extraction. Extended brew time also impact the flavor of the coffee in your cup.

Many of the solubles and acids responsible for the fruity and floral lighter notes in coffee are only extracted at a certain temperature. For this reason, cold brew is often promoted as ideal for anyone with a sensitive stomach normally inflamed by brewed coffee. Equally, this makes cold brew a touch subtler in terms of flavor.

Introducing a hot bloom phase to your cold brew coffee can help you to coax out some of the more delicate flavors. This preliminary stage involves pouring a little hot water over you grounds to prime them for better extraction. Once this hot bloom is done, you use room temperature water for your cold brew. You won’t get the same degree of acidity and you won’t get the same bright flavors you’ll get from hot brewed coffee, though, even if you opt for a hot bloom stage.


III. How Does The Brewing Method Affect Flavor?

When you’re hunting for the best coffee for cold brew, you should think first about the precise nature of the brewing method you’ll be using, immersion or slow drip.

  • Immersion brewing: With this approach to cold brew, you steep your ground coffee beans in cold water for as long as 24 hours. Once removed from the refrigerator, you filter your coffee. This method of making cold brew results in a much fuller-bodied and intense drink
  • Slow drip brewing: This method involves dripping iced water slowly onto your coffee grounds with the resulting brew collected in a carafe beneath. The quicker method of the two, you’ll still need up to 5 hours to make a single cup of cold brew. The coffee you get using this method is more diluted than the highly concentrated result of immersion brewing. You get a medium-bodied brew that might be just what you’re looking for in your cold brew

IV. What Type of Roast Works Best for Cold Brew Coffee?

If you start searching online for advice about what roast works best for cold brew coffee, you’ll find wildly differing opinions.

Some coffee fiends swear by light roasts from Africa while other extoll the virtues of dark Colombian roasts.

While there is no right or wrong here, the majority of coffee lovers err toward darker roasts for cold brew. The brewing method lends well to dark and rich flavors. Think earthy, chocolatey notes. Even if you were able to pull some of the more subtle notes out of your cold brewed coffee, these heavier flavors would dominate anyway.

If you’re not sure, start with a darker roast and work your way backwards if you don’t find it to your liking.


V. How To Make Your Cold Brew Coffee Even Tastier

How-To-Make-Your-Cold-Brew-Coffee-Even-Tastier

What can you do if you drink cold brew coffee on a regular basis and you’re looking to make it extra-special?

Try these simple ideas to jazz up an already delicious beverage further:

  • Add some alcohol to give your cold brew a real kick. While it might seem tempting to add a coffee-flavored liqueur, this is not your best option. Rather than complementing the coffee, the coffee-hued drink will dominate and ruin the characteristic taste of your cold brew
  • Add a splash of soda water to the top of your cold brew
  • Rub a slice of lime all around the rim of your glass before serving your cold brew coffee. Dash of tequila optional

Now, with our reviews put to bed and all the information you need in place so you can choose the best beans for cold brew, we’re nearly done for the day. Before we finish up, though, a curated list of cold brew coffee FAQs.


VI. FAQs

1) Does the grind size matter for cold brew coffee?

When you’re making cold brew, you can use either whole beans and grind them yourself, or you could opt or pre-ground beans. Either way, the grind size is critical just as it is with any brewing method. If the grind size is too fine, the resultant brew will be harsh and bitter. This will be over-extracted coffee. With the slow-drip method of cold brewing coffee, fine grinds are too dense and impede flow. You need a coarse grind so the flow of water is not restricted.

2) Do I need pre-ground coffee for cold brew or should I grind my own whole beans?

As we mentioned above, you can use either. You’ll find plenty of people telling you it’s vital to grind your own beans right before brewing. While that’s certainly true with hot brewed coffee, it’s not quite as important when you’re cold brewing. If you choose to grind your own beans, make sure you have a decent grinder, ideally a burr grinder. Grind only as many beans as you need for your brew and use a coarse grind for cold brew. If you’re opting for pre-ground beans, avoid anything labeled espresso blend or anything that’s finely ground. As outlined above, that won’t end well with cold brew. A coarsely ground coffee of any description is what you should start from. You could also consider coffee that’s marketed purely for cold brewing. This is a solid starting point if you have no idea what you’re looking for. Don’t be afraid to experiment if you’re buying pre-ground coffee. You might need to accept a few poor batches when you’re getting started. You’ll need to dial in the ratio and the timing. A handful of bum batches should be considered collateral damage and part of the learning curve. Make sure you check the dates on any coffee you buy. Look for the roasting date along with any other descriptors of freshness on the pre-ground packaging. So, you don’t need to grind your own beans for cold brew, but you do need to pay attention to grind size and to freshness.

3) Should I choose single origin coffee or a blend for the best cold brew?

If you’re a complete beginner to cold brewing, single origin beans are your safest bet. They will generally have a much clearer flavor profile than blended beans for obvious reasons. This allows you to enjoy the whole spectrum of each flavor more fully. On the downside, single origin beans are usually a little more expensive. If you’re not shopping motivated primarily by budget, though, the little extra investment will return a great deal in terms of quality.

4) What flavors can I expect from cold brew coffee?

The flavors you find in coffee are all laid out on the SCA’s Coffee Taster’s Wheel. This is what producers use when they are labeling the flavors in their specific blends. The right-hand side of this wheel contains the more acidic and medicinal flavors found in coffee. Now, when you’re cold brewing, many of the flavors found in this quadrant of the wheel are lost. Some of the fruity and floral notes, by contrast, are accentuated when cold brewing. If you opt for a more extreme roast with dominant notes of spice, cocoa, or excessive sweetness, you might find the end result is overpowering when you’re cold brewing. A safe choice is to stick to the middle of this Taster’s Wheel. If you can’t resist the idea of a more powerful coffee, try steeping for longer or using a lighter roast. As with all aspects of making great coffee, you need to be prepared to experiment. With a little patience and a little practice, you can soon dial in your cold brewing so you get the rich, intense, and full-bodied cold coffee you crave without any unwanted bitterness or acidity.

5) How do I make cold brew coffee?

If you use the immersion method of brewing, you’ll steep your ground coffee beans in cold water for as long as 24 hours. You keep the mixture in the refrigerator then filter before serving. With the slow drip process, you very slowly drip iced water over your coffee grounds then collect the brew in a carafe. Despite being the quicker of the two methods, you’ll still need at least 5 hours to make slow drip cold brew coffee.

6) Should I serve cold brew coffee black or should I use milk or creamer?

Given the naturally creamy mouth of cold brew coffee, you’ll find plenty of people claiming that you don’t need milk with cold brew and that it should only be consumed black. As with all opinions concerning coffee, this is nothing more than an opinion. If you prefer your cold coffee lightened with a splash of milk or creamer, don’t let any purists put you off. If you are adding dairy to your cold brew, a ratio of three parts cold brew to one part milk works surprisingly well.

7) How can I avoid ice melting and diluting my cold brew coffee?

If you add ice to your cold brew, that ice will dilute your drink as it melts. One way to get around this is to use whiskey stones. These neat little faux-ice cubes can be popped in the freezer until ice cold then added to your cold brew coffee without any concerns about watering down your drink. Another workaround is to use balled ice. While this still melts, it does so more slowly than ice cubes.

8) How does cold brew extraction really work?

When you’re cold brewing coffee, you’re extracting it at a cooler temperature and for a much longer time than when you’re using regular hot water extractions. As a result of the reduced temperature and lengthier contact time, you’ll bring out a unique quality and sensory profile second to none.

9) Is all cold brew coffee served as a cold beverage?

No. Cold brew is a brewing method rather than a serving method. While typically served cold, you can also enjoy this coffee warm. When cold brew coffee was first used in the US, the concentrated cold brew coffee was diluted using boiling water. It was usually served warm.

10) Why does cold brew coffee taste sweeter?

Cold brew coffee tastes sweeter than hot brewed coffee as it has almost 70% less acidity. Although cold brew can be as smooth and full-bodied as hot coffee, there’s no bitter aftertaste, and a different flavor profile will emerge, too. When it’s produced cold, the acid and the oils that come to the fore in hot coffee are softened. With a more robust flavor profile, the milk chocolate vanilla, and fruity notes of the coffee beans are enhanced.

11) Does cold brew coffee contain more caffeine than regular brewed coffee?

The long steeping process involved with cold brewing means the coffee-to-water ratio is 1:60 rather than the 1:20 ratio used for drip coffee. Hot brewed coffee is also regularly further diluted with milk, creamer, or water. This reduces the concentration of caffeine. A 16oz cup of cold brew contains 200 mg of caffeine, while a cup of hot brew contains 160 to 180 mg, depending on the beans you use, the steeping time, and how the coffee is diluted.

12) Can I drink cold brew coffee if I have a sensitive stomach?

Absolutely. Cold brew coffee is often recommended for those with sensitive stomachs intolerant to hot brewed coffee. It’s the heat used in the process of making coffee the traditional way that brings out the more bitter flavor profiles. With no heat involved in cold brewing, the flavor becomes smoother while the coffee is also less acidic. If you have acid reflux or an otherwise sensitive stomach but you’re not prepared to ditch your daily java, consider switching to cold brew.


VII. Conclusion

If you started today with no idea at all about what beans work best for cold brew coffee, that should no longer be the case.

Before you leave, take a second to bookmark LaMano. We’re never interested in giving you the hard sell and we want to protect you from buying overpriced or shoddy coffee equipment. More importantly, though, we want to share as many brewing tips with you as possible, so making the perfect cup of java needn’t be something reserved for baristas.

We have a busy content calendar for the coming holiday season, so be sure to pop back soon.

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