The 7 Best Coffees For Cold Brew - HOMEGROUNDS
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The 7 Best Coffees For Cold Brew

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On a hot summer’s day, it’s hard to beat the refreshing jolt of a cold brew coffee.

Known for being smooth and mild with low acidity and minimal bitterness, cold brewing can be the perfect way to bring out a bean’s most subtle flavors.

Of course, not all beans are created equal and some benefit from this treatment more than others. 

Read on to learn all about how cold brewing affects the taste and aroma of your beverage and which beans make the best coffee for cold brew.

OUR #1 PICK

The Best Value For Money

Stone Street Colombian Supremo

The Stone Street Colombian Supremo is our choice for the best coffee for cold brew since it's great for starters. Its high-quality dark-roasted single-origin arabica Colombian Supremo beans gives a smooth, sweet, well-balanced, and bold coffee flavor you'll definitely love for cold brew.

What Is Cold Brew?

To understand which beans make the best cold brew, it is important to first understand cold brew itself.

Namely, the distinction between cold brew and iced coffee.

Cold brew coffee is made without any heat at all.

Most often, ground beans are simply steeped in cold filtered water for a long period of time in order to extract the flavor of the beans (learn how to make a DIY cold brew here).

In contrast, iced coffee is made from regular brewed coffee that has been cooled and poured over ice.

The Effects Of Temperature

Can you freeze coffee container

Hot coffee is extracted between 91 and 96 degrees Celsius (195 - 205 F) whereas cold brew is extracted between 2 and 21 degrees Celsius (35 - 70 F).

The absence of heat from the brewing process gives cold brew its unique and prized characteristics, but also means it requires twice as many grounds and many additional hours of brewing time compared with hot methods.

Many of the acids and solubles responsible for light and floral notes in coffee are only extracted above certain temperatures. 

For this reason, cold brew is low in acid and easy on the stomach, but also tends to have more muted flavors.

Choosing the right beans is the best way to ensure a cup that is both smooth and flavorful. 

When choosing the best beans for cold brew, there are a few factors you need to consider.

Immersion vs. Cold Drip Cold Brewing 

There are two primary ways to make cold brew coffee - immersion and slow drip. The immersion method is usually favored by home brewers for its simplicity.

Ground beans are steeped in cold water for 12 - 24 hours before being filtered out.

In the slow drip process, ice water is slowly dripped onto ground beans and collected in a carafe below.

The main advantage of this method is its relative speed, though it still takes 3 to 5 hours to yield a cup of cold brew. 

However, the specialized equipment required renders it out of reach for most home brewers.

From a flavor standpoint, the immersion method results in a full-bodied concentrated brew whereas the drip method yields a more dilute medium-bodied beverage.

Brewing method can be an important consideration when choosing beans for cold brew.

The Grind Matters

Whether buying pre-ground beans for cold brew or grinding them yourself, be aware that grind matters. 

A coarse grind is always preferable for a cold brew.

Fine grounds often produce more harsh or bitter flavors as a result of being over-extracted.

If using the slow drip method, the grind size is particularly important. A coarse grind is quicker to begin dripping, while a finer grind can sometimes become too dense and restrict the flow of water.

Dark or Light Roast?

Choosing between a dark or a light roast is largely a matter of personal preference. Your best bet is to experiment. 

Don’t assume that your roast preference for hot coffee will hold true for cold brew.

Experts are divided on the question. Some suggest light to medium roasts, which are naturally more acidic, because the cold brewing process eliminates much of the acidity of the beans.

Others recommend dark roasts because cold brew has a tendency to taste of darker, richer flavors, like chocolate, nuts and earthiness.

The bright acidity that characterizes light roasts may be difficult to extract through cold brewing and result in overall muted flavors.

Whichever you choose, bear in mind that lighter roasts will require a longer extraction time because the cellular structure of the beans has been less damaged by the roasting process.

Single-Origin or Blend?

While the question as to light or dark roasts seems to divide experts, most agree that single-origin beans are the best option for cold brew.

The cold brewing process allows the taster to experience the more subtle notes of a bean and truly appreciate the single-origin product.

While blends make sense for something like espresso, where a barista needs to balance acidity, sweetness, and bitterness, the absence of bitterness and acidity in a cold brew renders this process unnecessary.

To Milk or Not to Milk?

This is again a matter of personal taste. 

Many experts recommend drinking cold brew coffee black because its flavors are already so subtle that it would be a disservice to further dilute them with dairy.

If you always add a little milk or cream to your coffee, consider sampling the cold brew without first.

You may be pleasantly surprised. 

If you find it lacking, try mixing three parts cold brew with one part milk. Or, get creative with one of our delicious cold brew recipes.


Summary of the Best Coffees for Cold Brew 

So now that you know everything to expect from cold brew, here are 7 beans that you can use to make your own at home.

COLD BREW BEANS

Best Feature

Roast

Price

Rating

Tiny

Fo​​​​otprint

 Commitment to environmental responsibility

Mix of dark and light

$$

Cafe du Monde

Extremely low bitterness due to chicory additive

Dark

$

Stone Street Coffee

High quality single-origin Colombian beans

Dark

$$

Cold Buzz Coffee

Super easy to make thanks to pre-grinding and pre-bagging

Medium 

$$$

Metropolis Coffee

Beans are roasted to order for maximum freshness

Very dark

$$

Peet’s Baridi Blend

Delicious when brewed hot or cold

Medium

$$$

Costa Rica El Encino

Single-origin green beans allow the most control

Not roasted

$

#1 - The Tiny Footprint Coffee Organic Cold Press Elixir

Tiny Footprint Coffee is a small roastery based in the U.S. that is focused as much on producing great beans as making healthy decisions for the planet.

They have partnered with the non-profit Mindo Cloudforest Foundation and tout themselves as the world’s first ‘carbon negative’ coffee.

For every pound of coffee they sell, they offset the carbon used in its production and distribution by planting trees in the Ecuadorian cloud forest.

Their Cold Press Elixir is produced specifically with cold brewing in mind.

It is a mix of light and dark roasts highlighted with some high-end Ethiopian beans.

The result is a silky richness and sweet taste with subtle bright fruit and floral tones infused in a cocoa-like body.

PROS

  • The most environmentally-friendly roastery on the list
  • All their beans are high-altitude, shade-grown, and 100% arabica.
  • Beans are available ground or whole.

CONS

  • May be less enjoyable when brewed using hot methods.
  • This is a blend rather than a single-origin product.
  • Can be bland tasting to some palates.

#2 - The Cafe du Monde Coffee with Chicory

Cafe du Monde is a french coffee shop that has been operating in New Orleans since 1862.

Popular among tourists, many say that its famed chicory coffee makes for an excellent cold brew.

The chicory root is softened, ground and added to coffee to limit the bitterness of a dark roast.

It adds a sweet tobacco-smoke aroma enhances much of what is already appealing about cold brew -- low bitterness, smooth and light body, and mellow flavors.

PROS

  • Inexpensive and readily available.
  • The resultant coffee is extremely low in bitterness and very smooth.
  • These beans are equivalently good whether brewed hot or cold.
  • If you like dairy in your coffee, these take well to the addition of milk or cream.

CONS

  • The distinctive chicory taste will not be enjoyed by everyone.
  • These beans have less caffeine due to dilution with chicory.
  • Only available pre-ground which means freshness may be compromised or grind size may be imperfect.

#3 - The Stone Street Coffee Cold Brew Reserve Colombian Supremo Coffee

Stone Street Coffee is another American small-batch roastery offering beans designated specifically for cold brew.

They pride themselves on their ethical and intimate sourcing relationships with the best coffee farms and growing regions around the world.

The premium single-origin arabica Colombian Supremo beans are dark roasted to produce a slightly sweet, smooth, well balanced, and bold coffee flavor.

Colombian Supremo beans are characterized by notes of fruit, chocolate, and caramel and are widely considered to be among the best in the world.

PROS

  • Single-origin beans from one of the world’s premier growing regions.
  • Selected specifically for their bold flavour to be highlighted by cold brewing.
  • Available either pre-ground or in whole bean form to ensure freshness.

CONS

  • These beans are less effective for slow drip brewing.
  • The dark roast means they are lower in caffeine.
  • Relatively expensive compared to other options.

#4 - The Cold Buzz Coffee Hazelnut

Cold Buzz Coffee makes cold brewing as easy as possible by selling pre-ground beans already in bags, like tea bags. All you need to do is add water and soak overnight.

They source their 100% arabica beans from Central and South America and Europe. They are aware that cold brew is expensive because it requires many more grounds than hot coffee, so they work with roasters and wholesalers to try and keep costs down.

Cold Buzz Coffee offers a number of flavors, but the hazelnut is highly recommended. The sweet, buttery flavor is enhanced with a dark roast that makes it perfect for cold brewing.

PROS

  • Very convenient thanks to the pre-bagged ground.
  • The clean-up process is also easy with no filtering required.

CONS

  • Limited flexibility when it comes to other brewing methods.
  • This is not a roastery and the beans only come pre-ground, so freshness is probably compromised.
  • You have no control over the amount of grinds you use; the resultant cold brew might be too strong or too weak.
  • Relatively expensive because of the convenient packaging.

#5 - The Metropolis Coffee Cold Brew Blend

Metropolis is a Chicago-based company with a commitment to sourcing the finest coffees through developing sound relationships with farmers.

Most notably, from Monday to Thursday, they roast each bag of beans to order.

This commitment to freshness suggests an appreciation for fine coffee that seems to be lacking among other purveyors of cold brew specialty blends.

The Metropolis Coffee Cold Brew Blend is another offering that is blended and roasted with cold brewing in mind.

The roast is atypically dark, giving a final product with flavors of dark melted chocolate, walnut and a hint of toast.

PROS

  • Each bag is roasted to order for maximum freshness.
  • Beans are available pre-ground or whole.

CONS

  • These beans are relatively expensive compared with others on the list.
  • They do not ship worldwide.
  • Many palates may identify the “toast” flavor as an unappealing burnt taste.
  • There is no information as to what beans make up the blend.

#6 - The Peet's Baridi Blend

Peet’s is one of largest and the most trusted roasters and distributors of quality coffees. Baridi (the Swahili word for cold) is a specialty blend designed for both iced coffee and cold brew.

Though not single-origin, the beans making up the blend are all sourced from East Africa: Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Rwanda.

Products from these nations were chosen to maximize aroma, a feature that is frequently lacking in cold coffee.

The fruity, juiciness of beans from this region makes this a particularly refreshing cold beverage.

After experimentation, a medium roast was settled upon to best deliver a bold, smooth and slightly sweet flavor.

PROS

  • Peet’s beans are widely available.
  • This blend is not confined to cold coffees alone; it is also excellent brewed hot.
  • Beans are available pre-ground or whole.

CONS

  • This is a blend, rather than a single-origin offering.
  • This is quite an expensive product.

#7 - The Costa Rica El Encino Natural Green Beans

Costa Rican natural coffee is often touted as a favorite for cold brew thanks to a crisp and bright berry note and an unmatched balance between acidity and light body.

Flavors of tart fruits such as strawberry, raspberry and rhubarb are accompanied by notes of balsamic and a very pleasant acidity at the finish.

These single-origin beans come from a high elevation farm at 1900 meters that was honored in the 2015 Costa Rica Cup of Excellence competition.

If you have the equipment and desire to roast at home, this is one of the best options for cold brew.

Light to medium roasts are suggested to bring out the delicate fruit flavors and nuances.

PROS

  • Single-origin beans allow you to truly experience the flavors of the region.
  • These beans are an award-winning product.
  • Green beans are lower priced and allow intimate control over the final product.
  • Bright Latin American beans tend to take better to the addition of milk.

CONS

  • Buying green beans means you need home roasting equipment and the time to roast them yourself.
  • Roasting at home also leaves more room for error.
  • The higher acidity means these are less suitable for those with sensitive stomachs.

THE VERDICT: Your Cold Brew Is Up to You

As I’ve already stated, the best coffee for cold brew is probably the one that tastes the best to you.

Dark or light roast, milk or cream, slow drip or infusion are all personal preferences that can influence your decision and any of the options reviewed above might appeal.

That said, the Stone Street Colombian Supremo is a great place to start. 

This single-origin offering uses world class beans to deliver a delicious bold flavor that is wonderful served hot or cold.

We’d love to hear what you thought of this article in the comments along with your recommendations for the best beans for cold brew.

If you enjoyed this round-up, please share it with your friends.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 1 comments
James Glaschek - August 11, 2018

This was one of the best write ups on cold brew. Very informative and helpful. I am very much looking forward to stepping up my cold brew game like a boss. Thanks guys/gals.

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