10 Best Coffee Beans for Cold Brew
One sip of cold brew coffee is enough to make you a convert. The lengthy brewing time, specialty gear, the art of grinding, all add to the unique taste. The best coffee beans let you nail the flavor profile without fancy equipment and have a fresh brew every morning.
This write-up explores the world of cold brew coffee and some tips and tricks along the way. But before we delve into that, here is a quick list of the best coffees for cold brew.
- How to Choose the Best Coffee Beans for Cold Brew
- Best Coffee Beans for Cold Brew
- 1. Lifeboost Coffee Light Roast – Best Overall
- 2. Cafe Du Monde Coffee Chicory – Best Exotic Flavor
- 3. Stumptown Coffee Roasters Hair Bender – Best Dark Roast
- 4. Peet’s Coffee Baridi Blend – Best Medium Roast
- 5. Volcanica Coffee – Best Taste
- 6. Cold Buzz Coffee Hazelnut Cold Brew – Best Ground Coffee
- 7. Death Wish Coffee – Strongest Coffee
- 8. Stone Street Coffee Cold Brew Reserve – Best for Aspiring Baristas
- 9. Tiny Footprint Coffee – Best Organic
- 10. Volcanica Coffee Toraja Sulawesi – Best for Coffee Connoisseurs
- The Verdict – What is the Best Coffee for Cold Brew?
How to Choose the Best Coffee Beans for Cold Brew
|Lifeboost Coffee Light Roast||
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|Cafe Du Monde Coffee Chicory||
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|Stumptown Coffee Roasters Hair Bender||
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|Peet’s Coffee Baridi Blend||
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|Volcanica Coffee Ethiopian Yirgacheffe||
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|Cold Buzz Coffee Hazelnut Cold Brew||
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|Death Wish Ground Coffee||
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|Stone Street Coffee Cold Brew Reserve – Colombian Dark Roast for Cold Brew||
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|Tiny Footprint Coffee||
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|Volcanica Coffee Toraja Sulawesi||
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|Bizzy Organic Cold Brew||
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Grinding your own coffee beans is better, but there are great pre-ground options for cold brew coffee. The following sections answer the most important questions when choosing the best coffee beans for cold brew. And there is a bonus at the end!
Cold water extracts the coffee flavor without making it taste bitter. So you get a more chocolatey flavor and a taste of the real bean.
Why Light Roasts Are Ideal for Cold Brewing
Some say light roasts make the best coffee for cold brew. Some say the best beans for this brew method are dark roasted. Coffee aficionados have long debated the best roast level for cold brew. There is no definitive answer, but light roasts often outperform the dark ones so consider this when picking roasted coffee beans and signing up for coffee subscription boxes.
The secret lies in the cold brew method and the coffee beans’ natural characteristics. For example, making cold brew coffee using JBM tends to produce a highly acidic drink. As a rule, light roasting retains most of the beans’ original flavors. The cold brew steeping time is much longer which allows for a rich, bold taste, although some more delicate notes might be lost. Here’s our list of the best light roast coffee.
Hate waiting? You can opt for instant coffee, like these, instead but we don’t guarantee it’ll taste as good as cold brew.
That said, lighter roasts that are more acidic let subtle herbal, fruity, and citrusy notes shine through (1). And don’t forget that the brewing temperature (35°F to 70°F) significantly affects the taste.
The Amount of Coffee Required for Cold Brew Coffee
The amount of coffee required for cold brewing is flexible. However, you can start with a cup of coffee beans for every four cups of water (2). This should be enough to fill a 32oz coffee press, for example. If this isn’t sufficient, double the dose.
The quantity might be greater than you are used to and you could see the bottom of the bag after a few brews. This is one of the reasons novice cold brew coffee enthusiasts go for more affordable blends.
Are You Adding Milk or Not?
Some hard-core cold brew coffee lovers think that adding milk is sacrilege. But a few spoonfuls of dairy or non-dairy milk can add to the taste of the cold brew (3).
For example, if you like regular milk, you should get away with a dark roast. The milk breaks some of the earthiness in the flavor and makes the coffee creamier. On the other hand, almond milk can bring together the floral or fruity notes or a more acidic medium roast. Either way, don’t be afraid to experiment, that’s where half the fun comes from.
Best Coffee Beans for Cold Brew
Want to know the 10 brands that made the cut? Read on and find what makes each unique.
If you’re a fan of light roast coffee and cold brew, surprise surprise: You’ll love this pick.
Lifeboost’s Nicaraguan Arabica bean is among the best premium coffees. Moreover, this brand’s scientific coffee production guarantees consistency in their premium flavors. For instance, they tested this coffee for mycotoxins, heavy metals, pesticides + 400 other toxins.
Lifeboost Coffee Light Roast is perfect for cold brew for several reasons. First, the cold brew method emphasizes its natural flavory notes. Second, its super-low acidity makes it easy to drink. But when you make cold brew with it, and leave it to rest for 16+ hours, this coffee becomes the smoothest cold brew drink you’ve ever tasted.
BEST SUITED FOR: Coffee geeks.
New Orleans, coffee, and chicory: get the idea? The scent of this coffee transports you to the exciting world of jazz music and hedonism. Plus, this blend comes from the iconic French Market Coffee Stand.
Staying true to its NOLA roots, this blend uses chicory root to remove bitterness from the dark roast beans. There is no info about the coffee beans’ origin, but most likely they are from Central or South America.
The flavor is chocolatey and somewhat sweet, with just a hint of bitterness in the aftertaste. This brew goes well with dairy and non-dairy milk. Don’t hesitate to use it for a cold brew latte or iced coffee with coconut milk.
It’s worth noting that this is a pack of three and you get 15oz of coffee in each. It should be enough for five or more large batches.
It tastes like your regular stuff. A little stronger, I did follow the instructions for one tablespoon per cup. But it’s a really robust, more of a darker roast.
BEST SUITED FOR: Those yearning for the exotic flavors of long-gone times.
Can you get a great cold brew from dark roast? Of course you can, and this blend from the famous Stumptown coffee shop will prove it.
Hair Bender has a complex flavor, and it gets better with the slow brewing process. The beans come from Africa, Latin America, and Indonesia and are roasted in small batches to unleash their full potential.
Dark chocolate and citrus notes dominate the palate, but you can also taste some of the earthiness that comes from the Indonesian coffee beans. Despite being a dark roast, this coffee has some sweetness to it, especially in the aftertaste.
You should also know that the company got the B Corp status which means they are dedicated to sustainability. You are getting top-quality coffee beans that have been harvested in an environmentally friendly way.
Finally, the Stumptown Hair Bender coffee beans are among the most versatile. Just zero in on the grind size and you can also use it for pour over, drip coffee, and espresso. If you like espresso, you can check out more espresso beans here.
BEST SUITED FOR: Coffee lovers who like to experiment with different brewing methods.
Want an artisan blend that’s crafted especially for cold brew? Peet’s Coffee Baridi is the way to go. These East African coffee beans have natural flavors perfectly suited for cold coffee. Once medium roasted, the beans’ sweetness springs to life, helping create a super-crisp brew.
Aside from sweetness, the Baridi Blend offers a fruity and floral body, plus there is some acidity. This is one of the reasons the long steeping process releases all the tasting notes. The resulting cold brew coffee can be described as clean, with lingering floral notes.
Peet’s Baridi blend is available in whole bean or grounds. The coffee beans are roasted when you place the order, so there is no need to worry about the freshness. And its sweetness and profile shines in coffee press, drip, cold brew and pour over methods. By the way, we listed the best coffee drippers coffee makers here.
BEST SUITED FOR: Someone looking to start the cold brew adventure with a great bean.
Volcanica Coffee needs little introduction. Their beans have excited the palates of most demanding coffee buffs. But what makes their Ethiopian Yirgacheffe so special?
The secret lies in the harvesting method and the distinct taste. Most Yirgacheffe beans are collected from wild trees, making the brew all the more exotic. This strain of coffee is Arabica, but it differs from other types of Ethiopian Arabica because of fruity and floral tasting notes.
This coffee is mildly acidic. When brewed at room temperature, the Yirgacheffe medium roast releases an explosion of blueberry, lavender, strawberry, and dark chocolate.
You’ll also pick up a cedar aroma, and the rather sweet body ends with just a touch of bitterness in the aftertaste. And a hot brewing process opens up a completely different world with Yirgacheffe.
BEST SUITED FOR: Someone looking to take cold brew coffee to a completely different level.
Want to give cold brew coffee a try, but don’t have a grinder? No problem. Cold Buzz Coffee is there to help. This package includes five bags of pre-ground coffee, yielding 16oz to 20oz of brew per bag.
Plus, there is a quick start guide, and you can even brew this one in a simple Mason jar. Convenience is great, but what about the origin and the taste? The grounds come from Arabica beans, but the manufacturer doesn’t say where they were grown.
When it comes to taste, hazelnut and other nutty tones dominate the body. Overall, this blend can be described as refreshing, with a medium finish. If nutty flavors are not your thing, Cold Buzz has a few other cold brew coffee blends.
Details about the light to medium roast level for this blend are scarce. There are other options if you wish to go to the dark side.
BEST SUITED FOR: Beginners and outdoorsy people. People say campsite brewing enriches the flavor.
Look beyond the eerie name and you’ll see a lot of TLC has gone into this blend. Right off the bat, Death Wish is USDA Organic and Fair Trade certified. This means you are getting top-quality coffee grounds without chemicals or additives.
This dark roast blend combines Arabica and Robusta beans for a high caffeine kick and the beans come from India and Peru. The green beans are slow-roasted until dark, in batches kept under 65 pounds.
The beans are pre-ground and they should work great with any cold brew coffee maker. However, you should know that the coffee grounds might be a bit on the finer side. Experiment with shorter brewing/steeping periods, and consider running it through a coffee filter twice.
Either way, you’ll get a full-bodied brew with just a touch of chocolate and cherry. The taste is quite intense but there is no bitterness, despite it being a dark roast.
BEST SUITED FOR: A perfect pick-me-up to keep you going throughout the day.
Stone Street’s blends have amassed an army of loyal fans, and this Colombian coffee is no different. This artisan coffee features only Colombian Supremo Arabica which has been slow-roasted to a dark level. It is one of the best Colombian coffee brands, in my opinion.
The beans come pre-ground and have superbly uniform consistency and particle size. As such, they are perfect for your cold brew, or you can try them out in a coffee press or Chemex. Whatever you choose, the flavor is bound to impress you.
This coffee has low acidity, which is good for people with sensitive tummies. It also has a smooth body and great balance of tasting notes. There is some sweetness to it and the secondary tones give off chocolatey and earthy tones. The Cold Brew Reserve is not bitter at all and you might also feel citrusy hints.
Lastly, this Colombian gem belongs to the great value for the money category and you can also get it as whole beans. After all, it’s best to grind just before brewing.
BEST SUITED FOR: Any aspiring barista – a great all-around coffee.
While we rounded up a bunch of great organic coffee here, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more organic coffee than Tiny Footprint. Shade-grown and USDA Organic certified, part of the earnings go to preserving the forests in Ecuador. But there’s much more to this coffee.
The company combines dark and light Arabica roasts with top Ethiopian coffees to achieve a unique flavor profile. And it’s interesting that a vintage German machine is responsible for the roasting. Of course, the roaster has been computerized for consistency and quality control.
This blend has a silky sweet body with pronounced fruity and floral notes. Plus, there is a touch of cocoa in the aftertaste. One pound of beans is enough to brew about 1.5 gallons of cold brew coffee and this blend is available as coffee grounds as well.
Given Tiny Footprint’s flavor profile, you can also experiment with other brewing methods. These beans should also work great in a French Press.
BEST SUITED FOR: Those seeking a coffee blend to match their organic lifestyle.
How to make the best coffee for cold brew? Find some centuries-old Arabica trees, pick the beans, and roast them to perfection. However, this quick description doesn’t do the Toraja Sulawesi justice.
It takes four days on horseback to reach the area where these beans grow, and the prized White Eagle variant is the cream of the crop. Only 300 to 600 bags are harvested every year, making this coffee super-exclusive.
Sulawesi beans have medium acidity, smooth body, and a rather sweet aftertaste. A cup of cold brew coffee may also reveal some earthy undertones and a touch of dark chocolate. This primarily comes from the mineral-rich Indonesian soil.
As for the roast, it’s medium and well-suited for most manual brews. The coffee has Fair Trade and Shade Grown certificates, and it’s worth noting that exclusivity and limited volume come at a price.
BEST SUITED FOR: Those for whom money is no object in the search for exotic and rare coffee.
The Verdict – What is the Best Coffee for Cold Brew?
What is the best coffee for cold brew? Well, the best cold brew coffee beans depend on your taste, and it’s a challenge to single out just one brand.
If you aim for a gourmet cold brew coffee, Toraja Sulawesi and Pete’s Coffee Baridi are bound to excite your palate. The Stumptown Hair Bender might be the most versatile, but Cafe Du Monde is not far behind. Don’t take our word for it – go out and try them. If you prefer low acid coffee that is also 100% Arabica, we recommend out top pick, Lifeboost Coffee Light Roast.
Yes, you can use regular coffee for cold brew, but the taste might not be up to par. The coarse grind recommended for cold brew helps provide the correct extraction with the lengthy, low-temperature brewing method (4). If your heart is really set on using regular coffee, pick Arabica or some of our top picks here. Go for a lighter roast. This way, you’ll get a better chance of pulling a decent brew.
Yes, cold brew can be considered healthier because it preserves more antioxidants from the beans. However, you should take this with a pinch of salt because some cold brews can also be very high in caffeine.
Yes, cold brew coffee can be good for weight loss because it’s rich in caffeine. But don’t rely solely on your cold brews, they work best when combined with an exercise routine and healthy diet.
Yes, you can make decaf cold brew using decaffeinated beans like the ones here. The only problems are: you may not have much choices compared to when buying regular coffee beans and it may not taste as good as the beans recommended for cold brew.
- Reinventing the (Flavor) Wheel: Industry Collaborates to Identify Coffee Flavor Attributes. (2017, June 27). Retrieved from https://scanews.coffee/2016/01/19/reinventing-the-flavor-wheel-industry-collaborates-to-identify-coffee-flavor-attributes/
- Food52. (2019, May 20). How to Make Cold-Brewed Coffee. Retrieved from https://food52.com/blog/7317-how-to-make-cold-brewed-coffee
- Which Non-Dairy Milk Tastes Best in Iced Coffee? We Tested & Tasted. (2017, August 9). Retrieved from https://curious.stratford.edu/2017/08/09/which-non-dairy-milk-tastes-best-in-iced-coffee-we-tested-tasted/
- Coffee Extraction and How to Taste It. (2019, May 22). Retrieved from https://baristahustle.com/blog/coffee-extraction-and-how-to-taste-it/
Husband, father and former journalist, I’ve combined my love of writing with my love of coffee to create this site. I love high end products, but write all my content with budget conscious coffee enthusiasts in mind. I prefer light roasts, and my normal brew is some sort of pour over, although my guilty pleasure is the occasional flat white.