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What are the Best Coffee Beans for Cold Brew?

One sip of cold brew is enough to make you a convert. The lengthy brewing time, specialty gear, the art of grinding, all add to the unique taste. The right beans let you nail the flavor profile without fancy equipment and have a fresh brew every morning.

At A Glance:

TOP PICK

Lifeboost Single Origin Light Roast

This Arabica single origin light roast, organic coffee from lifeboost coffee is hand Picked, spring water washed and its Mycotoxin and Pesticide Free. Tastes AMAZING when cold brewed, you’ll love it!

This write-up explores the world of cold brew 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.

  • Cafe Du Monde Coffee Chicory – For A Traditional New Orleans Touch
  • Stumptown Coffee Roasters Hair Bender – Beans That Will Make Your Hair Bend
  • Peet’s Coffee Baridi Blend – Best for Cold Brew Newbies
  • Volcanica Coffee Ethiopian Yirgacheffe – For Those Who Like Fruity Blueberry Aroma
  • Cold Buzz Coffee Hazelnut Cold Brew – Easy-to-Brew Beans
  • Death Wish Ground Coffee – Cold Brew Coffee With a Kick
  • Stone Street Coffee Cold Brew Reserve – Colombian Dark Roast for Cold Brew
  • Tiny Footprint Coffee – World’s First Carbon-Negative Coffee
  • Volcanica Coffee Toraja Sulawesi – From Coffee Trees up to 250 Years Old
  • Bizzy Organic Cold Brew – Smooth and Sweet
light roasts make the best coffee for cold brew

How to Choose the Best Coffee Beans for Cold Brew and Best Coffee Grounds for Cold Brew

Grinding your own beans is better, but there are great pre-ground options for cold brew. The following sections answer the most important questions about your choice. 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

Coffee aficionados have long debated the best roast level for cold brewing. There is no definitive answer, but light roasts often outperform the dark ones so consider this when pick roasted beans and signing up for coffee subscription boxes.

The secret lies in the brewing method and the beans’ natural characteristics. For example, making cold brew using JBM tends to produce a highly acidic drink. As a rule, light roasting retains most of the beans’ original flavor profile. 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.

Dark roasting may destroy some of the beans’ tasting notes. With cold water and long steeping time, the brew might turn bland.

The Amount of Coffee Required for Cold Brewing

The amount of coffee required is flexible. However, you can start with a cup of beans for every four cups of water (2). This should be enough to fill a 32oz French 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 enthusiasts go for more affordable blends.

Did you know that when refrigerated, cold brew can be good for a week or more?

Are You Adding Milk or Not?

Some hard-core cold brew lovers think that adding milk is sacrilege. But a few spoonfuls of dairy or non-dairy milk can add to the taste of the 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.

Bonus – The Best Cold Brew Coffee Recipe

You don’t need fancy equipment to make a good cup of cold brew. There are a few tricks to making the best cold brew, regardless of the beans you choose.

First, measure the desired amount – about 1 cup of coffee per 4 cups of water – and make sure to select the coarse grind setting in your coffee grinder. Remember, the longer the brewing/steeping time, the coarser the grinds should be. For the steeping process, you can use any glass container – a French press works great.

Leave the water-coffee mixture to steep for about 12 hours, then filter it. There are specialty filters and bags, but a regular coffee filter works just fine. After the filtration, dilute with cold water – start with a 1:1 ratio – and take a sip.

Best Coffee Beans and Grounds for Cold Brew – Reviews

Image Product Details
Our Top Pick Our Top Pick Cafe Du Monde Coffee Chicory
  • Type: Blend
  • Roast: Dark
  • Tasting notes: Chocolatey, sweet, a touch of bitterness
SEE ON AMAZON
Stumptown Coffee Roasters Hair Bender
  • Type: Blend
  • Origin: Indonesia, Africa, Latin America
  • Roast: Dark
SEE ON AMAZON
Best for Newbies Best for Newbies Peet’s Coffee Baridi Blend
  • Type: Blend
  • Origin: East Africa
  • Roast: Medium
Click to Check Price
Volcanica Coffee Ethiopian Yirgacheffe
  • Type: Single origin
  • Origin: Ethiopia
  • Roast: Medium
CLICK TO CHECK PRICE
Cold Buzz Coffee Hazelnut Cold Brew
  • Type: Blend
  • Origin: Unknown
  • Tasting notes: Nutty
See on Amazon
Strongest Strongest Death Wish Ground Coffee
  • Type: Blend
  • Origin: India and Peru
  • Roast: Dark
See on Amazon
Stone Street Coffee Cold Brew Reserve – Colombian Dark Roast for Cold Brew
  • Type: Single origin
  • Origin: Colombia
  • Roast: Dark
See on Amazon
Tiny Footprint Coffee
  • Type: Blend
  • Origin: Ethiopia, Central America
  • Roast: Mix (dark + light)
SEE ON AMAZON
Volcanica Coffee Toraja Sulawesi
  • Type: Single origin
  • Origin: Indonesia
  • Roast: Medium
Click to Check Price
Bizzy Organic Cold Brew
  • Type: Blend
  • Origin: Central and South America
  • Roast: Medium
See on Amazon

Want to know the 10 brands that made the cut? Read on and find what makes each unique.

1. Cafe Du Monde Coffee Chicory – Traditional New Orleans Coffee with Chicory

Cafe Du Monde Coffee Chicory

Specifications

  • Type: Blend
  • Origin: N/A
  • Roast: Dark
  • Tasting notes: Chocolatey, sweet, a touch of bitterness

SEE ON AMAZON

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 roasted beans. There is no info about the 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.

2. Stumptown Coffee Roasters Hair Bender – Dark Espresso Roast

Stumptown Coffee Roasters Hair Bender

Specifications

  • Type: Blend
  • Origin: Indonesia, Africa, Latin America
  • Roast: Dark
  • Tasting notes: Sweet, dark chocolate, citrusy

SEE ON AMAZON

Can you get a great cold brew from dark espresso roast? Of course you can, and this blend from the famous Stumptown coffee shop will prove it.

Hair Bender has a complex flavor profile, 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 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 beans that have been harvested in an environmentally friendly way.

Finally, the Stumptown Hair Bender 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.

3. Peet’s Coffee Baridi Blend – A Medium-Roast Blend of East African Coffees

peets baridi blend

Specifications

  • Type: Blend
  • Origin: East Africa
  • Roast: Medium
  • Tasting notes: Sweet, fruity, and floral

CLICK TO CHECK PRICE

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 finish can be described as clean, with lingering floral notes.

Peet’s Baridi blend is available as whole beans or grounds. The 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 French press, drip, cold brew and pour over methods. By the way, we listed the best pour over coffee makers here.

BEST SUITED FOR: Someone looking to start the cold brew adventure with a great bean.

4. Volcanica Coffee – Ethiopian Yirgacheffe (Delicate Blueberry Aroma in Cold Brew)

volcanica ethiopian coffee beans

Specifications

  • Type: Single origin
  • Origin: Ethiopia
  • Roast: Medium
  • Tasting notes: Floral with lavender notes, blueberries, and dark chocolate

CLICK TO CHECK PRICE

Volcanica Coffee needs little introduction. Their blends and single origin 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 single origin 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 hot brewing opens up a completely different world with Yirgacheffe.

BEST SUITED FOR:  Someone looking to take cold brewing to a completely different level.

5. Cold Buzz Coffee Hazelnut Cold Brew – Already in a Bag for Ease of Cold Brewing

Cold Buzz Coffee Hazelnut Cold Brew

Specifications

  • Type: Blend
  • Origin: N/A
  • Roast: N/A
  • Tasting notes: Nutty

SEE ON AMAZON

Want to give cold brewing 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 Coffee has a few other cold brew 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.

6. Death Wish Ground Coffee – Strong Coffee

Death Wish Ground Coffee

Specifications

  • Type: Blend
  • Origin: India and Peru
  • Roast: Dark
  • Tasting notes: Chocolatey, with a touch of cherry

SEE ON AMAZON

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 grounds without chemicals or additives.

This 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 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.

7. Stone Street Coffee Cold Brew Reserve – Colombian Dark Roast for Cold Brew

Stone Street Coffee Cold Brew Reserve

Specifications

  • Type: Single origin
  • Origin: Colombia
  • Roast: Dark
  • Tasting notes: Sweet, low acid, a touch of chocolates and earthy notes

SEE ON AMAZON

Stone Street’s blends have amassed an army of loyal fans, and this single-origin Colombian is no different. This artisan coffee features only Colombian Supremo Arabica which has been slow-roasted to a dark level.

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 French press or Chemex. Whatever you choose, the flavor profile is bound to impress you.

This single-origin 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.

8. Tiny Footprint Coffee – World’s First Carbon-Negative Coffee

Tiny Footprint Coffee

Specifications

  • Type: Blend
  • Origin: Ethiopia, Central America
  • Roast: Mix (dark + light)
  • Tasting notes: Floral and fruity with a pronounced sweetness

SEE ON AMAZON

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 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.

9. Volcanica Coffee Toraja Sulawesi – Sulawesi Beans, Some from Trees up to 250 Years Old

volcanica toraja sulawesi

Specifications

  • Type: Single origin
  • Origin: Indonesia
  • Roast: Medium
  • Tasting notes: Sweet, medium acidity, somewhat earthy

CLICK TO CHECK PRICE

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 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.

10. Bizzy Organic Cold Brew – “Smooth & Sweet” Blend of Central & South American Coffees at a Medium Roast

Bizzy Organic Cold Brew

Specifications

  • Type: Blend
  • Origin: Central and South America
  • Roast: Medium
  • Tasting notes: Sweet with caramel and hazelnut notes

SEE ON AMAZON

Bizzy Organic is one of the newcomers to the cold brew niche. However, their proprietary blend gives the competition a good run for their money.

It all starts by sourcing the best Arabica beans from South and Central America. The beans are sustainably produced and sport the USDA Organic certificate before being slow-roasted to a medium roast. The company uses a special grinding technique that helps you get a great cup of cold brew every time.

All this makes Bizzy Organic almost 70% less acidic than regular coffee. The body is smooth with subtle notes of caramel and hazelnut. There is also enduring sweetness with a mild and refreshing finish.

In addition to the Smooth & Sweet, Bizzi also offers Light & Bright and Dark & Bold options. The names hint at their flavor profiles, and they also come pre-ground. If you need some hot coffee, don’t hesitate to use Bizzi in a French press.

BEST SUITED FOR: Cold brew veterans or novices looking for a great option throughout the day.

The Bottom Line

What is the best coffee for cold brew? That depends on your taste, and it’s a challenge to single out just one brand.

If you aim for a gourmet coffee brew, 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.

FAQs

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.

References
  1. 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/
  2. Food52. (2019, May 20). How to Make Cold-Brewed Coffee. Retrieved from https://food52.com/blog/7317-how-to-make-cold-brewed-coffee
  3. 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/
  4. Coffee Extraction and How to Taste It. (2019, May 22). Retrieved from https://baristahustle.com/blog/coffee-extraction-and-how-to-taste-it/
cold brew coffee being poured into a glass
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