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The Best Coffee for Cold Brew

If you’re anything like me, you are a true coffee lover, through and through. While I love making coffee in a Chemex most of the time, I also love cold brew.

Cold brew has gotten a lot of attention in recent years in large part thanks to its smooth, bold flavor profile. With a touch of cream, it’s true wonder.

Here’s the deal though – to achieve that cold brew flavor, you need the right coffee, which is why we’re all about choosing the best coffee for cold brew.

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Why We Love Cold Brew

Before diving into the nitty gritty of coffee beans, let’s chat about cold brew itself and why it is so good.

This crisp, refreshing coffee drink is exactly what it sounds like – a coffee brew made by steeping ground coffee beans in cold water for an extended period.

Typically it takes somewhere around 12-24 hours and delivers a smoother, less acidic taste than hot-brew coffee with a subtle sweetness and smooth flavor.

You’ll find it served at national coffee chains as well as your favorite indie coffee shop, but it’s also decidedly easy to brew your own cold brew at home.

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How to Choose the Best Coffee for Cold Brew

As with any coffee, the foundation of cold brew flavor is dependent upon the coffee beans you choose. Here are a few factors to keep in mind:

Roast Level 

When it comes to the roast level, medium roasts are your best bet for cold brew. Medium roast strikes balance between the acidity of light roasts and the deeper flavor of dark roast.

Coffee beans with a medium roast generally preserve more of the flavor of the beans you’ve selected and pack a balanced acidity that doesn’t overpower.

Coffee Bean Origin

Believe it or not, different coffee origins allow for distinct flavors when making cold brew. Personal preference is key, but a popular options include:

  • South American Beans – Brazilian and Colombian beans typically mean nuttier, chocolatey coffee with caramel notes.
  • African Beans – Popular Ethiopian and Kenyan beans tend to be a bit more fruity and floral, or even wine-like in flavor profile.

Bean Grind

Coffee lovers know that the size of your bean grind plays a large role in your finished coffee beverage whether it be iced coffee, hot coffee or cold brew.

When making cold brew, opt for a coarse grind. It helps prevent over-extraction when steeping and reduces the risk of sediment in your final brew.

Beans or Pre-Ground Coffee for Cold Brew?

Fresh coffee beans make all the difference when making cold brew, much like any type of coffee you might be making at home.

When embarking on the cold brewing process, check out the roast dates and choose the best beans you can. Whole bean coffee will always be the freshest.

If you want a really good cold brew, beans from local roasters are a great option. They are almost guaranteed to be fresh and supporting local business.

When possible use a burr grinder, but if you don’t have a coffee grinder you should be able to grind them at the grocery store if they sell whole beans.

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The Best Coffee for Cold Brew

Now that we’ve talked about roast type (light roast vs. darker roasts), flavor notes, and types of coffee, consider these for the best cold brew coffee beans:

  • Blue Bottle Coffee – Three Africas – This blend of three African beans is bright, vibrant, and floral with notes of black tea, citrus and berry.
  • Stumptown Coffee Roasters – Holler Mountain – This unique blend is rich and complex with cocoa, fig and nutty undertones.
  • Counter Culture Coffee – Big Trouble – Another unique blend, this one is smooth and balanced with hints of caramel and milk chocolate.
  • Verve Coffee Roasters – Sermon – Bright and fruity, this blend is known for its notes of blueberry and citrus with a touch of floral.

How To Store Coffee Beans

Once you’ve settled on your personal favorite beans to use with the cold brewing method, proper storage will help maintain freshness:

  1. Transfer your beans to an airtight container as soon as you get them home. This prevents exposure to air, light, and moisture.
  2. Store your coffee container in a cool, dark place, away from direct sunlight and heat sources.
  3. Avoid the freezer! Contrary to popular belief, the freezer isn’t the best place for coffee beans. It can cause condensation, leading to moisture damage.
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How to Brew Cold Brew

There are different ways to make the refreshing cold brew of your dreams at home. Here is one immersion method for making cold brew that doesn’t require special equipment.

  1. When getting started, opt for a 1:4 coffee-to-water ratio. For instance, 1 cup of coarsely ground coffee to 4 cups of cold, filtered water.
  2. Mix the coffee grounds (remembering grind size) and water in a large jar or pitcher. Stir gently to ensure all the coffee is wet.
  3. Cover the container (a mason jar also works great) and let the coffee steep in the refrigerator for about 12-24 hours.
  4. Strain the coffee using a fine mesh strainer or a cold brew filter. Your cold-brewed coffee is now ready to sip!
  5. Serve cold brew over ice, adding water or milk as desired to achieve the sweet spot when it comes to flavor.
  6. Optionally, add a touch of sweetness with simple syrup, brown sugar or flavored syrups if you prefer.

There you have it – our tips tips for selecting the best coffee for cold brew. In a nutshell we recommend a coarse ground coffee and experimenting.

As you taste test different coffee beans and brewing methods, you’ll land on what you consider to be the best grind and best results for your personal palate.