Coffee is best served hot. Some coffee snobs, including us sometimes, actually love it extra hot at cafes- 1800 F or even higher. However, there is a new trend that has gained popularity in the last few years: cold brew coffee- and most folks can’t get enough of it, especially during the summer.
It all starts with getting the best coffee beans for cold brew, knowing the perfect grind to go with, and then brewing it correctly.
If you are still green in this stuff, read on to learn which coffee beans make the best cold brew. Coffee Verdict has also identified 5 of the best cold coffee brands worth trying out today.
Best for High Caffeine Levels: Death Wish
Our gold badge for the best coffee beans for cold brew goes to Death Wish. This brand takes pride in having the highest caffeine levels. Not to take it lightly, coffee aficionados who’ve taken it will assert that it really gets you going.
Death Wish is a blend of Arabica and Robusta that has been slowly roasted to a dark roast. When steeped for 12-15 hours, these beans give you a concoction with a delicious, low-acidity brew with a smooth and robust taste.
In terms of flavor, Death Wish is bold and intense and has subtle notes of chocolate and cherry. Owing to its intensity, this is a highly recommendable brand if you like adding milk to your brew.
- High caffeine content
- Excellent flavor
- Smooth blend
Best for Freshness: Metropolis Coffee Company
If you are particularly serious about the freshness of your coffee beans, you need to check out what Metropolis has to offer. Theirs is a blend of 100% Arabica coffee sourced from various farms in South America.
The first thing that we like about these beans is that they are roasted to order from Monday to Thursday. The level of seriousness that this Chicago-based roaster has towards coffee freshness is enough proof of its commitment to ensuring high-quality coffee with every pack.
Much better, this company says that its atypically dark coffee blend is purposely engineered for cold brewing. Its end product has a sweet and chocolatey taste coupled with a smooth and roasty finish.
- Engineered for cold brewing
- Roasted to order
- Terrific taste
- Rich flavor
Best Medium-Dark Cold Brew Coffee: Cold Brew Lab
Based in New York City, Cold Brew Lab is one of the pioneers of cold coffee brewing. It’s not hard to see why it commands such an impressive followership among coffee lovers. If you are not sure whether to go for a medium roast or a dark one, this roaster has you in mind.
Cold Brew Lab crafts a unique roast level that is just perfect for cold brewing by combining medium and dark roasted beans. The end result is a well-rounded cup of coffee with superbly smooth and bold tastes and no hint of bitterness. The best part? Your beverage comes out nicely with or without milk.
Cold Brew Lab is a blend of 100% USDA-certified Arabica coffee.
- Smooth and delicious
- No bitterness
- Great flavor
Best Single Origin Coffee for Cold Brew: Stone Street Coffee (Colombian)
Stone Street is our recommendation if you are looking for the best single-origin coffee for cold brew. Unlike blended coffee brands that consist of coffees collected from different countries and regions, single-origin coffee variety is obtained from one specific country, region, or farm.
The main advantage of this coffee is that it lets you experience a particular flavor that is unique to coffee from a specific area. In our case, Stone Street is obtained from Colombia. If you are not new to coffee, you probably know that Colombia is known to produce some of the best coffee in the world due to its geographic location.
This coffee brand comes already perfectly ground and ready for brewing. It boasts a dark roast, and its brew is slightly sweet, well balanced, and very smooth with a characteristic full flavor profile.
- Super smooth
- Consistent grind
- Well balanced flavors
- Re-sealable bag
Best for Milk-based Cold Brew: Bizzy Organic Cold Brew Coffee
There’s no way Bizzy Organic would have missed a slot in these reviews of the best coffee beans in 2020. This roasting company was started by two gentlemen (Andrew and Alex) in a quest to craft a healthy, convenient, and effective energizer.
This is a blend of 100% Arabica coffee that is ethically sourced from Nicaragua and Peru. For those who value optimum convenience in the coffee brewing process, you’ll be glad that Bizzy Organic comes already coarsely ground.
True to this roaster’s claim, each brew of these coffee beans comes out strong with a pleasantly sweet and smooth flavor. Of most importance, it does not have that bitter taste that most low-quality cold coffee beans are known for.
- Comes perfectly ground
- Strong coffee with smooth flavor
- Great with or without milk
Cold coffee brew- what is it, and how is it made?
Cold coffee brew is just as it sounds: coffee that has been brewed in cold water. There is more to it, though.
Let’s start with what we understand best.
When it comes to pulling out a perfect shot of Joe the conventional way, 205 degrees Fahrenheit (or 96 degrees Celsius) is the lucky number. This is the ideal temperature for optimum extraction of the aromas and flavors hidden in your coffee beans.
What happens when you use water below or above 205 degrees F? You are right; you ruin your coffee. Pouring boiling water over your coffee grounds will extract the aromas and flavors too much too quickly, leaving your brew with a bitter and unpleasant taste.
On the other hand, cold water leads to under-extraction. It does not take all the flavor (or at least enough of it) from the coffee grounds. Consequently, your shot lacks sweetness and has a weird salty and sour taste plus a quick finish.
So, how is cold coffee brewing different?
Well, when brewing cold coffee, no heating is required at all. The water should be between 35.6 and 70 degrees F.
It’s also important to mention that cold coffee brew is different from iced coffee. With iced coffee, you simply chill hot coffee by pouring it over ice cubes or refrigerating it for a few hours.
In the sense that most coffee flavors and aromas are extracted at a particular temperature range, cold coffee brewing requires a more extended extraction period of 12-24 hours. Also, you need to use double the amount of coffee you’d use for a regular brew to achieve the prized characteristics that the best coffee beans for cold brew are known for.
How does cold brew coffee taste like?
In the conventional hot water brewing, heat extracts most of the intense and aromatic chemical compositions from your choice of best coffee beans. Consequently, your cup of coffee is laced with an acidic, notably bitter taste.
Since there’s no heat in cold coffee brewing, most flavors in your cold-brewed cup of coffee will be muted. In addition, your brew will be low in acid, thereby making this an excellent way of avoiding heartburn caused by drinking coffee.
A shot made from the best coffee beans for cold brew is slightly sweeter and a bit milder contrasted to an average hot brewed Joe.
To make up for the lost flavors and aromas, cold coffee brews have a robust, full body and an interestingly heavier mouthfeel. Its taste notes are close to chocolate, nuts, and dried spices.
How to Choose the Best Coffee Beans for Cold Brew
Now that cold coffee requires a completely different brewing approach, are there specific brands that make the best coffee beans for cold brew?
Well, it’s hard to categorically point at one type of coffee and say that this one was grown purposely for brewing cold coffee. However, there are a few guidelines that most cold brew coffee aficionados seem to adhere to:
Single Origin or Blend?
The very first area of consideration when preparing to brew cold brew is whether to go for single-origin beans or a blend. For those of us who aren’t exactly sure, single-origin refers to coffee that has been obtained from one region or country. These beans offer you the chance to experience one specific taste.
On the other hand, a blend refers to coffee beans obtained from different countries or regions that are roasted and mixed. Unlike single-origin beans, coffee blends bring different flavors together to create a diverse drinking experience.
While the best type of beans for cold brew comes down to personal preference, java experts say that single-origin varieties make a perfect choice. They explain that the cold brewing process brings out the subtle notes of single-origin beans in their most stripped-down form.
Notably, single-origin coffees tend to cost much more than what you’d pay for typical coffee at your local supermarket. In addition, their flavor isn’t always consistent since it depends on the season.
So, if you value consistency and would appreciate not spending so much on your coffee beans, we’d recommend going with a blend.
Roast- Dark, Medium, or Light?
If you enquire about different people’s opinions on which is the best roast for cold coffee, you’ll realize a huge divide between them. Some swear with light to medium roasts arguing that the cold brew process will take care of the high acidity levels that characterize these roasts.
However, most coffee enthusiasts will tell you that dark roast is the best for cold brew- and there is a good reason for this. A dark roast tends to complement the darker, more vibrant flavors that cold-brewed coffee is known for.
So, the best roast level for cold brew also comes down to personal preference. On this note, experts at CoffeeVerdict recommend starting from one end of the roast spectrum, moving towards the opposite end until you reach a taste you enjoy.
Unlike the other variables that are best left to personal preference, there exists a hard-and-fast rule on the best grind for cold brew. Since the process of cold brew involves steeping coffee grounds in coffee for 12-24 hours, a coarse grind like the one used for French press tends to offer the best results.
Contrasted to a finer grind, a coarse grind is less likely to leave your brew with a harsh or bitter taste and a grainy texture.
Should I add milk to cold brew coffee?
This also is entirely up to you. Most coffee lovers, however, tend to side with black cold brew coffee. Actually, what’s so special about cold brew coffee is its darker, richer flavors and nutty, chocolatey, and earthy taste. Importantly, these flavors are already subtle, so adding dairy would dilute them even further.
If you prefer adding milk to your coffee drinks, though, ensure that you start with a dark roast. Its bold and robust flavor tends to hold up much better than light and medium roasts when milk is added.
In addition, we’d advise starting with one part dairy and three parts cold brew coffee to ensure that your Joe is not lacking.
How do you make cold brew coffee at home?
Having understood all the basics regarding the best coffee beans for cold brew, let’s switch gear to the heart of this post; how to make cold coffee brew.
Step 1: Grinding your coffee beans
Coarsely grind 1 cup of coffee beans using the highest setting on your coffee grinder. Ideally, your grounds should look like beach sand or cornmeal, not wheat flour.
Step 2: Mixing
Add the grounds to a container with 4 cups of filtered, room temperature water. You may want to stir to saturate the grounds nicely.
Step 3: Steeping
Cover the container with a lid and let the mixture stay for 12-24 hours.
Step 4: Straining
After the steeping period has elapsed, use a cheesecloth-lined strain to transfer the coffee into a bowl. You can strain twice to ensure that there’s no sediment in your coffee concentrate.
Step 5: Storing
Finally, transfer the concentrate into a storage bottle or Mason jar and refrigerate for one to two weeks.
To make a cup, mix one part of water or dairy to three parts of coffee concentrate.
Coffee aficionados never run out of ideas on how best to take coffee. Honestly speaking, we never saw the idea of brewing coffee with cold water coming, but it’s all over now and actually pricier than the hot coffee that we are used too. All in all, we have to acknowledge that there’s no better way to caffeinate, especially when things get hot.
The best part is that you can make cold coffee at home. You only need the best coffee beans for cold brew coupled with a basic recipe like the one we’ve provided above.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is cold brew coffee more expensive than regular coffee?
The main reason why cold brew coffee is pricier than regular coffee is that the former requires more coffee to make, for instance, 5lbs to 5 gallons of water. Secondly, cold brewing takes a longer time, and the tools involved occupy a lot of space.
How long can you keep cold brew coffee?
Well, preserved cold brew coffee can last up to two weeks. However, its taste starts to degrade after week one.
Why is cold brew coffee so popular?
Cold brew coffee has become more mainstream for the following reasons;
- It has lower acidity levels.
- There is almost no wastage.
- It’s sweeter and smoother than regular hot brew coffee.
- You can serve it hot or cold.