One of the greatest joys of drinking coffee is the array of ways to consume. Drink it hot and straight, with frothed milk, mixed with syrup and ice, strong, weak, whatever your heart desires, but more methods than not rely on heating the beans.
With just a little bit of forethought, though, coffee can be brewed without any heat whatsoever, and it can result in less acidic coffee (great for those who suffer from acid reflux), and it also tends to bring out the chocolatier and nuttier notes of a bean, which is intriguing in and of itself.
Especially during the summer, cold brew can be great for getting a strong cup of chilled coffee without diluting it using tons of ice—I mean, we all feel like we’re getting a little ripped off when we get our iced coffee from the barista and see the entire cup jam packed with cube after cube.
Cold brewing is really an incredibly forgiving brew type and tends to mellow out the wide variety of variations among varietals, including the elevation they’re grown at, the processing, all of it. Basically, it’s actually less important to get a single origin or anything that touts “subtle flavors of,” because it’s likely that the cold brewing method won’t highlight them—since acids and solubles are only released at high temperatures, these flavors (and the stomach irritants that come along with them) will mostly be lost.
Additionally, coffee that’s brewed at cold temperatures goes stale at a much slower rate than hot-brewed coffee, so making a batch with enough to sate your caffeine addiction for an entire week is entirely recommended. This can also shave five or ten minutes off your morning routine!
The only downside to cold brewing versus hot brewing is that it does require twice the amount of grounds to yield the same amount of coffee. And, while just about any coffee can be brewed hot, not every bean is meant to be steeped in cold water for 12 hours.
You really don’t need to buy anything at all to cold brew coffee, which makes it a uniquely nonfussy route. As long as you have something that can hold water and some beans, you can do this. If you have a pitcher as an option, though, something with a spout, that’s preferable.
That said, cold brew pitchers designed specifically to make cold brewing as easy as possible are pretty affordable. We put together a list of the best cold brew coffee makers, so make sure to check them out.
The basic principle is using a ratio of 1:4. In other words, that’s one part coffee for every four parts of water. So, if you want to make enough cold brew for four 6-oz. cups, use 6 oz of coffee.
For a more detailed, step-by-step overview of this brewing process, check out our guide on how to make cold brew coffee.
There’s a lot that goes into how coffee brews, a lot of science-y stuff that, while interesting, still probably won’t answer the question of which brand of beans will be your favorite. Googling it probably won’t help either, since one person will swear by a light roast while the next link down will tell you that dark roast is the only way to go.
It honestly all comes down to preference, but do keep in mind that this is an entirely different ball game that the hot stuff. That said, there are several great places to start.
I’m a fan of companies that make things easy for me. Take Stone Street, for instance. While “cold brew coffee beans” aren’t a specific type of bean or anything (just like espresso beans aren’t a thing), it’s nice when they give you a hint, right?
The Stone Street Coffee Cold Brew Reserve is a dark roast and comes already coarsely ground, which is a nice perk—it’s 100% ready for you to put in a pitcher and let steep. It’s 100% arabica and is Single Origin Colombian Supremo. Slightly sweet and smooth, this is a great place to start a cold brew adventure.
Another dark roast that would steep well in cold water would be this Koffee Kult dark roast. With cocoa and cinnamon distinctly in the flavor profile, it’s an enjoyable option both hot, cold, and everywhere in between.
These beauts may be touted for making espresso shots, but they’d also make some fine, strong coffee that can withstand a handful of ice diluting it without losing its shabang. Its full body, sweet and creamy taste, and richness won’t get lost even after getting a good mellowing out for 12 hours.
Responsibly sourced and certified kosher, this dark coffee bean comes already coarsely ground, so you don’t have to do a single thing other than remember to dunk the beans in some water on Sunday night.
Kicking Horse is known for its caffeine kick, but that kick also comes with a lot of acidity. Cold brew is a great option for this medium roast, with its sweet, chocolaty, and honey notes. This arabica whole bean is organic and Fair-trade, grown in the Rocky Mountains, and originates from Africa, Central and South America.
This Java Planet bean has notes that are fruity as well as caramelly and chocolatey, so it works both hot and cold. These 100% arabica beans are certified organic, Fair Trade, and roasted in small batches for better quality control, as well as to avoid the over roasted or burnt taste that other companies have trademarked.
Another one that comes entirely ready to consume, Cold Brew Lab Coffee sends their bags pre-coarsely ground. This well-rounded, smooth brew is 100% arabica made of a blend of both medium and dark roasts to achieve a nuanced cup.
This is another company that does all of the work for you, plus. Hugo Roasters’ Cold Brew Coffee comes coarsely ground and has notes of chocolate, nuts, and spice, plus each pound of coffee sold helps a shelter dog in need. I love buying products I love that also help the sweet fur babies I love.
The ethically-sourced beans come from Utah and have a 100% satisfaction guarantee. Their New Trick Light Roast (whole bean) would also be a good option for cold brew.
Milk chocolate, earthy notes, and nuttiness are all a part of the Wink Coffee Blonde roast profile and Cold brewing really brings out the richness of this bean. There are also hints of citrus, but it’s unlikely they’ll be prominent using the cold brew method. The 100% arabica is grown in the Columbian Andes and fire-roasted in small batches.
Pick an end of the spectrum and go for it. If you normally drink a light roast, nab a dark roast and give that a try. When it comes to cold brew, we like to shake things up.
You can try the fanciest roasts straight away, or you select a more mainstream option like the Dunkin' Donuts Cold Brew Coffee Pack.
Cold brew is, hands-down, one of the least fussy methods and trying a few different types of coffee beans and nudging the steeping time this way and that will reveal what you love. Happy cold brewing!