Cold brew is one of the most simple coffee drinks to make at home and easiest to customize.
This versatile beverage is perfect for summer, and in this article, I’ll discuss some of the best coffee beans for making it at home.
Even though many coffee shops offer cold brew, making it at home offers more choice and the option of using fresher, higher quality beans.
What’s the difference between cold brew and iced coffee?
The terms “cold brew” and “iced coffee” are often used interchangeably, but they’re not the same thing.
Iced coffee is simply pouring hot coffee over ice. You can add milk and sugar to iced coffee, but the brewing process is still identical to hot coffee.
While you can allow your hot coffee to cool a bit before pouring over the ice, this will still produce a diluted drink.
Cold brew is coffee brewed without heat for several hours (usually overnight) and is then put through a filter. This creates less acidic coffee, has a more robust, bolder taste, and is actually more caffeinated than espresso.
If you want an in-depth look at the differences between these coffees, you can read more about them here.
What coffee roast is best for cold brew?
For cold brew, you’ll want to use a medium-dark roast. You don’t need to use the darkest roast you can find, but typically the richer, bolder, chocolatey flavor profile of dark roasts make for a better cold brew.
The most important thing is to use coarse ground coffee. This is because the cold water you’re going to be using to make your cold brew needs to circulate in order for the coffee flavor to be extracted.
What do I need to make cold brew at home?
There are lots of ways to make cold brew at home. The easiest way is to soak coarse ground coffee in an airtight container with cold water for at least 12 hours. When it’s done soaking, strain and enjoy.
For this method, you’ll want to use a ratio of one part whole coffee beans to four parts water. That means if you grind one cup (82 g) of coffee beans coarse, soak the grinds in four cups (950 ml) of cold water.
You can also use a French press to make cold brew. You may have used a French press before to make delicious hot coffee, but this method is just as effective for cold brew.
The ratio is slightly different when using a French press, so make sure to use two cups (470 ml) of water for every four oz (110 g) of coarsely ground coffee.
Add your coffee grounds to a French press and cover with water.
After letting it soak for 14 to 18 hours, press the plunger lid down until your grounds are entirely submerged and strain the liquid.
Now you have a cold brew concentrate that can be stored in the fridge for up to a week. To serve, add equal parts concentrate and equal parts water or milk.
You can also use an AeroPress to make cold brew coffee, which I cover in detail here.
Can you make cold brew with any coffee beans?
Technically you can use any beans for the cold brewing process, as long as they’re ground coarse. However, one of the best reasons to drink cold brew is that the reduced acidity will allow you to taste the full flavor of your roast.
If you want to get the most out of your cold brew, a darker roast is the way to go. These roasts generally have a more robust flavor and make your cold brew delicious without adding sugar or milk.
The 6 best coffee beans for cold brew
The best coffee beans for cold brew will be the ones that retain a strong flavor after brewing. To know if a particular roast is going to be good as cold brew, look on the bag for the flavor profile, origin, and roast type.
I’ll break down my top six beans for making cold brew below.
1. Nicaraguan coffee beans
Nicaraguan coffee is perfect for cold brew. It’s usually on the sweeter side, and many roasts give notes of citrus, caramel, and chocolate.
Most Nicaraguan coffee is “shade-grown” and organic and has a wide variety of flavors depending on how long it’s roasted.
Tiny Footprint Coffee’s Nicaraguan Organic Dark Roast from Amazon.com is chocolatey, nutty, and delicious. The undertones of fig and spice also come out nicely when brewing cold brew.
2. Colombian Supremo coffee beans
Colombian coffee is excellent for several different beverages, and cold brew is no exception.
Colombian Supremo, in particular, is the largest coffee bean grown in Colombia. With its bold and balanced flavor, there are lots to love with these beans.
This Fresh Roasted Coffee Colombian Supremo Dark Roast on Amazon is perfect for making cold brew at home. It stores well and still makes a fresh-tasting cup of coffee even after a couple of weeks.
It’s a slightly more medium roast than the rest of the beans on this list, but with its bold body and honey-cherry flavor, it’s still a great choice.
3. Arabica Colombian coffee
Arabica coffee just means this coffee comes from the Arabica plant, and this type of coffee can be grown in multiple locations across the world.
Colombian Arabica coffee, however, is especially tasty. The majority of coffee produced in Colombia is from this plant, so most Colombian coffees will have the light, sweet flavor of typical Arabica roasts.
Similar to Colombian Supremo roasts (many of which are also Arabica), these beans are great for cold brew because of their bold, toasted flavor and notes of chocolate.
For a perfect Columbian cold brew, try Stone Street’s 100% Arabica Dark Roast from Amazon.com. Freshly roasted in Brooklyn, New York, this blend is specifically designed for a cold brew and is perfect for an ice-cold summer coffee.
4. Indonesian coffee beans
Indonesia is also a large producer of Arabica beans, especially Sumatra. Sumatran coffees are known for their low acidity, making them perfect for cold brew.
Indonesian and Sumatran roasts are perfect for coffee lovers looking for an earthier, slightly less sweet flavor.
Most Sumatran coffee is also wet-hulled, which is essentially a washing technique that involves skinning the coffee beans and allowing them to ferment.
Wet-hulling creates a really unique flavor profile and allows these beans to taste really good when roasted dark. For a tasty, earthier cold brew, Volcanica Coffee Company’s Mandheling is an excellent option.
5. Guatemalan coffee
If you typically enjoy floral roasts, Guatemalan coffee beans make for a great cold brew. They can be roasted light, which becomes more fruity, or dark, which is more chocolatey, depending on what kind of coffee you’d like to make.
In the case of cold brew, dark roast Guatemalan coffee is a fine option.
What makes Guatemalan coffee special is the altitude at which it’s grown. Being that this coffee is usually harvested at an altitude of 5,000′, Guatemalan roasts have a unique aroma and flavor, and they’re typically full-bodied and moderately acidic.
Guatemala produces a massive amount of coffee annually, and factors like soil quality, sunlight, and rainfall of an area can affect the taste of different Guatemalan roasts.
However, there are lots of great options for high-quality, tasty Guatemalan coffee.
One of the best is Copper Moon Coffee’s Guatemalan Antigua Blend, available on Amazon, which is very rich and flavorful without being too bitter.
6. Columbian robusta coffee
Robusta coffee is Arabica’s darker, nuttier counterpart. These two types of coffee make up the majority of coffee beans you’ll find. While there are certainly others, and combinations of multiple kinds of coffee, these two are the most popular.
Unlike Arabica, Robusta coffee is more caffeinated and is slightly more bitter. That being said, it still makes a fantastic cup of cold brew and can actually give it a fuller, more rounded taste.
If you typically drink black coffee or slightly more bitter coffee, Colombian Robusta is a great choice for making cold brew. Additionally, if you want to make decaf cold brew, Robusta also makes up the majority of decaf roast coffee available.
One of the best options for Robusta beans is Top Shelf Grind’s Black Diamond Roast from Amazon.com, which is a highly caffeinated yet very palatable roast perfect for your next cold brew. It’s also much smoother than some other Robusta beans.
Other great coffee beans
Not sure yet about making cold brew coffee with the coffee beans mentioned in this article? Or just curious to see which coffee beans are out there?
I’ve got you covered! Check out the lists below to find great coffee beans for different brewing methods and recipes:
- Best Coffee Beans for Cappuccino
- Best Coffee Beans for Chemex
- Best Coffee Beans for Espresso
- Best Coffee Beans for French Press
- Best Coffee Beans for Latte
There are many easy options for making cold brew at home, but the best cold brew depends on your coffee beans of choice. When choosing a roast, consider what flavor profile you usually enjoy and find a dark roast that offers it.
Or even better, try something new.
Cold brew is a wonderful option for home baristas of all skill levels.
As long as you have coarse-ground coffee and a place to let your cold brew soak, you’re on the right track for finding a roast you’ll love and brewing a delicious, refreshing summer drink.