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Best Coffee for Cold Brew in 2020: 7 Freezin’ Good Beans

What better way to savor a taste of summer all year round than to drink a mellow and refreshing cold brew? Since it’s so different from traditional hot-brewed java, you should use the best coffee for cold brews if you want to get barista-worthy results.

After a little overview of cold brew coffee to clarify the most popular misconceptions and avoid common mistakes, we’ll introduce you to our favorite coffee for cold brew in the entire world. Cool beans, right?

OUR TOP PICK

atlas coffee club review

To enjoy cold brews like a coffee connoisseur, we recommend grabbing yourself a subscription that sends you freshly-roasted single-origin beans as frequently as you want. Our favorite? The highly-customizable Atlas Cold Brew Coffee subscription, that complements different beans with useful tasting notes and brewing tips.

Best Coffee Beans for Cold Brew: Top 7 Reviews

Here’s a taste of the hottest beans and subscriptions to use for the coldest brews:

Atlas Cold Brew Coffee
  • Most customizable and best subscription overall
  • Different single-origin beans every month
  • Available as beans or grounds, subscription or one-time purchase
See Discount Price →
Lifeboost Coffee
  • Organic, single-origin beans
  • Shade-grown at high elevations
  • Available as beans or grounds, subscription or one-time purchase
See Discount Price →
Volcanica Cold Brew
  • A blend specifically created for cold brews
  • Best East-African beans, roasted to order
  • Available as beans or grounds, subscription or one-time purchase
View on Amazon →
Peet's Baridi Blend
  • Grown at high altitudes on volcanic soil
  • The company supports a water charity
  • Available as a one-time purchase, as beans or grounds of different sizes
Check Latest Price →
Stone Street Coffee Cold Brew Reserve
  • 100% Arabica and single-origin
  • Great value for money
  • Available as a one-time purchase, as beans or grounds
View on Amazon →
Cafe Du Monde Coffee Chicory
  • The same coffee served at the iconic Cafe Du Monde, est. 1862
  • Nutty and chocolatey
  • Available as grounds and as a one-time purchase only
View on Amazon →
Tiny Footprint Coffee
  • Carbon-negative
  • 100% organic and crafted for cold brews
  • Available as a one-time purchase, as beans or grounds
View on Amazon →

Now that you have a general idea, we can actually spill the beans about our top 7 types of coffee for cold brew!

The best single-origin coffee from different corners of the world… straight to your door.

atlas coffee club top

PROS

  • Allows you to try different single-origin beans
  • Highly customizable subscription
  • Full learning experience

CONS

  • Their pre-ground option could be too fine for certain cold brew recipes

Some like to stick to the same coffee. Some others want to turn it into a full experience, allowing their taste buds to transport them to the farthest countries and learn the story behind each bag. If you’re the second type of coffee lover… buckle up, ’cause you’re in for a treat! 

One of our favorite coffee subscriptions of all time, Atlas offers you different single-origin coffee every month (or, if you opt for their 2-week delivery, every two shipments). They’ll also include a beautiful postcard from the country it’s from, tasting notes and brewing tips to fully appreciate its unique profile.

This subscription is entirely customizable: as well as the frequency, you can change the quantity, type of roast, and whether you want to receive it as whole beans or coffee grounds. What else could you ask for?

What's the Bottom Line?

This single-origin subscription method is the best way to enjoy cold brew coffee and turn it into a 360° experience, catering to your preferences and brewing habits.


2. Lifeboost Organic Light Roast - Best Light Roast

A lighter roast that you can rely on, directly from the shaded mountains of Nicaragua.

Lifeboost organic light roast coffee

PROS

  • High-elevation shade-grown
  • Organic and fair-trade
  • Customizable delivery, from once a week to once every 8

CONS

  • On the pricey side

This more acidic single-origin roast guarantees a superb and balanced cup of cold brew coffee, allowing you to appreciate all its nuances.

As the name suggests, Lifeboost is also 100% organic, healthy and sourced responsibly from fair trade farms that put a lot of care into its production. It consists of Arabica beans that have been shade-grown at high elevations and handpicked in Nicaragua, washed in spring water, sundried, and only roasted and packed when ordered. 

As well as choosing between beans or grounds, you can opt for a one-time purchase or a subscription. We know which one we’d go for!

What's the Bottom Line?

This organic light roast offers you a premium experience and a perfectly balanced cold brew.


3. Peet's Baridi Blend - Best Blend for Cold Brew

Meaning ‘cold’ in Swahili, it’s clear that this sweet and aromatic blend was specifically created with cold brews in mind.

peets coffee

PROS

  • Perfect for cold brew, but great for traditionally brewed coffee, too
  • Roasted to order
  • Available as both beans and grounds, and one-off orders or subscriptions

CONS

  • Not for those who’re after 100% single-origin beans

This is a handy compromise for any coffee lover who’s torn between blends and single-origin beans, as they’re all sourced from East Africa (specifically from Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania). 

Thanks to over 50 years of experience, Peet has created the ideal blend for cold brew: this fruity medium roast results in a robust, bold taste that leaves you with a pleasant clean finish. 

Even better? It’s always roasted to order. It can’t get any fresher than this.

What's the Bottom Line?

A freshly-roasted blend that brings you the very best of East African beans.


4. Volcanica Cold Brew Coffee - Best for Different Brewing Methods

A smoking hot and versatile blend that can work with several coffee makers.

himalayan coffee beans

PROS

  • Grown above 3,000 feet 
  • Available as whole beans or 3 different grind sizes
  • Great charity cause

CONS

  • Not available as a subscription

Imagine finding the blend of your dreams and not being able to use it for your other brewing methods! Heartbreaking, we know. Luckily, Volcanica Coffee solves this problem! 

While whole beans are always the most versatile option, they also allow you to choose among 3 grind sizes, from the coarsest one for cold brew and the finest one for espresso machines.

Their exotic gourmet coffee is grown at high altitudes, nourished by special volcanic soil, and roasted after each order. As if that weren’t cool enough, they also donate part of their sales to a charity that provides drinking water in developing countries.

What's the Bottom Line?

A versatile coffee from a picturesque setting and for a good cause.


Do you prefer indulging in the rich flavors of dark roasts? Make the most of your cold brew with this single-origin treat.

Stone Street Coffee Cold Brew Reserve Colombian Supremo Whole Bean Coffee - 1 lb. Bag - Dark Roast

PROS

  • A bold but balanced dark roast
  • Available as beans or coarse grounds
  • Really good value for money

CONS

  • Not available as a subscription

This dark roast is perfect for those who want the purest single-origin experience but prefer stronger flavors. While roasting in Brooklyn, this company keeps a close relationship with the Columbian farms from which they source these 100% Arabica beans. 

Their Cold Brew Reserve offers you a sweet, smooth and bold but surprisingly well-balanced coffee, and their pre-ground option is actually the right coarseness for most cold brew recipes. How convenient is that?!

What's the Bottom Line?

A mighty dark brew for those who want to enjoy single-origin beans but aren’t ready to commit to a subscription.


6. Cafe Du Monde Coffee Chicory - For the Strongest Flavors

Combine the nostalgic image of old coffee markets and the strength of chicory and you’ll get the unique Cafe Du Monde grounds.

Cafe Du Monde Coffee Chicory, 15-Ounce (Pack of 3)

PROS

  • The added chicory results in a stronger taste
  • It comes in beautiful vintage cans
  • Same coffee that’s served at the famous Cafe Du Monde

CONS

  • Not available as a subscription nor as whole beans

Delighting the customers of the New Orleans French Market since 1862, the iconic Cafe du Monde is a true mecca for coffee lovers. Why not bring its signature taste and tobacco-smoke aroma directly into your kitchen?
Thanks to the added chicory, these grounds result in a strong brew with a hint of nutty and chocolatey nuances. A one-of-a-kind experience that comes with a bittersweet nostalgic feel!

What's the Bottom Line?

Bold, strong flavors with a timeless backstory for those who’re after a pre-ground option that doesn’t involve subscriptions.


7. Tiny Footprint Coffee - Best for the Environment

If you’re an eco-conscious caffeine lover, you can’t go wrong with the world's first carbon-negative coffee.

Tiny Footprint Coffee - Organic Cold Brew Cold Press Elixir | Whole Bean Coffee | USDA Organic | Carbon Negative | 16 Ounce

PROS

  • Organic and shade-grown 
  • Blended for cold brew
    Great charity cause
  • Great charity cause

CONS

  • Not available as a subscription

What if your cup of coffee could do something good for the planet as well as saving your day? Well, Tiny Footprint is a coffee superhero: for every pound that they sell, they donate a portion of the proceeds to fund the reforestation of the Ecuadorian Mindo cloud forest.

While they offer different blends, this one is perfect for cold brews, resulting in a sweet and rich coffee. Did we mention that it’s 100% organic and shade-grown?

What's the Bottom Line?

A rich blend that’s perfect for cold brews… and the planet!


Things to Consider to Get Freezin’ Good Coffee for Cold Brews 

Not too familiar with cold brews? That’s cool. Here’s everything you need to know.

cold brew coffee beans

What is cold brew coffee?

Cold brew is coffee prepared over a longer period of time using cold water instead of the traditional almost-boiling temperatures. (1)

“While it’s often confused with iced coffee, the latter differs significantly as it’s made using hot, brewed espresso.” - Perfect Daily Grind

How does temperature affect coffee taste in cold brews?

Heat speeds up the extraction process, allowing you to unlock the flavors of the different soluble compounds found in coffee beans. While traditional coffee is brewed between 195 and 205°F (91-96°C) (2), cold brew methods rely on room-temperature water. 

Because it can’t extract the acids and compounds that are responsible for more bitter flavors nor dissolve some of the oils, cold brew coffee is less acidic. This results in a sweeter, more floral, smoother but robust coffee, without any hints of bitterness. Great news for those who usually don’t drink coffee because it upsets their stomach!

What is the difference between cold brew and cold drip?

Just like traditionally-brewed coffee, a cold brew can be obtained through either immersion or drip brewing. Immersion (often used as a synonym for ‘cold brewing’ in general) takes longer but is more practical: it can simply be achieved with equipment that you probably already own, such as mason jars or a French press. The grounds are left to steep for an average of 14-16 hours before being filtered. Much like hot French press coffee, this results in a bolder, more robust taste. 

Cold drip coffee is much quicker. It’s brewed by letting iced water drip through the grounds for around 3-5 hours, which means that you must invest in specific coffee makers, such as cold brew towers. This method will give you an even smoother, medium-body cup of joe, similar to the coffee brewed with manual pour overs

PRO TIP: Whether you’re opting for immersion or drip methods, set yourself up for success with the best cold brew coffee equipment.

Why a fine grind size isn’t… fine

Finer grinds speed up the extraction process (think of the fine grounds used for the quickest espresso shots!), whereas coarser ones help slow it down. If you consider the time needed for a cold brew, it only makes sense to go for a coarse grind for immersion methods or medium for cold drip. Finer grinds would result in bitter flavors due to over-extraction, and could even clog up the filter in cold drip methods. 

That’s why your average store-bought fine grounds won’t work for cold brewing! While buying beans and investing in a good burr grinder will give you the most flexibility, make sure you stick to coarse grinds if you’re after pre-ground coffee.

Single-origin or blends: what is the best coffee for cold brews?

Generally speaking, single-origin beans are the best coffee for cold brews. The long extraction process allows you to fully appreciate all their subtle notes, making the most of the uniqueness of single-origin beans. 

Blends are usually better suited for types of coffee and brewing methods that require you to compensate acidity with bitterness. However, there are also some blends that are specifically created for cold brews. Of course, we’ve included both!

Which roast is best for cold brew coffee?

We’ll be honest: it really depends on personal preference! Because cold brew coffee is less acidic, you could choose naturally more acidic lighter and medium roasts to strive for a more balanced result (keep in mind that they’ll require a longer extraction time). On the other hand, if you’d rather add to the richer, earthy and sometimes chocolatey flavor of cold brews, you should choose a darker roast.

Do you put milk and sugar in a cold brew? 

If you’ve invested in the best single-origin beans, it would be wiser to drink your cold brew coffee black so as not to spoil it and compromise its unique taste. However, if you’ve tried it and it just doesn’t work for you, nobody is stopping you from adding milk and sugar (3)

“The possibilities with cold brew coffee are endless. The concentrated cold brew contains a lot of flavors and mixes well with other ingredients.” -  Raj Jana, JavaPresse 

For the best results, start with three parts of cold brew coffee and one of milk.

Coffee for Cold Brew: Frequently Asked Questions

Have you been brewing up more questions while reading these reviews? Let’s go through them!

Q. Do you need special coffee for cold brew?

A. In general, we could say that you simply need coarser coffee for cold brews. However, some coffees (such as the ones that we’ve recommended) have been sourced or crafted with cold brew in mind, so they’re a safer bet for this unique brewing method.

Q. Is cold brew stronger than regular coffee?

A. Yes, cold brew is stronger than regular coffee because it uses a higher ratio (5:1 instead of the usual 15:1) and, consequently, contains more caffeine. However, it releases it more slowly, sparing you from an unpleasant caffeine crash.

Q. Can I use pre-ground coffee for cold brew?

A. Yes, you can use pre-ground coffee for cold brew, but you need to make sure that it’s coarse or, if you’re going for a cold drip, medium: your usual store-bought fine grounds won’t work.

Q. Is cold brew healthy?

A. Yes, cold brew coffee is very healthy! As well as the same benefits as normal coffee, it’s less acidic, which makes it a better choice for those who suffer from gastrointestinal conditions.

Q. Why is cold brew coffee so good?

A. Cold brew coffee is so good thanks to its lower acidity compared to traditionally-brewed coffee: it results in a much sweeter and smoother brew, making it easier to taste all the nuances of your precious beans.


References

  1. Grant, T. (2020, January 16). How Cold Brew Captured The Millennial Market. Retrieved from https://perfectdailygrind.com/2020/01/how-cold-brew-captured-the-millennial-market/
  2. Haare, J. (2017, August 21). Extraction Variables. Retrieved from https://www.freshcup.com/extraction-variables/
  3. Jana, R. (n.d.). The Ultimate Guide to Cold Brew Coffee. Retrieved from https://www.javapresse.com/blogs/cold-brew/the-ultimate-guide-to-cold-brew-coffee

Born in Italy but currently brewing from the UK, Giada is a highly-caffeinated coffee expert with a soft spot for espressos. She worked in cafés for years and has recently fallen in love with the practical Kalita Wave (just don’t tell her Italian moka pot!).

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