Buying Guides

The Best Coffee for Cold Brew: Grab a Bag and Get Brewing!

Coffee prepared using a cold brew method is smooth, sweet, and mellow. Best of all, it’s simple to make at home! We’ve made choosing the best coffee for your cold brew the easiest part of the process by rounding up a few of our favorites from Trade Coffee.

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Every day is a good day for coffee, but when the sun is beating down on you on a hot, mid-summer day, piping hot coffee is the last thing on your mind. That’s the perfect time to turn to an ice-cold glass of your favorite cold brew.

Cold brew is mild and smooth with less bitterness and lower acidity than hot brew coffee, and it’s the perfect way to bring out the most subtle flavors of a coffee bean.

At a Glance: The Best Coffee For Cold Brew

That said, not all beans are destined to create the perfect cold brew. With so many different roasts to choose from, it can be tricky for the novice home barista to select the best coffee beans for the cold brewing process.

Luckily for you, dear reader, we at Roasty Coffee are here to advise you on some of the very best beans to put in that cold brew maker, so keep reading!

The Best Coffee for Cold Brew

Quick Summary: The Best Coffee for Cold Brew

rc-table__imageLate Night from Methodical Coffee
  • Smooth, Rich Body And Deep Chocolaty Sweetness
  • Notes Of Roasted Walnut And Hints Of Clove
  • Comforting And Rich
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rc-table__imageBom Senso from Huckleberry
  • Medium-Dark Roast
  • Roastiness, Milk Chocolate, Nut
  • Cozy Roasted Almond Nuttiness
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rc-table__imageLinear from Blueprint
  • Light-Medium Roast
  • Milk Chocolate, Ripe Fruit, Brown Sugar
  • Versatility in Brewing Methods
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rc-table__imageMilk and Honey Blend from Feast
  • Milk Chocolate, Roastiness, Brown Sugar
  • Medium-Dark Roast
  • Indulgent Flavor Profile
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rc-table__imageShadow Play by Highwire
  • Nut, Brown Sugar, Milk Chocolate
  • Medium Roast
  • Sweet & Smooth
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What’s the Difference Between Cold Brew and Iced Coffee?

All chilled coffee lovers should know that not all types of coffee served over ice are created equal. No, cold brew and iced coffee are not the same. But what exactly sets the two apart?

There’s a difference in brewing methods when it comes to these two coffee beverages. Iced coffee is just regular joe from a drip coffee maker that’s been cooled down and served over ice.

Unlike iced coffee, cold brew is made without the use of any hot water. The cold brewing method requires coarse coffee grounds to steep in cold water for at least 12 hours. After, the grounds are filtered or strained out, and the coffee concentrate is served.

Not to blow your mind or anything, but cold brew doesn’t even have to be served cold! The “cold” in cold brew only refers to the brewing process, and you can enjoy this sweet, smooth beverage at any temperature- but more on that later!

The Best Coffee for Cold Brew

Smooth, delicious coffee with hints of sweetness? Count me in! But what kind of coffee is best for making cold brew?

While you can technically use any coarse-ground coffee to make cold brew, some will yield a better result than others. We’ve put together a list of a few of our favorite coffee beans for whipping up a cold brew, and they’re all available through Trade Coffee.

Trade Coffee

Trade Coffee Review

Trade Coffee connects local roasters with coffee drinkers across the country by searching out and tasting the best coffees throughout the US. They offer a list of over 450 selections curated by a Q Grader on their website, shipped directly from the roaster at peak freshness.

Thanks to the hard work the coffee pros at Trade Coffee have put in to select only the best of the best, they have plenty of high-quality coffee offerings that will satisfy your cold brew craving.

Late Night from Methodical Coffee

Late Night from Methodical Coffee
Late Night from Methodical Coffee
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This (caffeinated) cozy cup brings you all the comfort you need in your morning routine: a smooth, rich body and deep chocolaty sweetness envelop notes of roasted walnut and hints of clove.

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This bold roast from Greenville, SC roaster Methodical Coffee is a medium to dark roast that carries none of the bitterness often found in dark roast coffee. Instead, you’ll enjoy a rich, comforting brew with tasting notes of chocolate, nuts, and clove.

The cold brew process is perfectly suited for bringing out the smooth body and rich sweetness of this brew. Enjoy this coffee black or with cream and sugar- either way, it’s the perfect morning beverage!

Methodical Coffee’s gorgeous coffee bags were designed by a local artist with the goal of bringing the coffee shop experience into the home. We know that’s exactly how you’ll feel when you’re admiring the artwork and sipping on your smooth, chocolatey cold brew.

Bom Senso from Huckleberry

Huckleberry Bom Senso
Bom Senso from Huckleberry
Our rating:

With a big, chocolaty body, cozy roasted almond nuttiness and tons of balanced caramel sweetness, this Trade-exclusive cup is just about as comforting as you can get.

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Bom Senso, a Trade-exclusive roast from Huckleberry, offers a bold yet comforting flavor. Roasted to medium-dark to satisfy all you dark roast lovers out there, this coffee delivers a nutty, toasty, and chocolatey flavor.

The big, bold flavor of this roast is balanced by a caramel sweetness, and using a cold brew method just makes your cup that much sweeter and smoother.

So, heat up a big mug of this coffee (yes, you can enjoy your cold brew hot) for a comforting, nutty, and sweet morning beverage!

Linear from Blueprint

Linear from Blueprint
Linear from Blueprint
Our rating:

Loud cocoa and caramel notes make this blend perfect for cold brew, though all that sweetness would be welcome in a hot cup.

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If the roasters at Blueprint Coffee recommend it, it has to be good! Linear is the blend used in-house for cold brew batches by Blueprint Coffee’s roasters, and the rich, sweet flavor of this blend makes it perfect for the job.

This light-medium roast is ideal for coffee lovers who enjoy complex flavors in their brew. Caramel and cocoa notes are at the forefront, and you’ll also get hints of brown sugar and ripe fruit.

Already smooth and sweet, this roast and cold brew are a match made in heaven. It makes a perfect afternoon pick-me-up-served over ice.

Milk and Honey Blend from Feast

Milk and Honey Blend from Feast
Milk and Honey Blend from Feast
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With notes of bittersweet caramel, creamy milk chocolate, and a rich, roasty body – this luxurious blend lives up to its name.

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Not everyone is a black coffee purist, and that’s where Milk and Honey Blend from Feast comes into play. This blend is designed to be complemented by milk, so don’t hesitate to doctor up your cup!

This medium-dark roast has a rich body and is the most developed cup available from Feast. Despite its darker roast level, you’ll find no bitterness here- just a creamy, syrupy sweetness with caramel, brown sugar, and chocolate notes.

We recommend cold brewing this roast and enjoying it over ice with a dash of milk on a hot day or heating up your cold brew concentrate by adding hot water for a warm, comforting morning beverage.

Shadow Play by Highwire

Shadow Play by Highwire
Shadow Play by Highwire
Our rating:

Toasty nuttiness and sugary sweetness combine with a delectably smooth body and hints of roastiness to make this coffee downright slurpable.

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Toasty, sweet, and smooth, this medium roast blend from Highwire is a match made in heaven with the cold brewing process.

Mix this coffee, coarsely ground, with water in your favorite container and employ a little patience to bring out the notes of brown sugar and nutty toastiness.

Cold brewing this roast will also accentuate the already smooth body, leaving you with a coffee you’ll be happy to sip on.

Highwire Coffee Roasters are dedicated to the craft of roasting and to fostering the next generation of roasters, so you can count on beautifully roasted beans with plenty of attention to detail.

Access to craft roasters like this is exactly what Trade Coffee is all about, and we’re here for it!

What Gives Cold Brew Its Distinctive Flavor?

The absence of heat in the brewing process gives cold brew its unique flavor and character. However, cold brew is more expensive to make than traditional hot brew coffee because it requires twice the amount of grounds.

The flavors in cold brew tend to be muted because the acids and other solubles in coffee are only derived when the beans are exposed to higher temperatures. That makes cold brew coffee easier on the stomach, although the flavor can be too bland for some palates.

How Does the Brewing Method Influence Flavor?

There are different methods for creating cold brew, and the method you use will affect the type of bean you choose.

The immersion method of brewing involves steeping the ground beans in cold water for 12 to 24 hours before filtering them.

The slow drip process involves slowly dripping iced water onto the grounds and collecting the resulting brew in a carafe below. This method is the quicker of the two, although it still takes up to five hours to make one cup of cold brew.

When it comes to flavor, the immersion method of brewing yields a more full-bodied, concentrated drink than the medium-bodied brew produced by the slow drip process.

This is the preferred method of most home brewers, as you can use a variety of tools, from a French press to a mason jar.

How Does Espresso Compare to Cold Brew?

Contrary to popular belief, a shot of espresso is not the most caffeinated coffee drink on the market today.

The standard espresso serving size is a single shot, or about an ounce, containing an average of 60 milligrams of caffeine.

Sixteen ounces of cold brew, which is probably the size of the largest serving at your local coffee shop, contains about 200 milligrams of caffeine. That makes the cold brew more caffeinated by serving, though not by volume.

Which Coffee Roast Makes the Best Cold Brew?

This question tends to divide coffee lovers everywhere because, technically, you can use light, medium, or dark roast coffee to make a cup of cold brew.

However, when you pull out your cold brew maker, we recommend using a bag of medium or dark-roasted beans to get the job done.

Darker roasts tend to boast a richer flavor full of spicy and chocolatey notes, which will come out beautifully when prepared using a cold brew process.

Should I Choose Single-Origin or a Blend?

Single-origin coffee versus coffee blends are a personal taste preference, and either one will work just fine for cold brew. If you prefer a more well-rounded and balanced cup, you might prefer a blend, while a single-origin tends to have more unique flavors.

To best bring out the subtle notes and complex flavors in your single-origin coffee, opt for the cold-drip method of cold brewing.

The Grind: Size Does Matter!

Whether you’re buying pre-ground beans for cold brewing or pulling out your trusty coffee grinder and a bag of whole beans, you should know that grind size does matter.

If the grind is too fine, the flavors of the finished brew will be bitter and harsher because of over-extraction.

Therefore, your grind should be coarse for cold brewing. Also, if you’re using the slow drip method of cold brewing, a coarse grind will allow for a quicker flow, whereas a fine grind is too dense, restricting the flow of the water.

If you order one of our recommendations from above or any other coffee from Trade Coffee, you can select “ground for cold brew” when you check out. That’s just one more reason to choose one of our picks!

Pre-Ground or Whole Bean: Which Should I Use For Cold Brew?

This is a common question, and the truth of the matter is, you can enjoy cold brew coffee with any grounds you can get your hands on!

That being said, coffee that you grind fresh yourself always tastes better- it’s just science.

Coffee gets its flavor from volatile compounds that are created during roasting, and these compounds start to dissipate from the minute your beans finish their roast. Once the beans are ground, the clock really starts to move quickly.

Fresher coffee, freshly ground will always result in the best flavor, but we understand that not everyone has a grinder on hand and not every coffee lover is ready to invest in extra gear.

That’s okay! We have a couple of tips to consider if you do choose to go the pre-ground route.

Avoid espresso. Phrases like “extra fine grind” or “espresso blend” should be huge red flags when selecting coffee for your cold brew.

Look for a coarse grind. There will be bags of pre-ground coffee specifically labeled as a “coarse grind,” and those are perfect for making cold brews.

Check the dates! The biggest reason people go for whole coffee beans is for the sake of freshness. Make sure to look for the roast date and other freshness indicators on your pre-ground coffee beans to ensure that you get the best results.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you make cold brew hot?

It sounds counterintuitive, but yes, you can absolutely enjoy your cold brew as a hot beverage! The “cold” in cold brew refers to the temperature of water used in the brewing process, and it leads to a smoother, sweeter cup.

Cold brew tastes great over ice, but by using hot water instead of cold water to dilute your concentrate, you can bring the qualities of a cold brew to your hot morning cup of java as well.

Can you use whole coffee beans for cold brew?

Your beans need to be broken down for proper extraction, so be sure to grind your coffee. No access to a grinder? Get creative with some of these alternatives!

Is cold brew coffee healthier?

Cold brew coffee is on equal footing with hot coffee in terms of health, but some may find it easier to consume since it’s less acidic. The smoother, sweeter flavor of this brew may also make coffee drinkers less likely to add cream and sugar.

Wrapping It Up

Cold brew is one more amazing way to enjoy your coffee, whether you serve it over ice or heat it up for a smoother and sweeter morning cup of joe.

Keep in mind that darker roasts and a coarse grind will hook you up with the best results. Choose one of our favorite craft roasts from Trade Coffee and get brewing!

Happy Caffeinating!

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