Unlike 65 percent of Americans, I’ve never been a coffee drinker. Black coffee is the worst unless it’s loaded with sugar, cream, and other flavorings. At that point, I figured, why not just have an energy drink and split the difference?
Then, everything changed when my friend introduced me to cold brew coffee. I’m the type to try anything once, and it was a game-changer. Hot coffee has always left a bad taste in my mouth, but this cold brew was smoother and much easier to drink.
Was I about to become a coffee fiend? Yes, the answer is yes.
Since that fateful day, I’ve been drinking cold brew coffee regularly. However, I discovered that the secret is in the beans. So, I decided to share my findings with the world.
How Does Cold Brew Coffee Work?
There is some confusion about cold brew beverages, mainly because there are multiple versions of “cold” coffee. The three primary options are cold brew, cold drip, and iced coffee. Here is a brief comparison.
- Iced Coffee – You take hot coffee, let it cool down to room temperature, and then pour over ice.
- Cold Drip – This method requires a unique setup that allows the hot coffee to drip over ice cubes. The result is a bit smoother but not quite at cold brew levels. It can also take a while to complete the process.
- Cold brew – In this instance, you never heat the coffee. Instead, you steep the grounds in room temperature water, ideally overnight. Then, you strain the grounds, unless you like pulpy coffee.
So, cold brew is not for the impatient or those who don’t like to plan ahead. However, the results are spectacular, so it’s often worth the wait.
How to Compare Different Coffee Beans for Cold Brew
As I mentioned, the real secret to making a tasty cup of coffee is the beans. I used to think that a coffee bean was a coffee bean, but boy was I wrong. Here are some guidelines on how to pick the right blend for your taste buds:
- Roast – There are three options: light, medium, and dark roast. Lighter roasts have more acidity and retain more of the bean’s flavor. As you go darker, however, the elements of the roasting process take over, creating a richer profile.
- Whole vs. ground – Technically, whole beans are better since you don’t lose any flavor. However, they can be more expensive and require a coffee grinder. Ground beans are ideal if you’re lazy like me and prefer to do less work.
- Origin – If you’re a coffee snob, you know that bean flavor changes based on where it’s grown. So, you can do some research to find the regions with the best beans.
You’ll love our round-up of the best cold brew coffee brands.
The Best Coffee Grounds for Cold Brew
Since “best” is a subjective term, particularly for coffee, I went based on customer reviews. So, all the beans listed are highly recommended with tons of reviews. I also chose a mix of roasts so you can pick based on your preference.
1. Bizzy Organic Cold Brew Coffee
With over 6,000 reviews, this is by far the most-rated cold brew coffee on Amazon. You can choose the roast style you like, from the fruity light and bright roast to the rich dark, and bold version.
I’ve noticed when shopping for coffee grounds that those that are designed for cold brew have the best results. Sure, you can use regular grounds, but why put yourself in that position?
Part of the reason “cold brew” grounds are better is that they are coarse, not fine. Coarser beans release more flavor, so you get a better cup of coffee.
Bizzy grounds are 100 percent organic (common with cold brews) and sourced from Guatemala, Peru, and Nicaragua. Each bag is one pound.
2. Stone Street Coffee Cold Brew Reserve
Although I’m showcasing ground coffee for cold brew, Stone Street does have a whole bean variety if you prefer to do the work yourself. Best of all, when buying through Amazon, the price is the same for both options.
Stone Street has almost 6,000 reviews, so it comes with plenty of recommendations. This particular blend is a dark roast sourced from Columbia.
The company also highlights its triple-layered resealable bag, which keeps your beans extra fresh. You can buy one, three, or five-pound increments.
Formulated to make a bold, balanced, low-acid, slightly sweet cold brew or iced coffee. You can easily adjust the strength to make it extra strong (more coffee or longer brewing time) or even lighter (more water).
3. Tiny Footprint Coffee – Organic Cold Brew
If you like the idea of having a lower carbon footprint, you will appreciate this medium-roast blend from Tiny Footprint Coffee. The company donates to an Ecuadorian cloud rainforest with every bag sold, so you help the environment while getting a tasty beverage.
These grounds are 100 percent organic, but the company doesn’t list where they are sourced. Presumably, if Tiny Footprint is donating to Ecuador, it is getting its beans from there as well. To complete your hipster bingo card, know that the beans are roasted in a vintage German Probat drum roaster.
- USDA Organic Cold Brew & Press Elixir
- Ground Coffee
- Carbon Negative
- 16 Ounce
4. Cold Brew Lab Organic Coarse Ground Coffee
With a name like Cold Brew Lab, I imagine teams of scientists perfecting their beans and grinding process to deliver the best cup of coffee. Realistically, though, the company uses the same methods as everyone else to create this extra coarse dark roast.
Because it’s extra coarse, this blend is as close to having whole beans without needing to grind them. Cold Brew Lab does blend medium and dark-roasted beans for a smooth, delicate finish.
These beans are sourced from Columbia and certified 100 percent organic. You can choose between a one or two-pound bag.
5. Stone Cold Jo: Cold Brew Coffee Blend
For the coffee snobs out there, Stone Cold Jo delivers specialty-grade, ethically sourced, artisan coffee. The company highlights that all of its beans are roasted by artisan craftsmen in a micro-roastery, so you get attention to detail missing from other brands. Stone Cold Jo sources from multiple regions, so each blend can be different.
These beans are 100 percent organic, fair trade, and even kosher. The company also offers a satisfaction guarantee so that you can buy a bag with confidence. This particular blend is a dark roast with hints of toffee, chocolate, and caramel. You can buy a 12-ounce or two-pound bag.
The Final Word on the Best Coffee Grounds for Cold Brew
Because there are so many variables, choosing the best coarse coffee grounds for cold brew can be a trial-and-error process. However, once you know your roast preferences, you can compare a few different brands to see which one delivers the right flavor profile.
These products are perfectly designed for cold brewing but don’t forget to use the proper water and steeping process. See you in the (virtual) coffee aisle!