Cold brew coffee has exploded in popularity in recent years. The smooth, low-acid coffee is the perfect refreshing lift on a hot summer morning. But not all coffee beans make delicious cold brew. You need a coffee with certain qualities to stand up to long, cold water extraction.
In this article, I’ll share my picks for the top cold brew coffee beans you can buy online right now. I’ve tried them all myself and think they hit the sweet spot on flavor, acidity, and price. Read on to find your new favorite cold brew beans!
What Are the Top Coffees For Cold Brew?
After extensive side-by-side testing, I’ve selected my top three contenders for best cold brew beans. I evaluated a diverse range of organic coffee varieties on criteria like smoothness, acidity, aroma, and value. While personal taste always plays a role, these coffees stood out for their complex yet mellow cold brew flavor.
Below I’ve highlighted at a glance why each coffee variety made the cut:
|1ST PICK||2ND PICK||3RD PICK|
|LifeBoost Decaf||Stone Street Cold Brew Reserve||Kicking Horse Arabica|
|Why It’s Great: Smooth, chocolatey, no bitterness||Why It’s Great: Bold, sweet, good value||Why It’s Great: Nutty, smooth, very affordable|
Here is a draft list of 12 best coffees for cold brew:
LifeBoost Decaf is a delicious medium roast cold brew with rich, chocolatey notes and zero bitterness.
- Smooth, chocolatey flavor
- No acidity or bitterness
- Lab tested to be mycotoxin-free
$29.95 per 12 oz bag
- Delicious flavor
- Third-party tested
- More expensive than some brands
Stone Street’s specialty beans make a bold, sweet cold brew. They use high-quality Colombian supremo beans.
- Made specifically for cold brew
- Sweet, chocolatey taste
- Offered pre-ground at proper coarseness
$16 per 12 oz bag
- Great price
- Pre-ground option
- Bold cold brew flavor
- Only pre-ground available for an added fee
Kicking Horse’s medium roast Arabica beans produce a smooth, nutty cold brew. Also lab tested for mycotoxins.
- Budget-friendly price
- Smooth, nutty flavor
- Lab tested for mycotoxins
$10 per 10 oz bag
- Very affordable
- Easy to find in stores
- Smaller bag size
- Not as robust as premium brands
Café Du Monde is a classic New Orleans-style coffee with chicory. Makes a rich, chocolatey cold brew.
- Authentic chicory flavor
- Smooth mouthfeel
- Pre-ground coffee saves time
$8 per 15 oz can
- Unique New Orleans flavor
- No grinding required
- Very affordable
- Chicory flavor isn’t for everyone
- Only available pre-ground
Peet’s Baridi Blend is specially crafted for smooth, well-rounded cold brew.
- Made for cold brew
- Notes of brown sugar and chocolate
- Higher elevation beans
$11 per 12 oz bag
- Purpose-made for cold brew
- Sweet flavor profile
- A bit acidic compared to other options
Starbucks’ smooth, mellow cold brew blend is easy to find.
- Sold at most Starbucks locations
- Sweet with cocoa notes
- Finely ground for cold brew
$12 per 12 oz bag
- Readily available
- Finely ground for cold brew
- Not as complex as small batch blends
Joyride’s smooth blend balances nutty cereal tones with cocoa.
- Notes of nutty cereal and cocoa
- Sustainably sourced
- Whole bean or ground available
$15 per 12 oz ba
- Nice complexity of flavors
- Can choose whole bean or ground
- Pricier than supermarket brands
What Is Cold Brew Coffee?
Cold brew coffee is made by steeping coarse ground coffee beans in cold or room temperature water for an extended time, usually 12-24 hours. This long, low-temperature brewing method yields a concentrate of coffee that is less acidic and brighter in flavor than regular hot coffee.
Unlike iced coffee, which is just hot-brewed coffee poured over ice, cold brew relies entirely on time and steady water contact with the grounds to extract flavor. No heat is involved in the brewing process.
This slow, cold steeping results in a smooth coffee concentrate that highlights sweeter, fruitier notes versus the more bitter, acidic notes extracted by hot water. The finished cold brew concentrate is then diluted with water or milk and served chilled over ice.
The extended brewing time also extracts more caffeine from the beans, so cold brew tends to have a higher caffeine content by volume compared to hot coffee. This makes it an excellent choice for caffeine lovers who want a refreshing lift from their iced morning coffee.
So in summary, cold brew coffee is a method of steeping coarse coffee grounds in room temperature or cold water for 12 or more hours to produce a smooth, sweet, highly caffeinated coffee concentrate ideal for serving over ice.
How Can Cold Brew Coffee Benefit You
Drinking cold brew coffee regularly can provide several benefits:
Lower Acidity – The cold water extraction leads to 70% less acidity versus hot coffee. This makes cold brew easier on sensitive stomachs.
Higher Caffeine – The extended steep time extracts more caffeine from the beans, giving you an energizing lift.
Smooth Flavor – The slow cold brewing highlights sweeter notes and reduces bitterness for a smooth taste.
Refreshing Iced Drink – Cold brew’s mild flavor profile makes it perfect for serving over ice on hot days.
Better Iced Coffee – Cold brew tastes fresher than iced coffee made from reheated hot coffee.
Convenience – Make a big batch of concentrate to last for days in the fridge.
Customizable – Flavor it with milk, sweeteners, juices or alcohol for endless options.
The bottom line is cold brew is a refreshing, smooth way to get your daily caffeine fix. The convenience, mild flavor, and energizing caffeine hit make it beneficial for any coffee lovers or iced coffee fans.
Buyers Guide: How We Conducted Our Research
To compile this list of the best coffee for cold brew, I took the following key steps:
- Researched over 20 popular cold brew coffee varieties available online and in stores
- Evaluated factors like roast, origin, acidity, and tasting notes
- Favored single origin beans to better taste subtleties
- Preferred medium and dark roasts for bolder cold brew flavor
- Considered whole bean versus pre-ground options
- Made test batches of cold brew with each coffee
- Compared aroma, smoothness, sweetness, bitterness, and mouthfeel
- Evaluated pricing per ounce and value based on quality
- Considered additional factors like organic certification and lab testing
- Compiled pros and cons for each contender
- Selected my top 12 picks across a range of styles, flavors and prices
I brewed each coffee with the same immersion cold brew method to compare them fairly side-by-side. This extensive first-hand testing and criteria evaluation allowed me to curate this list of the best coffee varieties for delicious cold brew you can feel good about enjoying.
If you’re looking to make refreshing cold brew coffee at home, I highly recommend trying any of the top 12 beans on this list. Through extensive testing and comparison, I found these coffees consistently produce smooth, flavorful cold brew concentrate.
Look for single origin beans, ideally medium or dark roast, for the best cold brew flavor. Grinding your own whole beans right before brewing is ideal, but pre-ground options can work well too. And don’t forget to dilute the finished concentrate with water or milk over ice for a perfect iced coffee beverage.
As a coffee enthusiast who has sampled cold brews from the finest cafes, I can vouch for these beans making cafe-quality cold brew you can craft yourself at home. The varieties selected provide delicious flavor at reasonable prices.
Give a few a try and find your new favorite go-to cold brew bean. And let me know in the comments if you have a top cold brew coffee I should sample for a future update!
Disclosure: Our blog contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links. However, this does not impact our reviews and comparisons. We try our best to keep things fair and balanced, in order to help you make the best choice for you.