Best Coffee to Buy to Make Cold Brew at Home

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Trying to figure out which coffee to get to make cold brew at home? See my top coffee picks and tips to make the best cold brew.

Three coffee bags.

Cold Brew Coffee

Cold brew uses cold water to extract flavor from ground coffee. When you use cold water to brew, you extract some, but not all of the compounds in a coffee. Some of the bitter notes are left behind and the acids aren’t as prominent, making the drink smooth, syrupy, and rich.

Because the water is cold, the process to make cold brew takes much longer. The coffee is steeped in water, which means the water and coffee are in constant contact. To properly cold brew, it can take 12-24 hours in the refrigerator.

See my step-by-step guide and see how easy it is to make cold brew at home.

Barista’s Tip: Use the best quality water to make cold brew at home since it will definitely make it taste better. Don’t use distilled water for brewing coffee.

My Pick for Best Coffee to Make Cold Brew

Allegro French Roast
I don’t like to get the most expensive coffee to make cold brew since even just good coffee tastes great when cold brewed. Allegro is Whole Foods’s brand of coffee and the price is just right for the quality since I go through so much of it.

What to Look for When Buying Coffee for Cold Brew

  • Price
    To make cold brew, I use a cup of whole coffee beans to make 4-5 cups so when I get a 12 oz bag, I’m using 2/3 of the bag. Since I’m going through so much of it to make one batch which will last four days, I’m hyper aware of the price. Look to spend around $10 for a 12 oz bag of coffee but don’t go over $14 since I don’t think the cost is worth it. If you have a Trader Joe’s near you, they have affordable (yet good quality) whole coffee beans for around $8.
    See how I make foolproof cold brew.
  • Quality
    Cold brew is magic in that it can make just ok coffee taste good. The cold brew process smooths out any harsh or bitter flavors so it’s the most forgiving in that you can take bad coffee and still make it drinkable. Go for good quality coffee that’ll taste great cold brewed. You can certainly use high-quality coffee but it’s a bit of a splurge.
  • Roast
    Cold brew can be made with light, medium, or dark roasted coffee but medium and dark roasted are the most popular. Save light roasted coffee for drip or espresso, where the fruity, floral, and bright flavors can be appreciated. Cold brew tends to mask more delicate flavors, so going with a darker roasted coffee will ensure that the flavors of the coffee can stand out. 
  • Whole beans
    Freshly ground beans taste so much better than pre-ground coffee. If you can, buy whole beans and grind it at home, right before you cold brew. You want a very coarse grind for cold brew, similar to the grind setting for a French press. See my coffee grinder picks.

BARISTA’S TIP: Cold brew coffee lends itself well to customization and experimentation. If you like a really heavy drink, steep your coffee for longer. If you like something lighter and fruiter, try a medium roasted coffee. The possibilities are endless! 

Other Recommended Coffees for Cold Brew

Peet’s Brazil Minas Naturais

Photo Credit: Linked source

The flavors of chocolate and brown sugar should be the most prominent with coffees from South and Central America. This is a great choice for someone who is new to cold brew. This medium roast will still have some of the liveliness of drip coffee while balancing the smoother, richer flavors of cold brew.
Stumptown’s Hair Bender
For those ready to make a cold brew as good as their local coffee shop, Stumptown’s Hair Bender is the way to go. Hairbender is a seasonal blend of coffees, so while the exact beans in the blend change, the flavor profile stays consistent. This means that this blend is both available year-round while cycling through the freshest available coffees. *Yes, this coffee would be a splurge.*
Cold Brew Lab Organic Whole Bean Coffee
Cold Brew Lab roasts and blends coffee specifically for cold brew. They use 100% Colombian coffee and a mix of medium and dark roasts to pull out both smoky and bright flavors.
Cafe Du Monde
If you’ve ever enjoyed a “New Orleans” style drink, it’s likely that chicory has been added. Chicory and cold brew pair well together and this coffee from Cafe Du Monde. Originally added to coffee as a way to stretch valuable coffee grounds during World War II, some brands continue to embrace the flavor of chicory. This comes pre-ground.

Expert Tips

  • Have a medium or dark roast that you love drinking hot? Try it cold brewed!
  • If you want to make cold brew like your local coffee shop, use a medium or dark roast, which are the most popular to cold brew.
  • Cold brew is incredibly forgiving. You can play with the ratio of coffee to water when brewing and adjust the amount of water added to your final beverage.  
  • A burr grinder is helpful when grinding for cold brew. Burr grinders will grind your coffee evenly.
  • Sip cold brew slowly! Although hard to predict, most cold brew has more caffeine than an equivalent sized hot coffee. A 16 ounce Starbucks cold brew has 200 mg of caffeine! 

Questions You May Have

Why is cold brew more caffeinated? 

Although the caffeine content is hard to predict, most coffee shops use more ground to make a 16 oz cold brew, for example, than a 16 ounce hot coffee. More coffee equals more caffeine. 

Why is cold brew more expensive? 

Two reasons: one, most coffee shops use more coffee for cold brew. Two, cold brew requires more labor. Cold brew is not simply brewed on the spot—you must wait between 12-24 hours before it’s ready to drink. 

Is cold brew or iced coffee better for you?

Although there haven’t been definitive studies on the health benefits of cold brew or iced coffee, cold brew has fewer acidic compounds. For those that have sensitive stomachs, cold brew can be gentler on the digestive system. 

How much caffeine is in a 12 oz cold brew?

It’s hard to say precisely—all coffee shops brew their cold brew differently, but a 12 oz cold brew will almost certainly have more caffeine than a 12 oz drip coffee. This study found that a 12 oz cup of cold brew can vary in caffeine content between 153 and 238 milligrams of caffeine per cup. 

Can I make cold brew with decaf? 

Yes! You can make cold brew coffee—and enjoy its smooth, rich flavor—with decaf coffee. You don’t have to change anything about your brewing technique to do so. 


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