coffee beans

Best Coffee Beans for Cold Brew

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By Matt Woodburn-Simmonds

When the temperatures rise and the sun shines down on you, there’s only one sensible solution to cool you down: a refreshing, super easy cold brew coffee.

The best coffee beans for cold brew are the Biotics Cold Brew by Lifeboost coffee. From a farm in Nicaragua, these beans have low acidity and rich, sweet flavors that lend themselves perfectly to cold brewing.

Not everyone loves the same beans though. We’ve been cold brewing like crazy to get the best options for you to try.

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Best Overall

Bag of biotics cold brew coffee beans by Lifeboost on table whilst pouring fresh batch of coffee

Lifeboost – Biotics Cold Brew

Single origin, organic, low acidity, perfectly roasted. That’s a whole lot to love.

Lifeboost Biotics Cold Brew makes a delicious cup of coffee that looks after your health and your taste buds.

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Best Cold Brew Coffee Beans Reviews

Lifeboost Biotics Cold Brew Coffee Beans

Lifeboost Biotics Cold Brew - Whole Bean or Ground Coffee

What to Expect from Lifeboost Biotics Cold Brew Coffee Beans:

Source: Nicaragua

Roast: Medium

Aroma: Intense, slightly sweet

Tasting notes: Chocolate and caramel, with a slight fruitiness

Important notes: High-elevation shade-grown, single-origin organic cold brew coffee beans

Lifeboost is an ambitious coffee brand with a focus on health and low-acidity coffee beans.

Their Nicaraguan beans are sourced from a single, family-owned farm on Mt. Kilambé. The high altitude (5,700 ft) gives the coffee beans a moderate body with a bright fruity flavor. You will find both caramel and chocolate notes.

The focus of the brand is on organic, shade-grown coffee. Plus, all their beans are tested for toxins and pesticides by a third party to ensure the coffee you buy is as good for you as possible.

Healthy coffee beans are the prime focus of Lifeboost so you can expect low acidity levels. This is particularly good for anyone who has indigestion or acid reflux. Their coffees all have a pH of 6 or higher, making them ideal for anyone with sensitive stomachs.

Their Biotics Cold Brew beans have strong chocolate and caramel notes. There are little hints of fruit and nuts but we loved the richer flavors. We think this flavor profile works great black, or add a little milk and get that rich caramel notes to really stand out.

To learn more about Lifeboost Coffee, including reviews of all their coffees, jump over to this article. 

Tiny Footprint Coffee Cold Brew Elixir

What to Expect from Tiny Footprint Coffee Cold Brew Elixir:

Source: Blend

Roast: Light and Dark

Aroma: Floral and fruity

Tasting notes: Rich cocoa body with zippy fruit

Important notes: Tiny Footprint is the world’s first carbon-negative coffee company. This option is a specially crafted cold brew coffee bean blend

Tiny Footprint Coffee is a small US roastery focusing on two things in equal measure: great coffee beans and sustainability in the coffee supply chain.

By drinking their coffee, you can make an impact in the world through something you already love to do – enjoying a great cup of joe.

For every pound of coffee sold, Tiny Footprint offsets its carbon by funding reforestation in Ecuador’s Mindo cloud forest. Thanks to the extra trees planted, the net effect is 50lbs of CO2 removed from the atmosphere, making them the first carbon-negative coffee company.

Aside from this amazing policy, they also work closely with coffee farmers. This ensures that their supply chain is 100% focused on paying everyone a fair price for their labor.

Their Cold Brew Elixir is a blend of light and dark roast beans, including some top-quality Ethiopian beans. It has been created explicitly for cold coffee brewing.

This is a great choice for those who prefer a lighter, and fruitier style of coffee. The light roast Ethiopian beans really add berry notes that we love. We’re still tasting a classic cold brew style with chocolate and brown sugar, but we love that fruity and floral overtone.

Stone Street Coffee Cold Brew Reserve

What to Expect from Stone Street Cold Brew Coffee Beans:

Source: Colombia

Roast: Dark

Aroma: Sweet and fruity cream

Tasting notes: Rich and smooth with light fruit notes

Important notes: Focus on freshness. The special grind for cold brew means you still get great quality if you prefer coffee grounds

The fan favorite out of all the best cold brew coffee brands: Stone Street Coffee.

It’s easy to see why this small US roastery, based in New York is so beloved:

They small batch roast the beans in their Brooklyn, focusing on the freshest quality.

Whilst they offer a range of flavored coffee beans for cold brew, you can’t beat the classic dark roast flavor of their regular Cold Brew. The premium Arabica single-origin Colombian Supremo beans are dark roasted to perfection.

The flavor of these beans is more of a dark chocolate with hints of dried fruit. Whilst not our favorite style, for those who love things with a touch more bitterness, this is ideal. We’re not going to downgrade them based on our preferences. This is perfect for many a cold brew drinker.

Café du Monde Coffee with Chicory

What to Expect from Café du Monde Coffee with Chicory:

Source: Blend

Roast: Dark

Aroma: Rich and nutty

Tasting notes: Chicory adds a dry fruit sweet/ sourness and a slight cedar finish

Important notes: Café du Monde is a New Orleans institution. Whilst Chicory Coffee won’t be for everyone, it makes a nice change from the traditional cold brew coffee brands

Café du Monde is a legendary institution in New Orleans serving the heavenly combo of coffee and beignets. Operating since 1862, their signature Chicory Coffee is hands down one of the best cold brew coffee grounds options.

The practice of adding chicory root – the root of a special type of endive – to coffee was started in the Civil War era when coffee supplies ran short. The taste is distinctive and the chicory helps to cut the bitterness of the coffee nicely.

The distinctive sweet and smoky flavor isn’t for everyone.

But in cold brew, the reduction in bitterness makes the coffee feel sweeter and smoother. We preferred to add milk as it helped balance the flavors for us. Maybe a good one for anyone who normally adds milk/creamer to their cold brew.

Volcanica Cold Brew Blend

What to Expect from Volcanica Cold Brew Coffee Beans:

Source: Blend

Roast: Medium

Aroma: Nuts and dried fruits

Tasting notes: Sweet chocolate, cherry, and toasted nuts

Important notes: Rich, robust flavors thanks to the use of volcanic soil to grow all of Volcanica’s premium coffee beans

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With a name like ‘Volcanica’ it probably won’t shock you to learn that they use coffee beans grown in volcanic soil around the world. Why focus on volcanic soil only? Well, it is highly sought after by farmers not just for coffee, but also for everything from grapes to tomatoes due to its rich, diverse nutrient profile. This abundance of exciting nutrients and minerals can add extra complexity to the flavor of the final product. 

Using organically grown beans, Volcanica has put together this blend of rich, bold Sumatran coffee beans. The use of lighter, more delicately flavored, and acidic Arabica beans gives a well-balanced cold brew when paired with the deep chocolate notes from the Sumatran beans. 

Crafted with cold brewing in mind, make sure you get the “French press grind” option if you’re not buying whole beans. They recommend using 1 cup of coffee to 4 cups of cold water in a French press, brew for 12 hours, and then plunge. It’s as simple as that.

The earthy and spicy notes of the Sumatran beans give this cold brew a really unique style. If you’re not a fan of Indian monsoon coffee or Sumatran beans it may be a little too intense for you. One we really like as an occasional cold brew. But maybe not our go-to, everyday one.

Real Good Coffee Co. Breakfast Blend

What to Expect from Real Good Coffee Company Breakfast Blend:

Source: Central and South America

Roast: Light

Aroma: Citrus with hints of mint chocolate

Tasting notes: Bright fresh fruit with undertones of creamy chocolate

Important notes: All packaging is 100% recyclable (including their coffee pods). Considerably cheaper than most specialist roasters

If you are after whole coffee beans for cold brew, the Read Good Coffee Company has your back.

They are a small coffee roaster based in Seattle, with a focus on sustainability. All of their beans are ethically sourced and their packaging is 100% recyclable.

Their Breakfast Blend is a light roast coffee, making it fruitier and more delicate than many of the other options we’ve chosen. But, it makes an excellent cold brew with a more fruit and floral-based profile.

That said, because it is a light roast, it will need longer to steep. We recommend giving your grounds at least 20 hours for the best results.

A delicate style that is almost “tea-like.” We feel it really needs to be enjoyed black and maybe with less dilution than some of the dark roast options. I love light, fruity, and floral coffee so I was a big fan of this.

Coffee Bros Cold Brew Blend

What to Expect from Coffee Bros Cold Brew Blend:

Source: Brazil and Ethiopia

Roast: Medium

Aroma: Berries and brown sugar

Tasting notes: Caramelized sugar and sweet dark berries with chocolate undertones

Important notes: 1% of all revenue used to plant trees

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Founded by two brothers, Coffee Bros. focuses on ethically sourced, micro-lots of coffee beans. They follow the process from farmer to roaster to ensure sustainability in all parts of the supply chain.

When importing the beans, they are kept in GrainPro bags. This completely seals them, ensuring they don’t pick up anything like odors, moisture, or mold which could be detrimental to the flavor. Their commitment and passion for their coffee beans is abundantly clear.

Roasting takes place in small batches to ensure everything gets their full attention. You can taste this attention too, through the perfect roast and fresh quality.

Their Cold Brew Blend combines naturally processed coffee beans from Brazil and Ethiopia. The result is a naturally sweet, smooth brew with flavors of chocolate, dark berries, and caramel.

A classic cold brew style. The sweeter berry notes were really prominent and balanced the bitterness nicely. A touch of milk/creamer/sugar and this one really sings with layers of delicious chocolate, caramel, and fruit flavors.

And, if you’re still not convinced that they are all-around good guys – Coffee Bros partner with One Tree Planted to donate 1% of all revenue towards planting trees.

Stone Cold Jo, Jo Coffee

What to Expect from Stone Cold Jo:

Source: Blend

Roast: Dark

Aroma: Chocolate and grape

Tasting notes: Silky smooth with toffee, caramel, and dried fruits

Important notes: Available in coarse ground or whole bean. It is USDA certified organic, kosher, fair trade certified, and non-GMO

If you’re looking for top-quality specialist coffee on Amazon, Jo Coffee is your answer. They launched to allow shoppers to access great coffee without having to search around for a local roaster who could deliver to their area.

Plus, they tick just about every box when it comes to ethical coffee. They are fair trade certified, USDA certified organic, non-GMO, and Kosher certified.

But behind the labels is great quality. They offer a wide range of whole coffee beans and ground coffee to suit every taste. And their Stone Cold Jo is one of the best coffee beans for cold brew.

This has a classic style of bitter chocolate, caramelized sugar, and dried fruit. The lower acidity really shows the sharp contrast of sweet to bitter in the blend. We thought that this was really nicely balanced that also tasted great with a splash of milk.

Java Planet – Guatemala Organic

What to Expect from Java Planet – Guatemala Organic:

Source: Guatemala

Roast: Medium

Aroma: Citrus fruit and caramel

Tasting notes: Rich smooth milky chocolate with hints of tropical fruits

Important notes: Holds the lesser-known accreditation “bird-friendly” from the Smithsonian. This is probably the best way to guarantee environmental protection and farmers’ rights

Java Planet Organic Coffee Roasters has an extensive range of single-origin beans to choose from. And they have a big commitment to sustainability and fair wages in their supply chain.

As a married couple themselves, all of their coffee is grown on family-owned farms that are USDA organic certified. Not stopping at one environmental commitment, their coffees are also Fair Trade, Bird Friendly and/or Rain Forest Alliance certified.

Their medium-roast Guatemalan coffee beans are low in acid so they work beautifully in cold brew. We found that the fruity notes complemented the rich mouthfeel and heftier undertones of the roast. We love the coffee from Guatemala and this one really shows the awesome complexity found in beans grown there.

Hugo Roasters Dog Daze

What to Expect from Hugo Roasters Dog Daze:

Source: Central Africa

Roast: Dark

Aroma: Sweet spice and chocolate

Tasting notes: Spicy, nutty, full-bodied, and incredibly smooth

Important notes: Named after founder and CEO Claudia McMullin’s rescue dog, Hugo

Drink coffee, save dogs.

Pretty much the best deal you can ask for in our opinion.

Hugo Roasters donates a percentage of proceeds to help rescue dogs by paying for vet bills and finding them homes.

Their Dog Daze is another cold brew coffee bag option making them amongst the best coffee grounds for cold brew.

The filter bags are an easy, no-mess solution to making cold brew. You don’t quite get the depth of flavor that you get with fresh ground, but they work well. You get the chocolate and nut flavors with a little background of sweet spice. We prefer fresh ground but appreciate that not everyone has a grinder or wants to pay for one.

What you get is a rich, smooth, and delicious cup of coffee that you can even make whilst camping. And did we mention you help save dogs?

Koffee Kult Dark Roast

What to Expect from Koffee Kult Dark Roast:

Source: Colombia, Guatemala, Sumatra

Roast: Dark

Aroma: Smoky, cinnamon

Tasting notes: Rich, powerful cocoa notes with a smooth fruit-driven finish

Important notes: Resealable packaging to preserve flavor and freshness.
As well as their famous blends, Koffee Kult likes to showcase micro-lot coffee from some of their best farmers

Bold and unapologetically so, Koffee Kult’s dark roast is a punch in the face of aroma and rich roasty flavor.

Working closely with their farmers, they have grown quickly since launching in 2010. At the time, their founder got bored of drinking average coffee and decided to start roasting his own. And we’re glad he did!

The Dark Roast is 100% arabica beans sourced from Colombia, Sumatra, and Guatemala. The dark roast is timed beautifully to reduce the oiliness of the beans. Your grinder will thank you.

These are great all-rounders. If you don’t want specific beans for your cold brew then this could be the best choice.

The bold, earthy, and spicy flavors that come through in an espresso are slightly mellowed when you use them for cold brew. The style is a little too intense for Katie without adding milk. But I enjoy getting a good punch upfront with the delicate notes on the finish.

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Best Cold Brew Comparison Table

Image Product Details
Lifeboost Nicaraguan Biotics Cold Brew
  • 100% organic, shade-grown
  • Low acid
  • Whole beans or ground coffee
Tiny Footprint Coffee Cold Brew Elixir
  • Carbon negative company
  • Pays fair wages
  • Created for cold brew
  • Ground or whole bean
Stone Street Cold Brew Reserve
  • Favorite of cold brew veterans
  • Creates a crisp, classic cold brew
  • Ground or whole bean
Café du Monde Coffee and Chicory
  • Distinctive flavor
  • Great brewed hot or cold
  • Very smooth and low bitterness
  • Ground coffee only
Volcanica Cold Brew Blend
  • Grown in volcanic soil giving a rich, robust flavor
  • Ground or whole bean coffee
Real Good Coffee Co. Breakfast Blend
  • 100% recyclable packaging
  • Light roast, citrus fruit flavors
  • Whole beans only
Coffee Bros Cold Brew Blend
  • 1% revenue used to plant trees
  • 100% Arabica beans
  • Whole bean only
Stone Cold Jo, Jo Coffee
  • Sources top 2% of Arabica beans
  • Great brewed hot or cold
  • Ground or whole beans
Java Planet – Guatemala Organic
  • Smithsonian bird-friendly certified
  • Fair Trade, USDA organic
  • Single-origin Guatemalan beans
  • Ground or whole beans
Hugo Roasters Dog Daze
  • Pre-ground coffee pouches
  • Every bag sold supports rescue dogs
Koffee Kult Dark Roast
  • Big, bold flavors
  • Ground coffee or whole beans

Now your cold brew is sorted, do you want our recommendations for other brewing methods too? Check out these guides:

Best Coffee for French Press | What is the Best Coffee for Chemex? | Espresso Beans Chosen By 12 Coffee Experts

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Does the Roast Matter?

Cold brewing extracts flavors differently from hot brewed coffee. So, when you cold brew your coffee you might find you prefer a different roast to your pour over, drip, or espresso.

The light, bright citrusy notes from a light roast coffee tend to be muted in cold brews as the brewing method produces a much lower acidity. Light roast beans have a very light, delicate flavor which may be a bit too delicate – even for those who really enjoy a light roast hot coffee.

Whereas when using darker roasted coffee, cold brewing brings out the rich, chocolatey notes.

This is why many feel medium and dark roast is best for cold brewing.

In addition to the extraction of the rich warm flavors of dark roast coffee, it also tones down the bitter elements. The end result is a very rich and smooth coffee.

Read Next: Ultimate Guide to Coffee Roasts

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What Kind of Grind is Best for Cold Brew?

Grind matters for all kinds of coffee brewing. And cold brewing is no exception to this rule.

For the best cold brew coffee, you want a very coarse grind. If you go too fine, not only will the coffee be harsh and bitter but the grounds may clump together, inhibiting proper extraction.

If you’re buying ground coffee make sure to ask for coarse ground, similar to what you would use to make French press coffee. Many prefer to freshly grind their own beans (a French press grinder is a good option) as this is the best way to get the maximum flavor from your delicious coffee.

If you are using the cold drip coffee machine, coarse ground coffee will also allow the water to filter through the beans and drip out the bottom. Using finely ground coffee may inhibit this.

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Pre-Ground Coffee vs Coffee Beans for Cold Brew

Whether pre-ground coffee or whole coffee beans are your preference, you can use either for cold brew.
Will the result be the same? No. Should you let it put you off? Absolutely not.

Whilst freshly ground coffee will produce better results, it will be less obvious than with other brewing methods thanks to the nature of cold extraction.

So, don’t stress over whether you can use regular ground coffee for cold brew. Just follow these top tips when your shopping for the best results:

  • Check the date: Ensure the coffee was roasted very recently – there should be a “roast date” on the packet
  • Size matters: Buy “coarse ground” or “French press” grind so that you have the right size of coffee particles. Avoid going too fine by staying away from espresso blends.
  • Ask the experts: Get your coffee ground for you in a specialist coffee shop, if possible. Plus, you can ask them what beans and grind size they recommend for cold brewing in your specific coffee maker

No matter what coffee bean variety you choose, grinding fresh at home will always produce the best results. But don’t let the fact you don’t have a grinder put you off trying cold brew coffee.

Looking for a Grinder for your Cold Brew?
Check out our recommendations for French press grinders – they will all work perfectly for cold brew too.

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How to Make Cold Brew Coffee

Making cold brew coffee at home couldn’t be simpler.

But the way you make it will dictate the flavor, the best coffee beans to use, and how long it will take.

  1. Immersion Brewing: Coffee grounds are steeped in cold water for anywhere between 12 and 24 hours before being filtered. This is, generally, the preferred method for home-brewers as it is pretty easy and can be made in a mason jar or French press
  2. Drip Brewing: Ice water is dripped onto the coffee grounds, and the resultant brew is collected in a waiting carafe. This method is much faster although will still take 3-5 hours and requires buying specific equipment

Flavor-wise, the results from immersion brewing will be more full-bodied and concentrated. Whereas, drip brewing yields a more medium-bodied brew.

Infographic: How to make cold brew coffee in a French press

We are big fans of the immersion method as it doesn’t involve additional expenditure or getting a specific cold brew coffee maker. All you need is the right coffee beans for cold brew.

A good starting point is a simple cold brew ratio of 1oz of coarsely ground beans to 1 cup of water.

You can use a big mason jar or French press, mix your coffee and water and leave in the fridge for 12-24 hours. The exact length of time will depend on your beans and strength preferences.

Then simply pour through a coffee filter or push down the plunger and you’ll have your cold brew concentrate.

Mix equal amounts of concentrate and water which, adjusted to suit your desired strength. And there you have a super easy cold brew coffee. 

Depending on your preferred taste and strength, you may want to use less water or steep for longer (Starbucks steep for 20 hours). As a general rule, the darker the roast, the shorter the steeping time.

Basically – have fun. Experiment. Make the cold brew coffee that makes your heart sing.

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Keeping Cool

A hot day kicked off with an icy cold brew coffee. Sounds absolutely ideal, doesn’t it?

Well, maybe not. If you add ice cubes to help you stay cool and refreshed, just remember that they will melt. And, when they do, it will dilute your cold brew and mess up the flavor.

The solution? Buy some whiskey stones and keep them in your freezer. Then, when you’re ready, you can pop them in your cold brew, keeping it cold without diluting the flavor.

If you don’t fancy spending some money on reusable ice cubes, then freeze some cold brew in an ice tray. Then use that to keep your drink chilled instead of frozen water. This way, as they melt it won’t ruin the taste of your coffee. These are the science lessons I needed at school.

Remember – cold brew and iced coffee aren’t the same thing. Iced coffee is simply regular brewed coffee that is cooled and poured over ice. Then there’s nitro cold brew coffee which is a regular cold brew with nitrogen through it for extra creaminess.

Read Next: How to Make Nitro Cold Brew at Home

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Our Verdict

Life is about choice and having fun. So, the best coffee beans for cold brew are the ones that you enjoy the most.

Whether you prefer medium or dark roast; immersion or drip brewing; milk, straight or on the rocks – just do you. Any one of the cold brew coffee beans reviewed here will yield great results to keep you cool, caffeinated, and happy.


Matt Woodburn-Simmonds

Matt's coffee obsession started in 2006 when working as a Barista. A tendency to turn up to work hungover kickstarted his coffee journey which quickly turned into a love affair. As he moved on to work as a Restaurant Manager and Sommelier, the obsession continued to grow. Now, his passion is helping others to enjoy better coffee at home.

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