What Kind of Coffee to Use for Cold Brew

For many of us who love cold brew coffee, it doesn’t matter what time of year it is, we still enjoy a glass of cold brew in the mornings. Personally, I love the convenience of having a few days worth of coffee in the fridge ready to go. I’ve experimented quite a bit with different types of coffee when making my cold brew and finally found what I like best. Plus I’ve discovered a few useful tips along the way. Below is our guide for what kind of coffee to use for cold brew.

Why does roast matter?

Coffee roasting is the process of roasting coffee beans for various lengths of time and at varying temperatures depending on the desired result. Roast types matter a lot because the different roast types (light, medium, and dark) greatly affect the flavor and aroma of your morning cup. Light roasts are light brown in color and roasted for the least amount of time. They appear dry and have no oils on the surface because they are not roasted long enough for the oils to break through. They’re high in acidity and also have the highest caffeine content because of their short roasting time.

Medium roasts are medium brown in color and have a stronger flavor than light roasts. The surface is not oily and they’re less acidic than light roasts. Dark roasts have been roasted the longest amount of time. The beans are dark brown in color and have very little acidity. Dark roasts are the strongest in flavor and have some bitterness. There is often a misconception that dark roasts are higher in caffeine. In fact, they have less caffeine than light or medium roasts because a small percentage of the caffeine is cooked out of the beans due to the longer roasting time.

What kind of coffee to use for cold brew

Whole beans or pre-ground?

Choosing whether to buy whole beans and grind them yourself or buying pre-ground coffee comes down to convenience and quality. Pre-ground coffee is much more convenient because it’s ready to use straight out of the bag. However, you will sacrifice some quality and taste. To put it simply, the exterior of the coffee bean is what holds in all of the aromas and oils that contribute to the taste of the coffee.

Bagged pre-ground coffee has already lost some of those aromas and oils, affecting the quality. There’s nothing wrong with buying pre-ground coffee, but once you try grinding your own coffee beans, you’ll likely notice the improvement. So if you can spare a couple of extra minutes to grind your own beans, it’s definitely worth it. If you’re in the market for a coffee grinder, we have a post to help here. Plus a guide on how to clean a coffee grinder here.

What kind of coffee to use for cold brew

You can technically use any roast type for cold brew – light, medium, or dark. However, because cold brew results in a low acidity coffee, the bright and floral notes of a light roast will be muted considerably. You won’t end up with a very flavorful or rich tasting iced coffee. For that reason, we recommend going with a medium or dark roast. Either will work well. It just depends on your taste preferences. If you’re new to cold brew, try a medium roast first and then go to a dark roast if you want a stronger and bolder flavor profile.

Choosing the right grind size is an important element of making a good cold brew. For the best results, choose a coarse grind for cold brew. Because the coffee grounds are submerged in water, a fine grind tends to clump together more easily. The coffee grounds need to be able to swirl around freely in order to extract well and get the most flavor out of the grounds.

Benefits of cold brew

Cold brew has grown a lot in popularity in recent years. And it has many of the same benefits as hot coffee plus a couple more that hot coffee lacks. Just like hot coffee, the caffeine in cold brew stimulates your central nervous system and increases metabolism (source). Although you should never rely on caffeine to lose weight, it can be a minor aid in boosting your metabolism. Also, coffee can have a significant positive effect on your mood and alertness. Coffee, even at relatively low doses, improved mood and performance of both sleep-deprived and non-sleep-deprived individuals in this study.

People who struggle with acid reflux often avoid hot coffee because it has a significant amount of acidity unless it is a very light roast. However, cold brew generally has less acidity than hot coffee. So if you are sensitive to the acidity of hot coffee, give cold brew a try. Cold brew is also usually less bitter and has a smoother texture than hot coffee. Those who dislike the bitterness of hot coffee may find cold brew much more enjoyable to drink.

Tips for better cold brew

  1. Find your water-to-coffee ratio – A general water-to-coffee ratio is about 5:1 meaning 1 cup of coffee grounds for every 5 cups of water. This ratio, when using a coarse grind, will create a decently strong cup of coffee that is still smooth and easy to drink. However, the ratio depends a lot on your grind size. We recommend to start at a 5:1 ratio and then adjust up or down depending on your grind size and taste preferences.
  2. Use coffee ice cubes – Some people like to put a few ice cubes in their cold brew to keep it cold for longer. But if you don’t drink it quickly enough, you’ll end up with watered down coffee. An easy solution to this is coffee ice cubes! When your cold brew is done brewing, just fill up an ice cube tray with your brew, pop it in the freezer, and enjoy cold brew that stays cold and doesn’t become watered down.
  3. Use filtered water – If you live in an area with quality tap water, it’s certainly okay to use. But using filtered water in your cold brew is going to give it a better and cleaner flavor over tap water.
  4. Be patient – Cold brew takes some time to make. Usually between 12 and 24 hours depending on your grind size and taste preferences. So be patient with it! If you’re just starting to make cold brew, it could take a few tries to figure out the perfect water-to-coffee ratio and brewing time for you.