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Cold brew is a burgeoning trend in the coffee world today, and really, why should it not be? It does have some advantages over your regular hot coffee: it tends to be less acidic, less bitter, has an overall sweeter and smoother taste, and is just more refreshing on a hot summer day.
Whether you are an avid cold brew connoisseur or are just getting into the game as a coffee drinker, you probably want to know what the best coffee grounds for cold brew are so you can skip the coffee shop lines and prepare your perfect cup at home. If that is the case, keep reading for all you need to know about choosing the best coffee grounds for cold brew.
Cold Brew Coffee – An Overview
Let us begin by briefly going over exactly what cold brew coffee is, in case this is your first introduction to this delicious beverage.
Cold brew coffee is coffee that has never come into contact with hot water. This makes it distinct from iced coffee, which involves making coffee with hot water, letting it cool down, and then serving it over ice. We’ve also discussed this in a previous post about the health benefits of cold brew coffee.
Using cold water or even room temperature water in the brewing method gives cold brew its characteristics of being sweeter, less acidic, and less bitter than coffee made with hot water.
Also, it is important to note that you do not typically just brew a cup of cold brew coffee – you make a batch of cold brew coffee concentrate. To make cold brew coffee concentrate, you essentially mix coarse coffee grounds in some water, let them steep in a container for 12-24 hours (you do have to be patient!), and then strain the moistened grinds into another container.
Then you just dilute the concentrate with water, milk, or cream over ice to suit your taste. That. Is. It. Simple, right?
While you do not necessarily have to put a lot of thought or effort into making and storing your cold brew, you may want to take the time to seriously consider your key ingredient: the coffee grounds.
The Best Coffee Grounds for Cold Brew – A Buyer’s Guide
A few key factors to consider when choosing the best coffee grounds for cold brew are the grind, roast of the coffee bean, and whether the coffee bean is of single-origin or a blend. Let us examine each of these in more detail.
The coffee grind is probably the most important thing to consider when making cold brew coffee. As stated in the overview above, a coarse grind is ideal for cold brewing coffee. A coarse grind allows the water to drip quickly and easily, and it will also extract more slowly over the long steeping time required for the cold brew method. We’ve previously discussed the characteristics of fine ground and coarse ground coffee
If you went with more of a fine grind, the water would not be able to flow as easily as the coffee will be denser. The water just sitting there with the coffee for so long may lead to the oils in the grounds being over-extracted, resulting in your cold brew having a harsh, bitter flavor. Besides, if you use a really fine grind, you risk some of the grinds coming right through your filter and into your coffee, resulting in a grainy texture.
Your next question may be, do I need to grind my own beans or buy them pre-ground? Well, ultimately, it is up to you, but let us help you decide by taking you through the pros and cons of both options.
Grinding Your Own Beans Pros
- Arguably superior flavor when compared with pre ground coffee beans
- You can customize the exact texture of your grounds
Coffee connoisseurs will likely tell you that the flavors released when grinding your own beans can just not be compared with pre ground coffee – the flavors are arguably superior.
If you do want to grind your own cold brew coffee beans, make sure your coffee grinder lets you choose the grind size. If you grind too coarsely, your coffee will be weak and perhaps a bit sour. If you grind too fine, it will be harsh and bitter.
If you are in the market for a coffee grinder, consider purchasing a burr or mill grinder, as they will likely give you an even consistency each time. This is not a guarantee with something like a blade grinder. You could also use a grinder at a coffee shop or grocery store if you did not want to do it yourself at home.
Grinding Your Own Beans Cons
- More time-consuming
- Need to use beans quickly
- Whole beans can be expensive
Of course, grinding your own beans will be messier and more time-consuming than buying pre ground coffee. You will always need to clean the grinder after you have ground your beans and, if you really want to experience the full flavor of the beans, you will only want to grind it as needed. This is because both the flavors and the aroma of the coffee beans are at their peak just after grinding, so once you have them ground, you want to get that coffee brewing as soon as possible.
Similarly, the beans themselves also need to be used relatively quickly after they have been bought, as they are at their freshness and flavor peak for only about two to three weeks. You do not want to have to throw away stale beans either, as they can be significantly more expensive than pre-ground coffee.
Pre-Ground Coffee Pros
- Relatively inexpensive
Not everyone has the time or patience to grind beans every time they want a cup of cold brewed coffee, and not everyone can afford to buy whole beans every couple of weeks. And that is ok! As long as you are satisfied with your cup of coffee at the end of the day, then the details do not really matter. If you buy pre-ground coffee for cold brew, make sure it is a coarse grind and try to use the can or bag within a week for optimal freshness.
Pre-Ground Coffee Cons
- You will likely not get the freshest or most flavorful cup of coffee possible
- You cannot directly control the coarseness of the grounds
You already know that coffee grounds are at their freshest and most flavorful right after you have ground the beans. They can then lose out on even more of their quality if not stored under the proper conditions. The oils in the coffee can be very fragile in that they can take on odors and moisture in the air around them, dampening their overall quality and therefore interfering with their flavors.
So…Should I Grind the Beans Myself or Buy Pre-Ground?
Ultimately, it is up to you! Essentially, if you want convenience, go for pre-ground. If you want to get the most flavor out of your coffee, grind the beans yourself.
You can technically use light, medium, or dark roast beans for cold brew coffee. Which roast you choose largely depends on your flavor preferences, but certain roasts do work better for cold brew than others.
If you prefer light roast coffee beans, you can certainly use them for cold brew. It is important to note that cold brew coffee is not as high in acidity as traditionally brewed coffee, so the delicate citrus flavors typical of light roast beans do not always come through.
Some consider medium to medium-dark roasts to be the best choice for cold brew, as they provide a balanced flavor without being too bitter. Note that you may choose to use an extra coarse grind for a medium roast if you want the most flavor extraction from your grounds.
If you like hints of chocolate, spice, and nuts in your cold brew, try dark roast beans. Due to these strong flavors, you may want to steep your cold brew for less time using a dark roast.
Single Origin or Blend?
While both options certainly work with cold brew coffee, single-origin beans tend to be more appreciated using this method. Blends are usually the preferred choice for something like espresso as they can help balance the bitterness and acidity released during the brewing process.
With cold brew methods, the coffee is already naturally low in acidity and bitterness, so you do not need anything extra to balance it out.
There are many delicious and flavorful blends out there for cold brew, so do not count them out! But if you are looking to experience the flavors and origins of your coffee beans, the cold brew method provides an excellent opportunity to appreciate the single-origin beans.
Roast Your Own Coffee Beans?
You could also consider roasting your own coffee beans. It can get complicated to roast your own coffee beans but you can use our previous posts on ‘8 easy steps to roast your coffee beans‘ and the ‘ultimate guide to home coffee roasting‘ to guide you.
The Best Coffee Grounds for Cold Brew
Now that we have gone through all the things to consider when choosing the best coffee grounds for cold brew, let us look at some of our favorite brands (in no particular order, as ultimately, this depends on personal taste).
Stone Street Coffee Cold Brew Reserve
If you are looking for a dark roast, Columbian single-origin coffee, try Stone Street Coffee Cold Brew Reserve Coarse Ground Coffee (also available in a whole bean option). This coffee will give you a balanced and smooth-tasting cold brew coffee with low acidity, and it is made with 100% Columbian Arabica beans, which are known to be highly fragrant.
The packaging is also what sets this coffee apart from other brands, as it has 3-layers and is resealable, which means it helps protect against outside odors and moisture that would otherwise affect the quality of your coffee.
This great coffee has over 7,000 reviews on Amazon and most with a 4 to 5-star rating.
Now, this coffee may be a little bit expensive compared to other comparable brands, but it may be worth it, according to customer reviews!
Bizzy Organic Cold Brew
Bizzy Organic Cold Brew Ground Coffee is specifically engineered for cold brew methods. It uses the first micro-sifted ground coffee optimized for consistency and smoothness in your cold brew.
While they do also offer light and dark roasts, this specific Smooth and Sweet blend seen here is sure to please nearly any coffee lover, as it includes light, medium, and dark roast beans sourced from Nicaragua and Peru.
Bizzy cold brew has over 30 reviews on Amazon and most customers gave it a 4 to 5-star rating.
This coffee also boasts that it is 100% organic, ethically sourced, and sustainably produced, so you can feel good about choosing this brand. The only possible downside to this is that it only comes pre-ground, so if you prefer to grind your own beans, this may not be your ideal choice.
Tiny Footprint Organic Cold Brew Cold Press Elixer
Tiny Footprint Organic Cold Brew Cold Press Elixer holds the world’s first carbon-negative coffee title. The company says that it takes them 4 pounds of carbon to make 1 pound of their coffee, but that for every pound produced, they donate a portion of the proceeds to fund reforestation in Ecuador.
Over time, the trees planted through these donations will remove about 54 pounds of carbon from the atmosphere. You can feel good purchasing from this company!
Made from 100% light and dark roast Arabica beans with a sweet and smooth taste, including fruity and floral notes, this coffee produces a unique flavor and is still affordable.
This coffee has over 1800 reviews on Amazon and most customers gave it a 4 to 5-star rating. It is also an Amazon Choice product.
Customers say that it may be a little more bitter than other similar offerings, but some people may enjoy that kind of taste.
Walking Bear Cold Brew Coffee Grounds
Wandering Bear Cold Brew is a strong, dark roast, coarse ground, full-bodied and chocolaty ground coffee. This 1 lb pack can make about 20 glasses per pound of ground coffee.
The coffee is 100% organic and ground especially for cold brewing and French Press. It is roasted in Brooklyn New Your in small batches and packed in one way valve bags to preserve freshness.
There are over 390 customer reviews on Amazon with most customers giving a 4 to 5-start rating.
According to customer reviews, the beans do not necessarily look or smell the greatest when you first open the bag, but fortunately, this does not compromise the overall taste.
Spare Moment Coarse Ground Cold Brew Coffee
Spare Moment Cold Brew coffee ground was the winner of America Best Cold Brew Competition in 2019.
It is a medium roast 100% arabica coffee beans that have been hand-selected and carefully roasted that will bring a revolutionizing morning to start the day with the best cup of joe, this sweetness flavor will fill your desires to start your day or to continue a pleasant afternoon.
It has a smooth sweet taste with notes of blueberry, nuts, and chocolate. It is a fair trade coffee and ethically sourced.
This coffee has over 38 customer reviews on Amazon and most customers gave a 4 to 5-star rating.
Death Wish Coffee
Death Wish Coffee touts itself as the world’s strongest coffee in terms of its caffeine content and bold flavor. It has subtle hints of cherry and chocolate flavors and is made with a blend of dark roast Arabica and Robusta beans. We show the special double pack here which also includes the Valhalla Java Odinforce Ground Coffee Blend which is equally good for a strong cold brew coffee.
Death Wish Ground coffee has over 2600 customer reviews on Amazon with most customers giving 4 to 5-star reviews. This clearly this is very popular coffee ground coffee!
This coffee is not designed specifically for cold brew, but its bold flavors make it an excellent choice for this brewing method. It is also good if you like to mix your cold brew with milk. It is USDA-certified organic, fair trade, and also comes in pre-ground varieties. This double pack is worth a try!
Cold Brew Lab Coffee
This Cold Brew Lab Organic Coarse Ground Coffee (but also available in whole bean varieties) is made of 100% Columbian Arabica beans in a blend of medium and dark roast, perfect for cold brew coffee. They boast that these beans have been optimized for cold brew methods and that you will get a balanced, smooth, full-bodied flavor with low acidity. The only real drawback to this coffee is that the bag is not necessarily the best for storing your coffee, so you may want to pour it into an airtight container yourself.
Cold Brew Lab coffee has over 1,000 customer reviews on Amazon with most giving a 4 to 5-star rating.
Grady’s Cold Brew Coffee Kit
Grady’s Cold Brew Coffee Kit is an interesting concept that allows you to brew your coffee anywhere you go (as long as you have water)! I feature it here because I thought it was a novel idea. However, The only issue here is that the coffee bags also contain chicory and spices.
If you just want coffee then this isn’t for you. However, if you don’t mind added flavor and spice then it may be worth a try. The pouch contains 12 x 2 oz bags where each bag is three servings of coffee.
You simply open the pouch, add a ‘coffee bag’, pour water into the pouch, and let it brew for at least 12 hours. You then remove bags from the pouch, discard or compost, and dispense the cold brew directly into your cup through a handy valve at the bottom of the pouch.
Grady’s Cold Brew coffee kit has over 800 customer reviews on Amazon with most giving a 4 to 5-star rating.
What is the best choice of cold brew coffee when diluting with milk?
Try a dark roast cold brew coffee if you like to dilute with milk, as the strong flavors can cut through the creaminess of the milk better than other roasts.
How do I keep my cold brew coffee ice cold without diluting it too much?
Try popping some coffee ice cubes in your cold brew! Just fill an ice cube tray with some pre-made cold brew coffee (or even the concentrate for an extra kick) and toss in your cup as needed.
Is it better to use a coffee that is specifically made for cold brew?
Not necessarily. As long as you have a coarse grind, then any coffee can be appropriate for cold brew. As discussed before, the flavors of some roasts do come through a bit better than others, but it really just depends on personal preference. Some people may prefer a coffee that does not have particularly pronounced flavors.
Other Posts on Cold Brew Coffee
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