Best Coffee Beans for Cold Brew - 2017 Reviews and Top Picks
When you have decided to get into cold brew coffee, you quickly learn the beans make all the difference, that is why finding the best coffee beans for cold brew coffee is a critical decision of which you must be well-informed about.
Cold brew coffee is one of the best techniques for flavor extraction. Unlike the drip machines where really, any bean will do, for cold brew, having the right coffee bean is the difference between a heavenly cup of coffee and something that just is not worth your time. Now, understanding all this, you also know that it takes a ton of time to find the right coffee beans, and the reality is you don’t have enough time to spend inspecting the vagaries of coffee beans for the right flavor.
However, once you have cold brew coffee, you will find that going back to the standard drip makers are not as enjoyable, so it is vital to learn about the beans. Check out the table below for our top picks.
Why Cold Brew Coffee?
The process of cold brew was once restricted to the higher end coffee shops, a technique that only the most trained baristas would dare embark on. But the reality is cold brew is easy enough for the home barista to try their hand at. All you need is a bit of time to learn and understanding of the process.
The good news is the cold brew is more forgiving of the problems that come with brewing coffee. Specifically, flavor can be affected by a variety of variables – how you store your beans, the altitude at which the beans grow, soil considerations, etc. The bottom line is the process from bean to cup is not the simple idea that most think it is. Coffee enthusiasts know this well.
Cold brew allows for a more muted flavor, really allowing you to taste a different element of coffee and the nice part is for those with stomach issues like acid reflux, cold brew allows you a chance to enjoy that cup of joe without having to pop a Pepcid to keep your esophagus from becoming a five alarm situation.
Once you have the beans, you are off to the races!
When you are looking for a cold brew bean that also provides you with a socially conscious mission, then Tiny Footprint’s cold press blend is the perfect coffee bean for you.
Forgetting for a second the flavor benefits of this coffee, it is important to remember where coffee beans are grown. Chances are, most of the storebought coffee beans are harvested on coffee plantations, and that is a massive problem in terms of how the labor is treated along with the carbon footprint left. Still, there is no judging if you prefer one of these coffees. However, Tiny Footprint made an experiment out of getting a fantastic coffee bean where the workers were treated fairly and the carbon footprint would be negligible.
As the review suggests, this is a fantastic bean. The flavor is perfect for a cold brew coffee, and for those suffering in summer climates, this cold brew coffee is the perfect complement to a summer day. The flavor is quite balanced and the hints of chocolate keep you coming back for more – who doesn’t love chocolate?! There is some assertiveness in the flavor to remind you that, after all, you are drinking coffee, but the bean matches perfectly to the process. Overall, it is hard to find a cup of cold brew coffee that is superior to Tiny Footprint.
Now, a word on the company itself – Tiny Footprint was founded in 2010 with the goal of providing coffee with a carbon negative end process. They have formed cooperatives with various high altitude Andean coffee farmers who are third party certified as organic and Fair Trade. The reason Tiny Footprint is able to claim they are carbon negative is for every pound of coffee purchased they make reforestation efforts specifically in Ecuador’s Mindo cloud forest. Since 4 pounds of CO2 are used to produce one pound of coffee, to make a long story short, they invest heavily in reforestation efforts.
So, it sounds like this is a great company that produces a great coffee bean – too good to be true? In some ways, yes. The price point on Tiny Footprint isn’t the most affordable, and you can’t find it in your local grocery stores, so it is most convenient to order it online. The other problem is many report that Tiny Footprint’s coffee struggles with consistency. Of course, you never want a stale batch, but this is something that happens more often than it should.
Overall, Tiny Footprint provides an excellent coffee bean for cold brew that gives you a sense of purpose every time you put the cup to your lips.
- Balanced flavor with a hint of chocolate
- Quaint but assertive notes provide that unmistakable coffee flavor
- Every time you purchase the coffee beans you are helping out the rain forest - literally
- Price point and availability can be problematic
- Some issues with flavor consistency
At this point, we all know the virtues of Colombian coffee. It is by far one of the best and most flavorful beans in the world. Colombian coffee is renowned for its bold yet smooth flavor, and once you have had Colombian coffee, it is awfully hard to go with any other blend.
So, with that in mind, the folks at Stone Street decided to take the greatness of Colombian coffee and see about pairing that with the cold brew process. And it worked!
The success of Stone Street is the consistency of the beans. They are all of single origin so that when they get to the Brooklyn, NY facility for roasting there are no surprises. The coffee has a warm, bright aroma with some chocolate notes that are not too overpowering. Moreover, it has a smooth taste and the beans appear arrive looking like they have been just roasted. Remember, a key to any type of coffee brewing arises from fresh beans. The fresher, the better.
There are some areas where Stone Street misses though. First, the price point is a bit elevated, though that should not deter cold brew enthusiasts. The second issue is the ordering system does not do a good job with delivering the right coffee. Several reports are of ordering ground coffee and having whole bean arrive, or vice versa. Fortunately, Stone Street’s customer service folks are excellent at taking care of these issues.
Overall, Stone Street provides a great coffee bean for cold brew coffee that any coffee enthusiast will enjoy.
- Alarming in the consistency of the flavor from bag to bag
- Only the freshest beans arrive at your doorstep
- Customer service is very good at taking care of your needs
- A bit pricey for some
- Ordering system is prone to send you whole bean when you ordered ground, or vice versa
When a business literally takes the name of what their market is, you can bet they offer a product that is tailor made for their customers. Cold Brew Kitchen does exactly that with their Reserve Blend – this is an excellent coffee for the cold brew enthusiast.
When you think about consistently between different bags of beans or grounds, it is something that all fair-trade coffees struggle with. Cold Brew Kitchen, however, has found a way to do it with success and they boast of using hand selection to ensure the best possible flavors. This particular medium roast is noted for its warm aroma and does not seek to be more than it is – a plain good cup of coffee. For those summer days when you want something refreshing yet enjoy a good cup of coffee, it is quite difficult to do better than this particular bean.
Now, again, part of what you are paying for is the consciousness of the coffee. Cold Brew Kitchen uses fair trade practices in order to get you a coffee that is not borne of mistreated workers or harmful to the land. This is what accounts for its price point.
The other issue Cold Brew Kitchen has is the boldness of the medium roast. This particular product claims to be medium but many people have noted that it is a bit weak. Keep that in mind, and also remember the cold brew process does mute flavors, so if you want bold flavor, then you need a bolder bean.
Overall, Cold Brew Kitchen does a good job getting you a great cup of cold brew coffee – after all, what’s in a name…
- Good flavor that hits all the solid notes you expect in cold brew coffee
- Specializes in cold brew coffee
- Fair trade designation means you are getting coffee that is good to the environment and workers
- The medium roast is a bit weak
- Some consistency issues even though they claim beans are hand picked
Madesco is very proud of their cold brew coffee, they claim that it even resuscitates! Not sure what they mean by that, but they are really keen on promoting their cold brew coffee that way. Also, as a company, they claim to be leaders in providing the right cold brew beans for coffee enthusiasts. Again, that can be debated – much like resuscitation – but what is not up for debate is Madesco produces an excellent cold brew coffee bean at a pretty good price.
Now, the other thing Madesco does is include recipe books and all other types of materials with the purchase. If you are looking for just a bag of cold brew coffee, it can be overwhelming, but you have to admire their enthusiasm. Having options is not necessarily a bad thing. They advertise a bold, robust flavor for your cold brew, so in essence they are trying to counter the narrative that cold brew coffee is muted and weak. Their cold brew claims to be anything but that.
The truth is for the most part they are right. This is a good cold brew coffee with a unique taste. It certainly is not for everyone – some will find it not to be the most consistent of flavors – but it certainly makes a valid attempt to resuscitate. Combine that with their enthusiasm for the cold brew process, and you have a company that seems dedicated to doing a great job and will only get better.
The downside is what was said before, the flavor is not for everyone and you may be overloaded with other things besides the coffee.
Overall, Madesco does a good job of getting you enthusiastic about cold brew – and that is never a bad thing!
- Robust flavor that will have a great appeal for many cold brew consumers
- Madesco is all-in on cold brew, so you can only imagine that the products and services will keep getting better
- No reports of inconsistency from bag to bag
- The amount of stuff you get besides the coffee beans can be a bit overwhelming
- The flavor isn’t for everyone – Madesco is trying to overcome the muting effects of cold brew
Koffee Kult unabashedly refers to themselves as the coffee for coffee snobs. This is certainly quite a boast and when you make such a boast, you better be able to back it up. For Koffee Kult, their blend of Brazilian and Colombian coffee beans is designed to provide a great flavor that will satisfy even the most discerning of coffee drinker’s palettes.
Fortunately for them, the use of their beans in a cold brew coffee accentuates the positive notes of the flavorful beans and overall some of the tastiest coffee on the market. Koffee Kult makes it a point to note that their coffee is roasted in America and up to American standards. The company cares deeply about appeasing coffee enthusiasts, and this is certainly a great thing for people who are interested in this product.
So, now that this company has marketed itself as the best cold brew out there, the next question is should you buy their coffee. Well, Koffee Kult is appropriately named, because the people who buy their beans are rabidly enthusiastic. Many refuse to ever buy another brand and are seriously devoted to this product. For any company, this level of loyalty is something that may be out of reach, but Koffee Kult has stumbled upon a winning formula in that regard.
In fact, Koffee Kult is so in tune with their customers that they even re-designed the bag so that their customers would have an easier time keeping the beans properly stored. How many companies are that passionate about pleasing their customers?
However, Koffee Kult is not without fault. Unfortunately, for a company that prides itself on how much its customers love its coffee, there are many customers who just as passionately hate the coffee. They complain of being sent sour beans and beans that are not fresh. Unfortunately, there are too many of these instances to say they are one off problems. Many people have also said this coffee does not sit well in their stomach – and that is one of the chief benefits of cold brew, being easy on the stomach.
Ultimately, Koffee Kult is hit or miss, if it hits, it hits. But if you are one of those people who gets a bad bag, then that is definitely a missed opportunity for such an ambitious company.
- Very ambitious about being a top cold brew coffee bean
- Unbelievable loyalty from people who are customers, if you enjoy them, you are hooked
- Very responsive to customer needs, best exemplified by redesigned bag
- This coffee has been known to be hard on people’s stomachs, certainly a problem for cold brew
- Way too many instances of people getting bad batches of coffee
The Cold Brew Process
For people who love coffee but want a milder, less acidic method of enjoying a good cup of coffee, the cold brew process is something that they embrace enthusiastically.
The key with cold brew is it must be a longer steeping and brewing process than with the drip coffee makers. With the traditional brewing systems, water has to be warmed between 195 to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. For cold brew, temperatures that hover around 90 degrees Fahrenheit are critical. The next step is to store the steeping coffee in the refrigerator overnight.
The next day, you can enjoy the coffee with cream and sugar just as you would a regular cup of coffee. You will notice immediately how cold brew is less acidic and sits better in your stomach. Once a staple of coffee shops, cold brew is now available for everyone and it is important to have the right beans for this purpose.
Cold brew is a fantastic way to enjoy a cup of coffee. Make sure you have the right beans and understand how to brew this coffee and you will definitely have a new way to enjoy an old favorite.