Did you know that nearly 65% of Americans consume coffee on a regular basis and that half of younger Americans rate cold brew as an excellent option when compared with hot coffee?
Before diving into discovering the best cold brew coffee grounds, it is best to understand what cold brew is and how environmental factors can play a role in perfecting cold brew coffee.
We'll explain water temperature, different methods of making cold-brewed coffee, what roasts and beans to use, if grounds or whole beans are better, and all the ways you can use cold brew coffee. (spoiler alert: it's not just for drinking)
What Is Cold Brew?
Cold brew is a type of coffee differentiating from what its name suggests. A common misconception is a cold brew is a cold coffee beverage; (like iced coffee) never warm.
It all boils down to its brewing process (no pun intended), not the coffee's drinking temperature.
Many people underestimate the versatility of cold brew coffee. For cold brew, it comes in a variety of flavors (based on the type of roast you prefer), and you can make cold brew coffee in many ways.
Note: Cold brew's key components are temperature, roast & grind size
They control the flavor of how you want your coffee to be.
The easiest way to start the process is by submerging coarsely ground coffee beans in a jar filled with water (around 70 degrees) for at least twelve hours.
Doing so enriches the taste from the coffee bean, gravitating towards a less acidic flavor while maintaining the coffee's caffeine.
Cold brew may seem far more complicated than a typical cup of joe.
But don't worry! We'll take you through the methods of achieving the perfect coffee for cold brew. It all starts with brewing temperature.
How Temperature Affects Your Brew
As stated above, temperature leaves an impact on your cold brew more so than regular coffee. With cold brew, the colder the water, the longer the coffee brews.
Thus, it causes the extraction rate to rise. When water lingers on the coffee beans, it brings out the sweetness and caffeine in cold brews without the acidity.
In turn, it highlights the main difference between cold brew coffee and regular hot coffee. Hot coffee is coffee brewed with hot water, poured into a cup, and used to make iced coffee (hot coffee with ice cubes added).
Hot coffee tastes more bitter and acidic when compared to cold brew. Iced coffee seems to make the flavors worse.
The growing benefits of cold brew launched its way into the healthcare industry as well. One of the questions healthcare officials are getting is if cold brew coffee is healthier than regular.
And the answer is yes!
Science shows that coffee enhances metabolism, but cold brew's caffeine content is higher, hence burning calories faster.
Burning calories is not the only health benefit cold brew brings.
Cold brew also reduces your chances of heart disease, depression, and Alzheimer's disease.
However, health officials warn too much caffeine isn't always a good thing and should be limited.
Ok, now we know how temperature plays a roll. What about the best cold brew coffee grounds to use for making cold brew coffee? We'll get to that once we decide which cold brew coffee brewing method we'd prefer to start with.
What is the Best Way to Make Cold Brew Coffee?
Before you can decide on the coffee beans to make your cold brew coffee at home with, we'll first need to choose a cold brew method based on your specific situation. There are three main ways to prepare cold brew coffee. Each will use cold or room temperature water.
The immersion method works by placing coffee grounds into a vessel and filling that same vessel with water, allowing for the water to extract flavors and caffeine from the coffee over an extended amount of time.
This immersion process takes longer than other methods, but it may be the easiest and least expensive brewing method. It is also the best way to make a cold brew concentrate.
Some machines that employ this method include the Toddy Cold Crew System, The Bold Home Brewer, and even a French Press.
The cold drip method works by placing a water reservoir above the coffee grounds. A valve controls the water's drip speed onto the grounds.
It then travels through the grounds and finally rests in a carafe after. You can use room temperature or cold water with this method.
The drip action extracts caffeine while allowing very little time to pass for the water to absorb much else. The friction from the water droplets speeds up the extraction process over other methods.
Drip machines are generally more massive and more expensive than others. Standard cold drip machines include the Japanese Yama cold drip tower, the Bruer, and various dutch cold brewers.
Hybrid / Agitation
The hybrid method combines the drip and immersion methods into one. You'll enjoy the faster speed and brewing options from both approaches.
Like the cold drip method, these machines are usually bigger than an immersion setup. The great thing about some hybrid systems is that you receive benefits from all forms from one device.
An example product that uses hybrid technology is the Gourmia GCM6800.
Now that you've got an idea for which method you'd like to try, let's take a look at which roasts to consider. Then, we'll get to choosing the best coffee grounds for your homemade cold brew coffee.
Choosing the Best Grind for Cold Brew Coffee
Getting the best grind for your coffee starts by distinguishing the grind sizes. There are seven types of grind sizes: extra coarse, coarse, medium coarse, medium, medium-fine, fine, and extra fine.
We believe the best grind size is coarse or medium coarse for most cold brew applications.
Which Roasts Should I Buy?
Choosing a roast that is best for your cold brewing experience is mostly personal. We have tried many coffee beans and roasts from all over the world in multiple systems.
After all of our testing, we find that the below statements are factual for us:
Light to Medium Roast
Suppose you plan on using the cold drip method. In that case, light roasts preserve the acidity better than using the same roast with other methods. Light roasts will produce a more grassy/sour brew than immersion. You may also pull other nuanced floral notes that are sometimes lost with other methods.
Hybrid cold drip/immersion systems work best using a medium roast in our taste tests. It ensures you maintain the balanced flavor of the lighter roast while reducing the acidic undertones.
The resulting immersion brew ensures you get the most caffeine from the extraction process while muting the more sour flavors, if that is what you prefer.
Medium to Dark Roast
Suppose you plan on using an immersion system. In that case, you'll enjoy a more earthy flavor profile, which works well for mixing in other flavors or enhancing hot brews.
Some prefer immersion because more people may enjoy it over drip. You may struggle with extracting the caffeine content you want from a light roast.
A medium to dark roast also works well as a base for nitro cold brew.
Ultimately, your preferences may differ from ours. There is no correct answer here, but if you are new to cold brew, consider the guidelines above.
Blends vs. Single-Origin
Choosing from a blend versus single-origin beans can be controversial in the mainstream hot brewed coffee-drinking world. However, they have specific attributes to compare and contrast when it comes to making cold brew coffee.
Coffee Bean Blends
Coffee bean blends use a combination of beans from different parts of the world that create a unique, consistent flavor profile. It is this consistency that makes the most successful coffee blends.
If you are someone that loves Starbucks cold brew, then you'll likely fall into the blend category over single-origin, since Starbucks and other mainstream coffee companies have to mass produce a consistent flavor, which can only be done with blends.
Single-Origin Coffee Beans
Single-origin's flavor resonates with the place from which it grows. The flavors are hardly consistent, even with the same origin, as changing environmental conditions affect yield and harvest quality from season to season.
If you are a cold brew connoisseur, and love the idea of experiencing a wide variety of flavors from all over the globe, go with the more expensive single-origin coffees for a unique cool drip coffee experience, no matter the roast you choose.
Should I buy Grounds or Whole Beans?
Deciding whether to buy ground coffee or whole coffee beans can be a straightforward answer.
If you plan to brew all your coffee grounds in one session, go with a pre-ground coffee in a coarse to medium-coarse size. The benefit here is much of the processing has removed sediment and dust that you may experience from grinding beans at home.
Still, pre-ground coffee may limit your grind size options, where whole coffee beans would not.
Whole beans deliver bold, rich, satisfying flavors that, when fresh, blend well with the water, and offer you the most options for cold brewing.
The downside to whole beans is that you will need to purchase a grinder with the capability to produce the grind size you need for your cold brews.
That said, there are several types of coffee grinder options to choose from: a burr grinder, blade grinder, automatic blade or burr grinders, and manual grinders.
We prefer using a slow burr grinder set to a coarse grind when we make cold brew coffee at home.
Whichever grinder you choose, make sure it has a setting to make coarse ground coffee to avoid sediment.
Let's now look at the best cold brew coffee brands which produce the finest ground coffee for cold brew.
Our Favorite Cold Brew Coffee Grounds
Best Cold Brew Ground Coffee Packs
Bizzy Organic Cold Brew Coffee Packs
Recently, we gave Bizzy cold brew coffee bags a try in our Toddy Cold Brew System and were pleasantly surprised with how well they did without the mess.
The cold brewed coffee flavor was rich, yet smooth. Cold brewing with Bizzy easy to do, and painless to clean up. We think, Bizzy is definitely one of the top cold brew coffee brands, given how easy it is to make delicious brews with their products.
So if you don't have a high-end cold brew coffee maker or some crazy artisan specialty coffee roaster, you'll likely find the welcoming nature of pre-packaged cold brew bags to be the best solution.
Best Seasonal Cold Brew Coffee
Equator Coffees- Specialty Cold Brew - Endless Summer
It's pretty difficult to find a specialty cold brew that is a light roast and in a convenient pre-packed format. Welcome Endless Summer to your hybrid, drip, or immersion setup without the mess!
Spend less time preparing your cold brew and more time enjoying the summer with these pre-measured cold brew packs.
The lighter roast brings in more fruity and floral notes than other blends, and a must-try for cold drip tower lovers.
Best Low Acid Cold Brew Ground Coffee
Stone Street Gourmet Cold Brew Coffee
As someone with a sensitive stomach, I am always looking for great-tasting cold brew coffee that won't hurt my stomach. Stone Street's low-acid pre-ground dark roasted coffee beans are a great option for me to use in the cold brew lab while performing cold brew experiments.
I've used this dark roast coffee in all of my brewers and found that standard immersion brews taste the best out of all, even though this is a single-origin Colombian Supremo bean.
Another thing I really like about this is how common it is. I found some recently at my local grocery store. For how easy it is to find, Stone Street is definitely on of the top 10 coffee grounds to choose for cold brew.
Best Cool Drip Ground Coffee
Caribou Daybreak Morning Blend
For an inexpensive, yet tasty cool drip cold brew coffee, we love Caribou's Daybreak Morning Blend. The flavor is great and it's always easy on our stomachs in the morning.
I'm a creature of habit, so it's always nice to find a coffee that is usually always in stock, and most of the time, I experience a great-tasting cup.
Best Flavor-Enhanced Ground Coffee
Stone Street Flavored Coffees
Stone Street really knows how to infuse flavors into their product. I found these work with pretty much all of the brewing methods we've tried, but my favorite came from the agitation/hybrid/rapid brew systems on the market.
I found that shorter brew times make more sense as bitter notes creep up faster in our tests. If you are looking for a way to turn someone onto cold brew, give Stone Street flavored coffees a try.
What to do with Used Coffee Grounds
Wondering what to do with your leftover grounds after making cold brew coffee? Well, I have good news, there are tons of options for leftover grounds!
From soaps, coffee ice cubes, scrubs, desserts, and nitro cold brews. One of the common uses for cold brew is iced coffee. Cold brew iced coffee differs from the original cold coffee drink.
As I've mentioned throughout the article, cold brew's flavor exceeds that of standard coffee, so it's no wonder that iced coffee's flavor upgrades nicely with cold brew ice cubes.
But you can also use cold brew ice cubes to flavor hot coffee, frappuccinos, and other beverages. Pour your cold brew into an ice tray and stick in the freezer for several hours. Soaps may be an odd divergent from coffee, but your used cold brew grounds make an excellent scrub.
To create the soap, follow your standard soap-making steps but add a splash of cold brew and grounds to the soap molds as they chill in a refrigerator to harden. Please make sure you are careful when you use lye (a necessary ingredient for soap), as it is a harmful ingredient on its own.
You can infuse your used coffee grounds into skin and lip scrubs to brighten and refreshen skin. Using coarse grounds for skin, add brown sugar to dig deep and exfoliate. Lip scrubs are similar to body scrubs, except coconut oil replaces the brown sugar.
There are many desserts made from a cold brewed coffee that are endlessly delicious and fun. Brownies, icebox pie, and cheesecake are just some of the mouth-watering ideas you can choose.
Nitro coffee is another every day (and cool) use for cold brew. You'll use a tap to add pressurized Nitrogen to aerate and sweeten the taste, creating a thick creamy, rich flavor.
Cold brew is a game-changer for many coffee enthusiasts and is rising in popularity over iced coffee. Remember to use your coarsely ground coffee beans as soon as you can to maintain freshness.
If you have any leftover grounds, be sure to make something special out of it.
We would love to see your coffee creations and recommendations (especially if you are repping a local coffee shop), so like, follow, share, tweet us so we can see it! If this has moved you to start your cold brew journey, share this with your friends!