Which Roast Is Best For Cold Brew? Know Before Buying

Dark roast coffee beans are typically considered the best type of beans to use when brewing cold brew coffee. The type of beans that you should use will depend on your own taste preferences, but most people prefer a darker roast bean in cold brewed coffee than traditional hot brewed coffee. This is because cold brews draw out the natural sweetness of the coffee bean and constrain some of the intensity of darker roasts.

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Key Takeaways

  • Dark roast coffee beans are usually considered best for cold brew coffee
  • Dark roast beans will result in a richer, more complex flavor
  • Medium roast beans are considered the ‘happy medium’ by some
  • The roast level you choose will have a big impact on the flavor profile of your cold brew
  • It’s important to use coarsely ground coffee beans made in small batches
  • You can use regular ground coffee for cold brewing, although it might not result in the best flavors

Table Of Contents

Which Roast Is Best For Cold Brew?

Dark roast coffee beans are often considered to be the best coffee beans for cold brew coffee, although your own preference will always come down to a matter of taste. Cold brew coffee is brewed by steeping coffee grounds in cold water, usually for an extended period of time of around 12 hours or more.

Dark roast beans have a low acidity level, which helps to preserve the flavor of the cold brew process. The rich and robust texture of a cold brew coffee perfectly complements dark roast beans.

Most experts recommend that beginners start by preparing cold brew coffees using dark roast beans, before experimenting with medium and lighter roasted beans to find the cold brew preparation that’s most suited to their personal preferences.

Light Roast For Cold Brew

Preparing cold brew coffee with light roasted beans results in a delicate coffee with a light body. Lightly roasted beans allow more of the beans’ flavor to run throughout the drink. They usually result in cold brews that have a subtly toasted flavor.

The cold brewing process will naturally reduce the acidity levels of light roast beans. Cold brews prepared with light roast beans are usually less flavorful and complex than those prepared with darker roast beans.

Medium Roast For Cold Brew

Medium roasted beans are sometimes considered the middle ground beans for cold brew coffees. This is because they result in a balanced flavor profile that fuses the sweetness of darker roasts with the acidity of lighter roasts.

Cold brews prepared with medium roast beans reveal more of the beans’ flavor than darker roast cold brews, as well as the roast profile of the bean. They may not be quite as complex or nutty as darker roast preparations. They’re a good choice for people who want less intensity than dark roast preparations offer.

Dark Roast For Cold Brew Coffee

Dark roast coffee beans are usually considered the best beans to make cold brew coffee with. They offer a strong, smoky flavor profile with chocolatey undertones and low acidity levels.

Dark roast beans also carry less caffeine than lighter roast beans, which is often preferred in cold brew coffees. However, the caffeine difference may be relatively small; one scientific study showed that light roast coffee beans contain less than 20% more caffeine than dark roast beans, on average.

When you prepare a cold brew coffee with dark roasted beans, you’ll get more of the roast profile than the beans’ individual flavor. This results in a rich flavor that can be complemented by the addition of milk and cream.

which roast coffee beans are best for cold brew

Does Roast Matter For Cold Brew?

Roast matters when making cold brew because it affects the flavor of your coffee. Different levels of roasts result in different flavor profiles in a cold brew. Many people find that their roast preferences when drinking a cold brew are totally different to their roast preferences when drinking a hot brewed coffee.

The cold brewing process results in reduced acidity levels in the coffee, which can help to balance out the naturally high acidity of lighter roasts. However, the sweet, rich flavor of dark roasted beans is considered the perfect accompaniment to the robust texture of cold brew preparations.

Ultimately, experimenting with different types of beans is the best way to find out what type of coffee beans you like best in your cold brew coffee. If you already use medium or dark roasted beans in your hot brewed coffees, try making cold brew with your favorite medium or dark beans.

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Medium Or Dark Roast: Which Is Better For Cold Brew

While most people prefer cold brews prepared with darker roast beans, some people may prefer the balance that medium roasted beans offer. The extended brewing period used when preparing cold brew coffee results in a more mellow flavor than typical hot brew preparations, which is why darker beans are often preferred.

Medium roast beans are sometimes considered to be the happy medium between dark roast beans and light roast beans, especially when preparing cold brewed coffee. Medium roast beans allow more of the flavor of the bean to come through, while also benefiting from relatively low acidity levels and an interesting roast profile.

Medium roasted beans create a pleasant cold brew that isn’t too intense, especially if you usually prepare your hot brewed coffee with a lighter roast.

cup of cold brew with dark roast beans

Is Dark Or Light Roast Better For Cold Brew Coffee?

Dark roast beans are widely considered to be the best beans for cold brew coffees, but this doesn’t mean that everyone prefers cold brew prepared with dark roast. Many people prefer to use light roast beans because cold brewing can mute the acidity of lighter roasts. If you want to enjoy the flavor of your favorite light roasted coffee beans without tasting their acidity, you could try using them in a cold brew.

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Why Is Dark Roast Considered The Best For Cold Brew?

Using dark roast beans will give your cold brew coffee a stronger flavor. Cold brew coffee is brewed for a longer period, and this extended brewing time results in a sweeter and more mellow flavor when compared with hot brewed coffees.

It also reduces the level of acidity in the beans you use. This means that light roasted beans may result in a flavor that is too mellow for many coffee drinkers. The intensity of darker roasted beans is somewhat mollified by the cold brewing process.

Most people find that cold brew coffees taste better when prepared with beans that have a darker, richer flavor. Even if you like lighter roasted beans in your hot brewed coffee, you might find that they result in a coffee that is too subtle or simple when prepared using cold brew methods.

How Espresso Roast Differs From Other Roasts

Espresso is a word that usually refers to the process of brewing a coffee rather than the beans themselves. This process involves forcing high-pressure hot water through finely ground coffee beans to create a highly concentrated coffee. Most beans sold in shops as espresso beans are actually dark roast beans, although this isn’t always the case.

Is It Suitable For Cold Brew?

Most espresso beans are actually just dark roast beans, which are suitable for use in cold brew coffees. However, a lot of espresso beans sold in shops have already been finely ground for use in the espresso preparation process. If you want to use espresso beans to prepare cold brew coffee, it’s important to look for whole espresso beans because you’ll have to use coarsely ground espresso beans to prepare a cold brew.

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Choosing The Best Beans For Your Cold Brew

Whichever level of roast you prefer in your cold brew, the best beans for cold brew coffee will always be organic, fair-trade beans roasted in small batches. Organic and fair-trade beans are not just more ethical, but many people also think that they taste better.

It’s also important to choose either whole beans that you can grind yourself or pre-ground beans that are coarsely ground. The larger surface area of coarsely ground beans allows the water to extract more flavor from the beans, resulting in a much richer and more satisfying flavor.

Choosing beans roasted in small batches means that your cold brew will benefit from the distinct flavor profiles that small-batch roasting offers. Roasting beans in smaller batches allows roasters to maintain more control over the roasting process and create beans with unique flavors and aromas.

You should also look for freshly roasted coffee beans, because the freshness of your beans will impact the flavor of your coffee. Even within 7 days of roasting, beans can lose a huge amount of flavor and aromatic compounds.

Storing Your Cold Brew Coffee

Your cold brew coffee will last between three days and a week if stored correctly. Store your cold brew in a container with an airtight lid, if possible, in the fridge. If you store it at room temperature, this allows bacteria to grow in the cold brew. Use as small a container as possible to reduce the amount of air inside the container and prevent oxidation.

If you like milk or sugar in your cold brew, add this when you serve it. Storing cold brew after you add milk or sugar will vastly decrease the shelf life of your coffee.

If you really want to store your cold brew for longer than a week, consider freezing it. Cold brew can last for months in the freezer. You can freeze cold brew in ice cube trays and store this inside freezer bags. Adding one or two cold brew cubes to your cold brew in the summer months is a good way to keep your coffee cold without diluting it.

a cold brew coffee cup with dark roast beans

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Can You Use Regular Ground Coffee For Cold Brewing?

Yes, you can use regular ground coffee to make cold brew. While coarsely ground coffee beans are ideal for cold brew, you can also prepare cold brew with regular coffee. Regular ground coffee granules are slightly finer than those you would typically use for cold brew. The drip method of cold brewing delivers the best results when using regular ground coffee.

The drip method uses a drop tower to drip water, very slowly, onto coffee granules. The cold brew prepared using this method is collected in a chamber below. The drip method allows you to extract more flavor from the more finely ground coffee granules, but it’s only for the very patient: it takes around 24 hours to brew coffee using this method.

Things To Look For When Choosing The Best Dark Beans For Your Cold Brew

Look for coffee beans that say something like ‘suitable for cold brewing’ on the label. These will usually be dark or medium roasted coffee beans. You might want to choose a single origin coffee bean rather than a blend, because cold brewing brings out the nuances of single origin bean flavors. Cold brewing is a great way to get to know the taste profile of a single origin bean better.

If you just want to make a great tasting coffee, however, it doesn’t really matter whether you use single origin beans or blends. Arabica beans are some of our favorite beans to make cold brew coffee with, but experiment with different types to see what you like best.

Frequently Asked Questions About Which Roast Is Best For Cold Brew?

Dark roasted beans are ideal for use in cold brew coffees because they result in a stronger, richer flavor that compliments the robust, smooth texture of a cold brew preparation. The subtle taste of lightly roasted beans can become ‘washed out’ by the cold brew method.

The level of roast that you choose to use when preparing cold brew coffee will impact the flavor profile of your cold brew and the acidity of your coffee. Most people find that they prefer a slightly darker roast when preparing cold brew coffee compared to hot brewed coffee, but it’s always important to try different roasts to see what suits your tastes.

Yes, you can use regular ground coffee when preparing cold brew. Because regular ground coffee granules are finer than the granules typically used for cold brew, the best way to prepare cold brew with regular coffee is using the drip method. This takes around 24 hours but ensures your coffee has plenty of time to extract flavor from finer granules.

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