preferred beans for cold brewed coffee
March 27, 2012 2:54 PM   Subscribe

Are there coffee beans specifically made for cold brewing/extraction? are certain roasts/geographies better for cold brewing? Or, is it really just trial and error and finding what you personally like?

I know about Starbucks iced coffee blend but since they suggest brewing hot and pouring over ice, I know they aren't the ones to go to.

If it matters, my cold brewing method is to take about a cup to a cup and half of course grounds, then water to fill up a two quart pitcher. I let it sit for 12-18 hours and then I strain. I don't make something super concentrated then add it 1:1 with water - I just fill a glass half with ice, fill it up with coffee, and then add a teaspoon of half and half.
posted by nadawi to Food & Drink (11 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
the only thing I've found is that cold-brewed coffee tends to be smoother and less bitter than the same beans + hot water, so I'll drink roasts cold-brewed that I wouldn't prefer hot. I make it really strong and dilute to taste.
posted by dubold at 3:05 PM on March 27, 2012

There really isn't a right answer to this question as it's all going to boil down to preference.

Lots of single-origin African coffees have the characteristics that I like in a cold press. I prefer coffees with higher acidity and berry or citrus undertones when I make cold presses. I like to stay away from earthy or cocoa notes because they tend to make iced coffee too heavy and seemingly not as refreshing. Ethiopian, Kenyan and Tanzanian coffees usually do the trick. If you're in a hurry to try it out, Starbucks' Kenya is pretty good and easy to find, but I also recommend trying some more exotic blends from various gourmet roasters.
posted by erstwhile at 3:25 PM on March 27, 2012

Yirgacheffe make for a good iced coffee.
posted by jade east at 3:26 PM on March 27, 2012

Yep, I think this is pretty much up to personal preference. Or maybe my palate is just unrefined. My favorite coffee, for everything but ESPECIALLY for cold-brewing, is Lavazza.
posted by scarykarrey at 3:29 PM on March 27, 2012

Response by poster: When I'm lazy and don't care, I usually go for starbuck's kenya or sumatra, so I guess that's where I lean. I suppose I'll start with those varieties from better companies.
posted by nadawi at 3:40 PM on March 27, 2012

It's pretty much personal taste, yes. Freshness of the roast is super super important, so if you can find a local roaster (this seems less likely in OK), that helps a lot. Failing that, call or check out the websites of small roasteries like Dogwood and decide if it's worth it to you to have really good coffee beans shipped to you.

Also remember that evenness and precision of the grind are of paramount importance - if you're trying to make coffee hot or cold with a blade grinder, you'll get over and under-extraction, both of which make for bad taste.
posted by kavasa at 3:40 PM on March 27, 2012

I cold brew whatever I've been drinking hot. I usually grind a bit finer and put the coffee and water in a large mason jar which is kept in the fridge. I filter when I'm pouring it into a glass. I tend to make a stronger brew so that when I add ice and cream, I still have strong coffee.
posted by quince at 3:51 PM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

I use French Market or Trader Joe's coffee with chicory. Cold-brewed in the "long soak then filter" style. The chicory just gives it something, and if you don't like hot coffee with chicory you should try one round cold because it's not really the same.
posted by Lyn Never at 4:20 PM on March 27, 2012

Clearly I need to finish rehabbing my house and get back into the job market because I'm looking at you're brewing method and reflexively working up a DOE protocol.

If I were planning such a protocol (but I'm not - wrestles right arm into lap a la Dr. Strangelove) I'd look at roast, grind, extraction time and brewing temperature (starting with water from the hot tap, the cold tap and in the refrigerator as per quince's method) and then play with different brands.

And now I'm sad that I've been commingling Dr. Strangelove and Failsafe in my head for all these years because a comment about the whistling sound you just heard being the ambassador's percolator melting would be just the thing. Sigh.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 5:42 PM on March 27, 2012

I know the coffee house that roasts its own beans by me where i live and the coffee house by where i work just make there coffee stronger. The coffee house that roasts its own beans does not roast them any different for the iced coffee .

You should see if you can find a coffee house that roasts its own beans. You can try the different beans and see which one you like.

The one by me is called roast. every month they get beans in from all over the world. one month it will be maui mokka the next el salvador peaberry. It allows you to find which ones you like.

Both also tripple filter there water before it goes into their coffee.
posted by majortom1981 at 9:52 AM on March 28, 2012

Yep, it's personal preference.

When I first got curious about cold-brewing at home I asked the barista at Blue Bottle what beans they used, and she said they use a blend of their existing beans. After over two years of doing this weekly, I've found I really like blends, too; while I've made some amazing cold-brew with single-origins (I really like Central & South American beans), my favorites have always come from a blend, like the Oscillations or Cherry Chapstick from De La Paz, Barefoot's Hopscotch, or Stereo from Heart. These are all espresso blends, too--don't overlook espresso beans for cold-brewing.

I've also noticed I tend to like beans with tasting notes that say things like "caramel" or "brown sugar" or "chocolate," because I like that heavy, earthy flavor that erstwhile mentions above, and don't like the more acidic, citrusy flavors in my iced coffee. So that's something to consider: do you prefer a richer brew, or something more refreshing?

I'll echo what someone else has said about freshness. It's very important that the beans be relatively fresh. I've done batches of cold-brew from the same bag about a week apart, and the first was fantastic and the second was so bad my boyfriend spit it out.
posted by rhiannonstone at 12:44 PM on March 28, 2012

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