To identify the best-tasting cold brew coffee, we have been trying many dozens of different options. Our goal is to help you find the best coffee beans, no matter what you’re looking for.
For traditional lovers of java, we have flavorful, fragrant options that will satisfy your palate while waking you up.
However, we also have choices for budget buyers, bulk buyers, and even people who are worried about the environment. Coffee is for everyone, and so is this guide. Keep reading for our cold brew coffee reviews!
A Quick Summary of our Favorites for 2020
10 Best Cold Brew Coffee Brands
1. Lifeboost Light Roast – Best Overall
Our pick for the best cold brew coffee beans is a specialty light roast from Lifeboost. Though you can prepare these coffee beans any way you like, they have been made to be low in acidity and bitterness, making them very complementary to the process of the cold brew.
In addition to being a delicate, mild blend that is perfect for the discerning palate, it’s also a very natural coffee. The coffee beans are grown organically and then harvested by workers who are paid fair wages. This coffee is also free of pesticides and mycotoxins.
Like most Fair Trade coffees, these beans are on the pricier side. It’s also worth keeping in mind that since this is a whole bean coffee, you won’t get much use out of it unless you have a grinder.
2. Volcanica Cold Brew — Best Ground Coffee Pick
Do you prefer to buy your coffee pre-ground? We suggest the Volcanica Cold Brew, which is available in a coarse French press grind, along with whole bean and few other grind sizes. This blend, which is made specifically for cold brew, combines bold Sumatra and low-acid Arabica beans. The result? A bold, balanced brew that packs an enormous amount of flavor into every cup.
It’s also just a neat company that roasts your beans on demand, ensuring the best possible flavor. The coffee is great for cold brewing because the process naturally mitigates some of the bitterness that comes with the territory of this strong a roast.
Volcanica is a bit pricey, which isn’t surprising for a gourmet coffee company. This isn’t a single-origin coffee, but the blend suits cold brew very well.
3. Starbucks VIA Italian Coffee — Top Decaf Pick
Most people know and love Starbucks. The VIA Decaf Italian Coffee is a cold brew packet system that comes from one of the most recognizable coffee makers of all time. The coffee comes in individually wrapped packages that can be brewed instantly by being steeped in water.
It’s a decaf coffee that packs lots of tasty and familiar flavor into each serving. However, like any instant style coffee, it won’t quite pass for the real thing. Though the flavor itself is impressive, the coffee lacks the full-bodied richness of something that has been brewed the traditional way.
4. Nitro Cold Brew Sugar-Free Coffee
The Nitro Cold Brew is something of a departure from the other options on our list. It’s distinguished for the fact that it’s already been brewed for you. These canned coffees serve as a great way to enjoy a fast pick-me-up when you’re on the go.
It’s also a very diet-friendly product. The coffee is sugar-free, and certified as compatible with both keto and paleo diets.
The package comes with twelve cans. Due to the convenience factor of having the coffee prepared for you, the cost is much more significant than that of buying ground coffee. If you are a budget buyer, this may be a disqualifying attribute.
Some people also report that the metal can gives the coffee a peculiar flavor, though this is, of course, a subjective critique.
5. AmazonFresh Colombia Ground Coffee
Cold or hot, it’s difficult to beat the enticing value offering of any AmazonFresh coffee. This affordable but high-quality coffee is a great way to get a delicious drink at a great price.
The Colombia Ground Coffee option here is a three-pack, which further enhances the value offering. Though these grounds are not specifically made for cold brewing, they will work as long as you steep for a shorter time. As a Colombian-style bean, the flavor is very bold and rich.
It may not be quite as flavorful as some of the higher-end options on our list, but the value more than makes up for any shortcomings.
6. Dunkin’ Donuts Original Blend
Dunkin’ Donuts is one of the most popular makers of coffee in the United States. The Original Blend we have here is a flavorful, familiar coffee that tastes much like what you will find at the shop itself. It’s affordable, full-bodied, and perfect for anyone who wants to bring the taste of a bakery right to their kitchen.
As a medium roast, the flavors are a bit more subtle. With a cold brew, they come across as very mellow and refreshing. These grounds are somewhat more acidic than the other options on our list, but this issue will be mitigated slightly by the cold brew process.
7. Caribou Coffee Caribou Blend
Caribou Coffee makes high-quality coffee at very moderate prices. The Caribou Medium Roast blend is of a subtler, low-key variety. The flavor profile is very moderate and smooth.
Buyers concerned with the environment will also be pleased. This is a company that prioritizes sustainability. It harvests and processes beans in a way that is stable for the environment. In fact, as a budget-friendly coffee, this may well be one of the most affordable sustainable choices on the market.
The freshness factor is slightly underwhelming. Depending on the luck of your draw, the chances are fairly decent that you’ll get a bag of beans that are at least slightly stale. However, if you want ethical coffee at a very competitive price, there’s no beating Caribou.
8. High Brew Cold Brew Coffee
Here we have another set of cold brew coffee cans. High Brew’s simple black coffees are convenient, moderately priced, and delicious. The cold brewing process has stripped the beans of their bitterness. What remains is a smooth, mellow drink that doesn’t overwhelm the taste buds.
However, not everything about this coffee is mellow. The caffeine count is nearly twice that of average coffees. If you really need a pick-me-up, this feature may actually hold some appeal, but we found the drink to be a little overwhelming in that regard.
9. Bizzy Organic Cold Brew Coffee
Bizzy’s Organic Cold Brew Coffee has been ground coarsely, making it optimal for the cold brew method. The grounds are low-key and feature a sweet undertone that enhances the overall drinking experience.
What’s more, the company puts a keen emphasis on ethics. The beans are ethically sourced so that the workers are paid fair wages, and the entire process has as small an impact on the environment as possible.
Being organic and ethically sourced, the coffee is on the pricier side. We also found that the bag tears very easily, which can lead to major freshness concerns.
10. Peet’s Coffee Major Dickason’s Blend
We close the list with a bold dark roast. The Major Dickason’s Blend is one of the most popular options that Peet’s makes, and for good reason. There is a big emphasis placed on freshness with this coffee.
The beans are harvested, roasted, and shipped off in as quick a time frame as possible. This is to ensure that each bag is maximally fresh. The caffeine count with these grounds is a little higher than average. This might be a bit overwhelming for drinkers who would like something mellow.
Several customers have also reported receiving very old bags, which contradicts the company’s promise to provide fresh coffee to all its customers.
Here are a few buying considerations that should make it as easy as possible for you to pick the perfect cold brew coffee grounds.
Can Any Kind of Coffee Be Used for Cold Brew?
Yes! Some coffees are specifically marketed for cold brewers and may benefit more from this method of making coffee. However, any coffee beans are compatible with the cold brew process. Done correctly, the cold brew process results in sweet, mellow flavors, no matter which coffee beans you use.
Cold brew coffees are less bitter and acidic than java steeped in hot water, so choose your favorite beans and get right down to it!
There are many different styles of coffee out there, but of the endless variations, there are three main roasting styles for you to be aware of: light roast, medium roast, and dark roast.
Any of the three styles can be used seamlessly with the cold brew method. However, to choose the right roast for your own personal preferences, there are a couple of quick facts to keep in mind about each.
For instance, light roast coffee tends to be subtle and low-key in taste. For this reason, many flavored coffees are lightly roasted so as to better bring out the taste of the hazelnut, highlander grog, and so on. However, despite tasting more delicate, light roast blends are usually higher in caffeine and acidity, which is something drinkers with delicate stomachs will need to be on the lookout for.
Medium roast is a happy blend between the two styles. Though not confronting the way a potently dark roast might be, it does have a boldness to it that’s not seen in the lighter varieties. Dark roast is a more full-bodied and flavorful coffee. Some like the powerful taste, while others find it to be on the bitter side.
There is no right or wrong way to choose your roast style. You’ve just got to experiment and decide for yourself which style suits you.
Whole Bean or Grounds
Coffee connoisseurs usually tend to lean towards whole bean coffee for a few reasons. For one thing, going with this style allows them to grind the beans down to the coarseness of their choosing. This is especially important for cold brew, where you want to use coarsely-ground beans to avoid over-extraction.
RELATED READ: How fine should you grind? The Ultimate Grind Size Chart
Whole bean coffees are also thought to be fresher. Coffee is at its best immediately after roasting. Once it’s ground up, it begins to lose freshness fairly rapidly. You can maximize the freshness factor by grinding and then immediately using your beans.
However, there is also the matter of convenience. If it’s 6 AM and you’re trying to get to work on time, chances are you don’t want to mess around with a coffee grinder. It’s all a matter of choosing the method most suitable for your lifestyle.
If you feel overwhelmed by our cold brew coffee reviews, we get it. With all the products out there, narrowing the options down to one can be a little challenging.
There are a couple of easy recommendations we can provide that might simplify your choice a little bit. Our top choice, the Lifeboost Light Roast, is perfect for buyers who emphasize quality. If you prefer pre-ground beans, Volcanica’s Cold Brew comes in a convenient coarse grind. Meanwhile, the AmazonFresh Colombia Ground Coffee will be a good choice for people who want a delicious but affordable coffee.
Missing some key equipment? Take a look at our guide to the best cold brew coffee makers of 2020.
Featured image credit: MissSuki, Pixabay
Table of Contents
- A Quick Summary of our Favorites for 2020
- 10 Best Cold Brew Coffee Brands
- 1. Lifeboost Light Roast – Best Overall
- 2. Volcanica Cold Brew — Best Ground Coffee Pick
- 3. Starbucks VIA Italian Coffee — Top Decaf Pick
- 4. Nitro Cold Brew Sugar-Free Coffee
- 5. AmazonFresh Colombia Ground Coffee
- 6. Dunkin’ Donuts Original Blend
- 7. Caribou Coffee Caribou Blend
- 8. High Brew Cold Brew Coffee
- 9. Bizzy Organic Cold Brew Coffee
- 10. Peet’s Coffee Major Dickason’s Blend
- Buyer’s Guide