If you’re anything like us, you enjoy the refreshing and bold taste of iced coffee regardless of the weather outside. We drink it in the summer, in the winter, and every month in between! We’ve spent a lot of time perfecting our iced coffee recipe, and we found that, above everything else, choosing a coffee that’s naturally low in acidity with bold and decadent flavors will complement the dark, sultry flavor profile that most people expect from their iced coffee. Generally, certain regions — like Colombia or Indonesia — will be best over ice.
If you’re on the hunt for great iced coffee at home, you may be overwhelmed by the number of options designed specifically for iced coffee or cold brew. Have no fear! We put together these reviews and our buyer’s guide to simplify the process and help you find the ideal coffee to satisfy your iced coffee obsession. Let’s dive in!
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
|Best Overall||Tiny Footprint Coffee Organic Cold Brew||CHECK PRICE|
|Best Value||Bizzy Organic Cold Brew Coffee||CHECK PRICE|
|Premium Choice||Waka Coffee Quality Instant Coffee||CHECK PRICE|
|Stone Street Coffee Cold Brew Reserve||CHECK PRICE|
|Crazy Cups Flavored Ground Coffee||CHECK PRICE|
The Best Coffee for Iced Coffee – Reviews 2020
1. Tiny Footprint Coffee Organic Cold Brew – Best Overall
This Tiny Footprint Coffee Organic Cold Brew is our all-around favorite for its excellent quality and delicious flavor profile. We get strong, robust notes of chocolate and toffee that are perfect for making flavorful iced coffee that won’t get weakened easily by melting ice. The beans are from Ethiopia, and both light and dark roasts are blended together for a wonderfully balanced, low-acidity coffee that maintains its vast complexity even over ice.
The coffee is organic and shade-grown, which means it’s easy on the environment. The company plants trees for every pound sold to create a carbon-negative impact as well, so you can feel good about drinking this every morning. This coffee is made from 100% arabica beans, so you won’t get the bitter or burnt flavors from robusta beans in your iced coffee. This coffee only comes in 1-pound quantities, so it will get depleted quickly for heavy coffee drinkers and those who serve multiple people daily. It was delivered fresh and had no stale flavors, and it bloomed nicely, which is an indication that the coffee was roasted recently and hasn’t lost its taste or complexity. It’s very affordable, especially given the quality.
All in all, we think this is the best coffee for iced coffee available this year.
2. Bizzy Organic Cold Brew Coffee – Best Value
This Bizzy Organic Cold Brew Coffee comes from multiple regions in South America, and the beans naturally have a beautiful flavor profile that is perfectly suited for cold brew. It delivers forward notes of caramel, hazelnut, and cocoa, as well as a light fruitiness that provides flavorful iced coffee. The complexity will be present even after some of your ice has melted, and the coffee naturally lacks the acidity that can give your cold brew or iced coffee a sour taste. This coffee is made from 100% arabica beans, so you won’t get the overwhelming bitter or burnt notes that are common from robusta beans.
It only comes in small quantities, so it’s best suited for single coffee drinkers who have just a cup or two a day. It was delivered fresh and had no stale flavors. It’s certified organic and ethically sourced, but it isn’t as sustainably produced as our number one pick. The fact that it’s not as environmentally friendly kept this coffee out of our top spot, but especially given the price, we think this is the best coffee for iced coffee for the money.
3. Waka Coffee Quality Instant Coffee – Premium Choice
This Waka Coffee Quality Instant Coffee is the first instant coffee option on our list, and we were as surprised as you to see it so high up in our rankings! This coffee mixes directly into cold water and dissolves very easily, so preparation couldn’t be simpler or faster, and it’s great for travel. The flavor is delicious and robust, and we get tasty notes of dark chocolate and toffee, perfect for making iced coffee that’s full of flavor. The coffee is made from 100% arabica beans, which we have found is unusual for instant coffee. There are no robusta beans to add bitterness or burnt flavors to your cup, and the coffee tastes smooth and complex.
It has low acidity, which is perfect for iced coffee, and you won’t get the acidity that comes from brewing your coffee with hot water before you add the ice. It only comes in small quantities, so you will likely go through this coffee quickly. This isn’t organic or shade-grown, so these factors, along with the high price, kept it out of our top two choices. However, if you’re looking for convenience and don’t want to sacrifice taste, look no further!
4. Stone Street Coffee Cold Brew Reserve
This Stone Street Coffee Cold Brew Reserve comes from Colombia and boasts deep flavors of chocolate, caramel, and roasted nuts. These bold and robust tasting notes make it ideal for full-flavor iced coffee, as they won’t get diluted easily with melting ice. It’s roasted to a dark roast profile, which brings smoothness and a lack of acidity to your glass. It is less complex than previous picks, but it’s still well balanced and very enjoyable. It’s made of 100% arabica beans, so the coffee lacks the bitterness and often overbearing burnt flavor that comes with the inclusion of robusta beans.
It’s not organic or shade-grown, and it isn’t as sustainably produced as some of our previous options. It comes in large quantities, making it ideal for homes with multiple coffee drinkers, but it is a bit more expensive than many other options. It was delivered fresh and bloomed nicely, so we’re confident that it was received not too long after it was roasted. The freshness very likely contributed to the fact that the iced coffee we made with this was full of robust flavor.
5. Crazy Cups Flavored Ground Coffee
This Crazy Cups Flavored Ground Coffee isn’t labeled with the bean origin, but it is roasted to a medium roast that we feel isn’t ideal for iced coffee. We do get some cocoa notes in our glass, but many of the less robust flavors are muted when ice is added. We’d love to see a darker roast profile on these beans to bring out the more decadent flavors that most people associate with full-flavored iced coffee. This coffee is made from 100% arabica beans, so it doesn’t have the bitter and burnt flavors associated with robusta coffee.
It’s the first and only on our list that is flavored, and while some people may enjoy hazelnut coffee, we found that the flavor tasted somewhat artificial and wasn’t very enticing. This coffee only comes in very small quantities, so it’s not ideal for heavy coffee drinkers or in homes with multiple people who drink coffee daily. It is very affordable, even on a per-pound basis. Still, given the off-flavors produced by the hazelnut flavor, we’d recommend choosing a different option to satisfy your cold brew coffee addiction.
6. City Girl Cold Press Coffee Blend
This City Girl Cold Press Coffee Blend isn’t labeled with the bean origin, but it has a medium roast profile that seems to suit the origin or blend nicely. However, we feel it’s far too light for an iced coffee, and many of the flavors are muted and easily weakened by melting ice. A darker roast is better suited for iced coffee and would stand up to dilution much better. This coffee is not 100% arabica, and we did get some acidity and bitterness in our glass that we believe was a result of robusta beans being mixed in. The acidity doesn’t suit iced coffee well and detracts further from desirable flavors like cocoa in these beans.
It’s sustainably sourced coffee from a socially conscious company, so you will feel good about drinking it every morning. This coffee only comes in very small quantities, so it’s not the best option for heavy coffee drinkers or homes with multiple people who drink coffee daily. It’s one of the most expensive coffees on a per-pound basis on our list, and especially given that the roast and flavors aren’t ideal for iced coffee, we’d recommend choosing a different option.
As you can see, there’s a lot more that goes into choosing the perfect coffee for iced coffee than you may initially think! Whether you choose one of the options above or you continue your search elsewhere, make sure you keep the below factors in mind, as they can have a big impact on your coffee experience.
One of the most important things to consider when choosing a coffee for making iced coffee is the roast profile. Iced coffee is going to be…well, iced! When you add ice to your freshly brewed coffee, some of it will melt, which will instantly dilute your coffee.
To combat muted flavors and all-around weak iced coffee, you should generally choose a coffee that has a medium-dark or dark roast profile, as longer roasting times usually lead to stronger, bolder, and more decadent flavors like chocolate and toffee. These tasting notes are easy to pick up, and they’ll stand out to you even if your coffee does get diluted by melting ice.
Since you’re looking for a darker roast profile, you’ll also want to keep complexity in mind. The longer you roast coffee, the more you highlight the darker flavors like chocolate and hide the fruity flavors naturally found in coffee beans. While a dark roast will help ensure your iced coffee doesn’t get too diluted in flavor, it also typically means it won’t have lighter, fruitier flavors to add some complexity.
You can get around this, however! Some companies expertly blend light and dark roasts together to maintain full flavor while adding some fruity notes for a delicious array of tantalizing flavors.
Next, you’ll want to consider the acidity of your coffee. Iced coffee generally isn’t great with the brightness or high acidity that can be delightful in a hot cup of coffee, so you’ll want to choose beans with a relatively low amount of acidity.
Finding beans like this isn’t a science, but usually beans from certain regions, like Colombia or Ethiopia, will cater more toward the bolder and more decadent flavor profile more than others like Tanzania, which is known for its acidity.
You may know that there are four types of coffee beans, of which two are, by far, the most prevalent: arabica and robusta. However, you may not know that robusta beans are known for adding bitter and burnt flavors to your coffee. These flavors may be suitable and even desirable in hot coffee or espresso, but most people want their iced coffee to be refreshing and smooth.
On the other hand, arabica beans are known for being smooth and rich in flavor. Choosing a coffee that’s made of 100% arabica beans will help ensure your iced coffee is as smooth and easy to drink as you expect it to be.
Next, you’ll want to make sure you select a coffee that is delivered fresh. Many larger coffee companies sell beans that were roasted weeks or even months ago because coffee technically has a very long shelf life. However, coffee beans begin losing flavor and complexity immediately after being roasted, so choosing a coffee that was roasted relatively close to when you order will lead to more flavorful coffee that’s less likely to get diluted or heavily weakened when you pour it over ice.
As with all coffee purchases, sustainability is an important factor to consider. Organic coffee and shade-grown coffee has the lowest impact on the environment, and some companies go above and beyond to give back to the environment by planting trees or donating a portion of sales to the rehabilitation of rainforests or other endangered regions.
Sustainability won’t affect the taste of your coffee. Still, you’ll certainly feel better drinking coffee every morning that you know has a positive effect on the environment and the people that grow and process your coffee.
Cost & Quantity
Lastly, you should carefully consider the cost and quantity of the beans or grounds you’ll be buying. Many coffees appear cheaper but are actually more expensive because they come in smaller quantities. Make sure you do the math to compare coffees at their per-pound price and not simply at their sale price.
Quantity is less important than quality for most iced coffee lovers, but it should still be considered! Some coffees only come in 10-ounce bags, while others come in bags that contain multiple pounds of coffee. If you or others in your family drink a lot of coffee, you may want to choose a coffee that comes in large volumes so that you don’t have to reorder constantly. Conversely, if you only serve yourself a cup or two of coffee a day, a small quantity will probably suit you better, as larger volumes would just end up sitting in your cabinet and losing freshness and flavor.
Phew, that was a lot of information! We’re sure you see by now that making the perfect glass of iced coffee is far more involved than pouring the coffee you normally make over ice. Iced coffee comes with its own requirements and caveats, so a lot of care and research should go into the coffee you choose to make into iced coffee. Hopefully, these reviews, along with our buyer’s guide, have helped you narrow down the many options available and choose a coffee that will suit your iced-coffee preferences perfectly.
Our top pick for taste, the ability to stand up to dilution by ice, and a bold, decadent flavor profile is Tiny Footprint Coffee Organic Cold Brew. It’s delicious and full of flavor, and the blended coffee beans lead to a complex and well-balanced iced coffee. If you’re looking for a budget-friendly option but don’t want to compromise on quality, we strongly recommend Bizzy Organic Cold Brew Coffee. It delivers a delicious cold brew while being kind to your wallet!
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Featured Image Credit By: CC0 Public Domain, Pikist
Table of Contents
- A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
- The Best Coffee for Iced Coffee – Reviews 2020
- Buyer’s Guide