Now that summer is here, coffee lovers everywhere are turning to cold brew. There’s nothing like the taste of a savory mug of cold or iced coffee to wake you up with the early morning sun or recharge on a sultry afternoon. Cold-brew is one of the many things about summer to look forward to all year.
But if you get into the habit of buying your cold brew from a regular coffee shop or the drive-thru of a fast-food restaurant, you’ll be seeing a hole in your pocket—or debit card balance—before too long. When a large cup costs $2 or more, it adds up fast.
As a genuine cold brew lover, one cup a day won’t come close to satisfying your cravings for that caffeine kick.
But even if you take to picking up some premade cold brew at the grocery store, you’re still in for some sticker shock. Even getting your share of the good stuff that way can bust your budget.
That leaves one alternative: Learning a cold brew method and brewing your own!
But the cold brewing process is a bit different from the hot coffee you make at home. There’s a secret to the cold brewing method that all those coffee shops know, and that’s why they have such great-tasting drinks.
The trick to making a great cold brew is choosing the proper roast. Unfortunately, the roasting process affects the beans, and what works for a regular cup of hot joe may make a lousy cup of cold coffee because of the difference in brewing method.
This guide will teach you how to choose the proper roast (pre-ground coffee or whole bean) from the dizzying array of coffees available at the supermarket or the coffee shop shelf. Pick the right one, and you can have the best tasting cold brew right at home!
In this article, we review:
- Dark roast coffee beans
- Medium roast coffee beans
- Light roast coffee beans
- Cold-brew methods
What Is the Best Roast Profile for a Cold Brew?
The answer to this crucial question has some subjectivity involved. But, generally speaking, most people’s personal taste leans toward the taste of dark roast coffees for cold water immersion brewing.
This is because dark roast overpowers the natural bean flavors, so the cold coffee does not taste overwhelming and has minimal bitterness. The consistent, full-bodied flavor profile lasts, making dark roast an excellent option for a large carafe of cold brew concentrate to store in your refrigerator for some quick brew on the go.
Your pocketbook will be glad to know that dark roasts are usually less expensive. Cafes and restaurants also use dark roasts most frequently in their cold brew offerings, so this is the profile you are probably most familiar with when you think of cold and iced coffee.
But a dark roast isn’t the only game in town.
Many people love the unadulterated taste of dark roast coffee beans. But, the strong taste is not for everyone, and roast levels completely change the coffee profile. Lighter roasts provide the flavors they crave. For example, by choosing a medium coffee roast, you can experience some of the bean’s intrinsic taste along with the medium roast flavor.
Therefore, if you like a stronger taste, the best coffee roast for cold brew is the medium; however, If you are new to creating your cold brew, you may find darker roasts give you a better result.
In the end, it “brews” down to personal preference.
What About Lightly Roasted Coffee Beans?
You may have heard that particular coffee enthusiasts swear by coffee beans that are more lightly roasted for their cold brews. The taste may be a little different compared to the cold brew coffee beans you usually enjoy. After all, the dark roasts are what most restaurants and coffee shops serve.
The reason for this disparity has to do with brew methods. Most coffee aficionados who use the cold water method prefer dark roast ground beans. But those who prefer the drip coffee process often favor lightly roasted ground coffee beans.
If you have a cold brew coffee maker, you may want to experiment with lighter roasted beans. They should yield a tasty cup of coffee with exciting flavors.
However, if you use the cold water method, the longer extraction time and dark roast beans produce superior results.
How to Make Smashing Cold Brew Coffee at Home
Now that you know a bit about bean selection for homemade cold brew, you may be ready to try making cold joe at home for the first time.
Different beans have their own unique advantages. But before you start making your homebrew, remember that dark roasts are best used in a cold brew with milk, cream, or sweeteners.
These additives hide the subtle flavors, floral notes, and aromas of medium- and light roast beans. As a result, paying more for the more delicately roasted counterparts would be a poor investment.
However, if you are a coffee drinker who takes your coffee black and loves the coffee beans’ taste and natural aroma, then lightly roasted, high-quality single-origin beans may be the cold brew ingredient for you. Also, use a coarse grind setting on your coffee grinder, as the longer brewing time is best suited for extracting that robust flavor from coarser coffee grounds.
Just be sure to skip the cold water method for lightly roasted beans. You’ll need to use hot water and slow drip for that type of brew to preserve the flavors and aromas.
To imitate the commercial cold brews found at restaurants and coffee bars at home, use darker roasted beans.
We strongly recommend dark and medium roasts for total immersion cold brewing for maximum flavor. When you have become a cold brewmaster, you may consider experimenting with different roasts and brewing methods to bring out the coffee flavor you are seeking.
In time, you might want to switch it up to a lighter roast profile, at least to compare it to your darker roast efforts.
If you get into cold brewing and want to taste higher quality beans brewed right, consider buying yourself a cold drip device. This device allows you to experience the contrast between alternative cold brewing methods with beans of different roast profiles.
Summer can be a great time for cold brew coffee enthusiasts. Cold-brew offers us a break from the hot coffee we’re used to in the morning while still providing that much-needed boost of caffeine. The differences in brewing method mean you need to pay close attention to the types of coffee beans you use. Find the cold brew blend of coffee that is right for you. If you learn to make cold brew at home, you can enjoy many cups of artisan coffee every day without breaking your budget.
Most restaurants and coffee shops serve cold brews made with the dark roast variety of bean. To re-create this experience at home, you’ll want to follow suit and make your coffee using the total immersion method for maximum flavor extraction. If you start to feel adventurous, you can invest in a cold drip tower and create a unique recipe with medium or lightly roasted high-quality beans.