The Best Coffee Roast for Cold Brew

Coffee isn't just for hot brewing. For **less acidity and bitterness**, try cold brew instead.

The best coffee roast to use for cold brew will depend on your taste preference. I can go ahead and say dark roast is the best but if it is not your preferred flavor profile, a dark roast cold brew will not taste good to you.

Understanding coffee roasts is key to knowing which is the best to use if you plan on making a cold brew. You might like the floral notes of light roasts or the caramel and nutty flavors of a medium roast.

I will be talking about the different kinds of coffee roasts you can use to make your cold brew so you can decide which coffee roast fits your taste preference best.

In this article:

  • Why Roast Matters for Cold Brew
  • Different Kinds of Roast You Can Use for Cold Brew
  • Finding Your Perfect Roast

Why Roast Matters for Cold Brew

Cold brewing, as the name implies, is the process of brewing coffee cold or at room temperature. Instead of using a coffee maker, you pour coffee grounds and water into a glass container and let it steep for 12 up to 24 hours in the fridge or on your countertop.

Now, the kind of coffee roast you will use for a cold brew will matter since it can affect the flavor of your coffee. There is no standard rule for what kind of roast you need to use for a cold brew.

I personally use darker roasts for cold brew since we use dark-roasted coffee beans at home. But, you can definitely use whatever roast you want. You may have to experiment with different roasts to see which flavors you like.

Related: Why Your Cold Brew Coffee Tastes Bitter + How to Fix It

Different Kinds of Roast You Can Use for Cold Brew

You don’t always have to use darker roasts for a cold brew but a dark roast is usually recommended along with medium roast. Let’s take a look at the different kinds of roast that you can use for a cold brew.

Light Roast

Light roast coffee beans are roasted for shorter periods and at a lower temperature compared to medium or dark roasts. A light roast is usually roasted between 350 to 400°F and is pulled right after the first crack.

This results in a more acidic coffee since pulling the beans right after the first crack helps preserve the natural acids of the coffee. Light roasts also tend to have some floral notes and even be on the sweet and tangy side when it comes to flavor profile.

If you like the vibrant, floral notes on a light roast but want to avoid too much acidity on a coffee, cold brewing a light roast can lessen the acidity of the coffee. 

The downside to using light roast for cold brew is that it tends to lack the depth of coffee flavor that you can find in darker roast. So, if you want a stronger coffee flavor, a light roast for cold brew may not be for you.

When cold brewing lighter roasts, you can leave it to steep inside the refrigerator for 12 up to 14 hours. If you will be leaving it to brew on your countertop, up to 12 hours can be enough as cold water tends to brew coffee grounds longer.

Medium Roast

Medium-roast coffee beans are roasted at a temperature of 400 to 430°F right until the first crack. This kind of coffee roast has medium acidity compared to a light roast and it has a stronger coffee flavor when used for cold brew.

The flavor profile of medium roasts tends to have caramel and nutty flavors, making it more sweet than light roasts. Most people prefer to use medium roasts for cold brew since it gives a more balanced coffee flavor profile.

If you want rich and sweet coffee flavors, not too light but not too strong, then using medium roast coffee is a great option for cold brew. 

When using medium roast for cold brew, you can steep it in the fridge for 12 up to 24 hours since it has a stronger flavor than light roasts. It won’t dilute the flavor that much.

Dark Roast

Now, I may be biased when I say dark roasts are best when it comes to cold brew but I find that dark roasts have the best depth of flavor when brewed cold.

Dark roasts are known for their rich and intense coffee flavors and are also lower in acidity. This is because the coffee beans are roasted for longer periods at higher temperatures.

Dark roast coffee beans tend to have a darker color with a layer of oil glossing the beans. These beans are roasted at a temperature of 430 up to 450°F and are pulled after the second crack.

Dark roasts have a richer and bolder flavor profile which also translates even when used for cold brew. You can also get a smokey, earthy, and nutty flavor when it comes to dark roasts.

Finding Your Perfect Roast

If you ask me, I'll say dark roasts are the best when it comes to cold brew. However, your taste preference may be different from mine. The best coffee roast for cold brew will depend on what kind of flavor you want in your coffee.

I think the best coffee roast for cold brew is whatever coffee you are using for your regular brew. If you have a preference already, you can try using that for a cold brew and see how you like it.

It really takes a lot of trial and error to get the right flavor based on your taste preference. The quality of the final brew can also depend on the coffee-to-water ratio and how long you will steep the cold brew.

When I first started doing cold brew, I didn’t really measure my coffee and water and just dumped in whatever amount I think will do. It turns out very diluted and watered down. So, the lesson here is whatever roast you use, make sure to measure your coffee and water.

The recommended coffee-to-water ratio for cold brew is 1:8 but, at the end of the day, you can experiment with the measurement. You can use less water if you want a stronger flavor profile.

Related: The Best Coffee Beans for Cold Brew in 2024

Final Thoughts

Have you decided which coffee roast is best for your cold brew? Light roast may lack the depth of flavor while a darker roast may be a little stronger but more mellow. A medium roast cold brew is something in between.

Regardless of what coffee roast you use, the important thing is you enjoy the flavors that a cold brew coffee gives you. You can even add milk to your cup if you want additional flavors!

Are you a light, medium, or dark roast coffee person? Let me know!


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