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The Best Coffee For Iced Coffee (Top 7 Picks & Guide)

In a hurry? Our top choice is the Lifeboost Ethiopian Yirgacheffe Medium Roast Coffee!

Iced coffee is a great summer coffee.

But picking the best coffee for iced coffee is tricky. Cold coffee tastes a lot different from hot coffee.

So, which coffee will taste good iced?

After nearly five years in the coffee industry, I’ve picked up a thing or two about the best iced coffee.

In this article, we’ll cover my top choices. Then I’ll give you a brief guide on what I look for when buying coffee for iced drinks.

Let’s get to it!

Best Coffee For Iced Coffee: Top 7 Picks

Lifeboost Ethiopian Yirgacheffe Medium Roast Coffee 

Lifeboost Ethiopian Yirgacheffe Medium Roast Coffee 

This is maybe my favorite iced coffee ever.

Why?

First of all, I’m partial to naturally processed Ethiopian coffees. Ethiopia is known for coffees with rounded blueberry and blackberry flavors.

And naturally processed means the beans were dried in the fruit. This allows more of the natural flavors to seep into the beans. The natural process results in a more rounded and bolder mouthfeel than a washed coffee.

Plus, it’s a medium roast, which helps keep the brightness and liveliness of the coffee.

It’s also a single-estate coffee. That means that the coffee comes from one farm and isn’t blended with other farms or other types of beans from the same farm. You get a coffee with a crisp, clear, and full flavor profile.

The notes of strawberries and peaches in this coffee make it a great iced coffee choice. The summery vibes are hard to pass up.

The only downside is that this is an expensive coffee. So, it’s probably best to save this coffee for a special occasion.

Pros

  • The medium roast keeps some acidity in your cup, which makes a livelier and brighter iced coffee
  • It’s a single-estate coffee, which means you get all the specific flavors and profiles from one farm instead of a blend
  • Notes of strawberries and peaches keep this coffee light and lively when served over ice 
  • Natural processed coffees like this one have a more rounded and bolder mouthfeel than washed processed coffees

Cons

  • It’s expensive, so it’s not for someone trying to save money on their coffee habit
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Illy Caffe – Whole Bean Decaf Espresso Coffee

Illy Caffe - Whole Bean Decaf Espresso Coffee

As far as decaf iced coffees go, this Illy decaf is a solid option.

It’s on the milder side of decaf espresso roasts, which is why it’s great for iced coffee. You don’t want a super intense dark decaf for serving iced. It will just taste bitter.

Instead, you should look for something that’s mild, balanced, and smooth (like this Illy decaf!).

It’s made with 100% Arabica beans. Arabica beans are tastier and of higher quality than Robusta beans. It’s the industry standard for good coffee.

Plus, this is a blended Arabica coffee. That means that it has a rounded and smooth profile instead of a punchy or intense one.

The only real downside is that this coffee was decaffeinated using chemicals. That leaves you with a slightly chemical aftertaste, and you lose some of the coffee’s natural characteristics.

Pros

  • It’s made with 100% Arabica beans, which are tastier and of higher quality than Robusta beans
  • It’s a blended coffee, which means that it has a smooth and rounded flavor instead of being punchy or dull
  • The flavor is mild, which is good because you don’t want a super intense decaf for serving iced

Cons

  • It’s a chemical decaf coffee, which means you lose some of the natural characteristics and get a slight chemical aftertaste
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Vanilla Macadamia Flavored Coffee, 10% Hawaiian Blend

Vanilla Macadamia Flavored Coffee, 10% Hawaiian Blend

Look, I don’t normally recommend flavored coffee. I think the coffee should usually speak for itself.

However, iced coffee is a different beast. The natural flavor of coffee sometimes gets muddled or drops off entirely. So I think it’s definitely acceptable to look for flavored coffees for serving iced.

This Hawaiian Vanilla Macadamia coffee is a great choice.

The flavoring means you don’t have to use extra syrup or another sweetener to get a nice summery drink. It’s already flavored for you.

Plus, it’s a blend of Hawaiian coffee, and Hawaiian coffee is some of the best in the world. The result is a rounded and really smooth coffee that’s great iced.

Because of the Hawaiian blend and the flavor, it goes well when served with a splash of cream.

Just keep in mind that this isn’t 100% Hawaiian coffee. It’s a blend. So you don’t get the full experience of drinking Hawaiian coffee.

Pros

  • Using flavored coffee for iced drinks means you can cut down on sugar you would otherwise add
  • It’s a blend of Hawaiian coffee, which is some of the best in the world, giving it a unique and rounded flavor
  • The macadamia nut is a subtle flavor that makes a really interesting and fun iced coffee
  • Because of the blend and flavor, this coffee goes great with a little cream when served iced

Cons

  • It’s not 100% Hawaiian coffee, so you don’t get the full spectrum of Hawaiian coffee flavor
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Lifeboost Biotics Cold Brew 

Lifeboost Biotics Cold Brew 

Yes, cold brew and iced coffee are actually different things.

Cold brew is coffee that is brewed with cold or room-temperature water. Iced coffee is coffee brewed hot and chilled later.

However, there is a ton of overlap in how the two drinks are served, which is why I included a blend made specifically for cold brew coffee concentrate.

The truth is you can still brew this coffee hot and serve it cold later. The taste will be very similar.

However, if you’re looking for a great cold brew coffee option, this is it. Lifeboost even adds probiotics to this blend to help people with sensitive stomachs.

Also, it’s a 100% Arabica blend, which means it’s tastier and better than a blend of Arabica and Robusta.

The medium roast of this blend keeps things balanced and drinkable. No flavor or characteristic dominates the cup.

And the coarse grind is perfect for brewing either hot or cold.

The only thing is that this coffee is mild and doesn’t have many unique flavors.

Pros

  • It’s a 100% Arabica blend, which means it’s better and tastier than a blend of Arabica and Robusta
  • Lifeboost adds probiotics to this blend, which allows people with sensitive stomachs to still enjoy the coffee
  • The medium roast keeps this coffee balanced and drinkable, either as iced coffee or cold brew coffee
  • The coarse grind is great for brewing cold or brewing hot to pour over ice

Cons

  • This blend is pretty mild and doesn’t have many interesting or unique flavors
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Peet’s Coffee Major Dickason’s Dark Roast Whole Bean Coffee

Peet’s has been around for a long time. In fact, it’s one of the oldest second-wave coffee roasters in the United States.

And Major Dickason’s Blend is the flagship dark roast. For a good reason.

It’s a bold and full-bodied coffee, which is great for serving iced with cream and sugar. But it’s also a rounded coffee because it’s a blend of coffees from around the world. The blend of coffee from around the world gives it a smooth and balanced profile.

Plus, it’s 100% Arabica beans. That means it tastes better and is of higher quality than a coffee that’s an Arabica and Robusta blend.

Peet’s makes a point to source sustainable coffees.

The only downside is that dark roasts sometimes mask the unique and interesting flavors of the coffee.

Pros

  • The dark roast gives this coffee depth and boldness, which is great for iced coffee with cream and sugar
  • Peet’s has been around for a long time, so you can rest assured that you’re getting quality coffee with every bag
  • It’s a blend of coffees from around the world, which means it has a rounded and full-bodied flavor
  • It’s 100% Arabica coffee, which means it tastes better and is of higher quality than an Arabica/Robusta blend

Cons

  • The dark roast masks some of the unique flavors and characteristics you would get with a lighter roast
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Café Altura Organic Instant Coffee

A general rule in my coffee habit is “no instant coffee.” But sometimes (rarely), I break that rule when it’s worth it.

This Cafe Altura instant coffee is one of those coffees.

Why do I break my rule for this coffee?

Because it’s so versatile.

You can brew this with either cold or hot water. To brew cold, all you do is put a tablespoon of coffee powder into cold water and stir until it dissolves.

Plus, you can even use this in your baking to add coffee flavor to muffins or cakes.

It’s 100% Arabica coffee. Using Arabica beans is tastier than using an Arabica and Robusta blend.

Finally, the medium roast keeps this coffee slightly bright but with enough body that you get a rounded and pleasant iced coffee drink.

The only downside is that instant coffee sometimes comes out a little oily and flat. So I suggest adding a splash of cream to your instant iced coffees!

Pros

  • You can brew this either hot or cold, and that versatility is great for busy mornings
  • You can use this when baking to add coffee flavor to cakes, muffins, or bread
  • It’s 100% instant Arabica coffee, which is tastier than using an Arabica and Robusta blend
  • The medium roast keeps this coffee slightly bright but still with enough body to make a delicious iced drink

Cons

  • Instant iced coffee is always a little bit strange, it always comes out a little oily and flat, and this coffee is no different
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Nespresso VertuoLine Iced Forte Pods

Sometimes the convenience of single-serve pod machines is too great to pass up. That’s why I enjoy Nespresso’s Iced Forte Pods.

They are a dark and bold blend that makes for a really intense and strong iced coffee.

The intensity means that I really only drink these with cream, sugar, and other flavors like vanilla. I’ve even been known to mix these into a coffee cocktail.

The coffee itself is a blend of Indonesian and Colombian coffees. Indonesian coffees have a bold and earthy profile. The Colombian coffee adds some nuance and a brighter mouthfeel.

Nespresso actually designed this coffee specifically for serving cold. That means that this coffee doesn’t taste great when consumed hot. It tastes much smoother and more balanced when poured over ice.

The one downside is that these pods are only compatible with the Nespresso VertuoLine. You can’t use these pods in any other single-serve machine or even the Nespresso OriginalLine.

Pros

  • These pods were designed for iced coffee, which means they actually taste better chilled and served cold
  • The bold and dark flavor make this coffee perfect for adding cream and other flavors without losing the coffee feeling
  • It’s a mix of Indonesian and Colombian Arabica beans, which makes for an interesting and intense iced coffee
  • The single-serve pods make it easy to create different drinks for everyone you’re serving 

Cons

  • These only work with Nespresso VertuoLine machines, so you can’t use them in other pod machines
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How I Make A Decision When Choosing Coffee for Iced Coffee

Choosing the right coffee for making iced drinks is tough.

When coffee is served cold, it loses some of the rounded mouthfeels that you would get in hot coffee. It can be hard to tell when coffee will taste good cold.

But in this section, I’ll walk you through how everything I look for and consider when buying coffee for iced drinks.

I really look for three things:

  • Roast level
  • General flavor profile
  • Brewing and serving method

Let’s dive right in.

What roast level is best for iced coffee?

roasted coffee beans

I’ve said this many times, and I’ll say it again here: roast levels are entirely up to personal taste.

Because there are so many roast types out there, there aren’t many general rules on what to look for in a coffee bean roast for iced coffee.

However, I personally prefer lighter roasts for my iced coffee. I especially prefer light roast coffee beans when I plan on drinking my iced coffee black.

Lighter roasts have a brighter taste to them, which I find pleasant and exciting in iced coffee.

I find that black dark roast iced coffees tend to be bitter and taste a little burnt.

That said, I do think that dark roast iced coffees are better for adding milk, sugar, and extra flavors like vanilla.

Darker roasts don’t get masked by adding those things.

BOTTOM LINE
Any roast level works for iced coffee, and it comes down to personal taste. My advice is to stick to light roast coffee beans for drinking black iced coffee. And stick to darker roasts for iced coffee with cream and sugar.

What flavor profile should you look for?

Like roast level, flavor profiles are up to personal taste.

If you ask me, I like to look for something more rounded and full-bodied than something lighter and brighter.

That’s because when you cool coffee down, you actually lose a lot of the body you would otherwise have in a hot coffee.

To combat that, using a deeper or more rounded flavor profile for your iced coffee is a good idea. You’ll find that more of the unique characteristics actually make it into your cup.

Each country and region has its own flavor characteristics and profiles. I recommend starting with a region you know you enjoy and picking coffees that have similar tasting notes.

BOTTOM LINE
When coffee cools down, it loses deeper notes. So, I generally recommend a more rounded and deeper flavor profile for iced coffee. I am partial to African coffees for iced drinks for their pink lemonade, blueberry, and blackberry notes.

How are you going to brew your iced coffee?

preparing iced coffee

Look, it has to be said that there’s a distinct difference between iced coffee and cold brew.

Iced coffee is brewed hot and poured over ice, while the cold brew is brewed with cold or room-temperature water.

The result is two very similar but also unique drinks.

Cold brew takes a long time to steep. To do it well, it usually takes 12-18 hours.

With iced coffee, you can brew however you normally would. Be that French Press or drip coffee maker, it all can make iced coffee.

The brewing method doesn’t change the coffee too much when making iced coffee. That’s because the brewing itself doesn’t change, just what happens after.

So, my recommendation is to stick with what you know you enjoy. If you normally brew with a V60 and have a good recipe dialed in, stick with it.

If you prefer AeroPress coffee, then stick with that.

I would suggest playing around with your iced coffee recipe a little bit. I tend to brew a little bit stronger if I plan on chilling my coffee for iced drinks.

IN A NUTSHELL
You can brew however you normally would brew. The difference is what happens after you’re finished brewing. Brewing stronger than you normally would help retain a lot of the flavors.

FAQ

Let’s quickly answer a few last-minute burning questions about iced coffee.

Can you use regular coffee as iced coffee?

Absolutely! In fact, most iced coffee is made with regular ground coffee.

What does Starbucks use for iced coffee?

Starbucks actually has its Terraza Blend for its iced coffees. But it is brewed at double strength to retain a lot of the body and flavors.

How do baristas make iced coffee?

Can you use regular coffee as iced coffee?

Absolutely! In fact, most iced coffee is made with regular ground coffee.

What does Starbucks use for iced coffee?

Starbucks actually has its Terraza Blend for its iced coffees. But it is brewed at double strength to retain a lot of the body and flavors.

My Final Verdict

I’m sticking with Lifeboost Ethiopian Yirgacheffe Medium Roast Coffee as my top choice for a perfect iced coffee.

It’s a medium roast that’s a nice balance between body and brightness. It’s lively without being too intense.

Plus, it’s a single-estate coffee. So you get the specific flavor profile from one farm instead of a blend.

And it has notes of strawberries and peaches, which make a great summer iced coffee. It tastes great with or without cream and sugar.

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Craig Carey
Craig spent a year as a barista in Denver's specialty coffee world. He spends his days rock climbing, cycling, drinking espresso, and hanging around the Rocky Mountains. He still lives in Colorado.