Hopefully you’ve already read Erin’s stellar guide to brewing cold brew iced coffee. If you haven’t, what are you waiting for? Go read it now, I’ll wait. Done? Excellent! Now that you’re familiar with the ins and outs of cold brew coffee making it’s time to start experimenting with different coffee beans.
When looking for your next bean it’s important to keep three things in mind: Location, location location. There are three main coffee producing regions, Central America, Central Africa, and Central Asia-Pacific, but only one of these regions offers beans that I consider perfect for iced and cold brew coffee.
Now before we proceed I should clarify that there are no wrong choices when it comes to bean choice. However after several years of preparing and drinking way to much iced coffee i’ve determined that there is one particular coffee growing region that produces coffee best suited to iced offerings.
Coffee grown and sourced in Africa work best as iced coffee when compared to beans grown in Central America and the Asia Pacific region. I prefer iced coffee that is bright, light, and packed full of fruity and citrusy flavors and African coffee beans fit the bill perfectly.
Ethiopia is often considered the birthplace of coffee and is well regarded for its quality beans. Ethiopian beans are process in two distinct ways: Natural and Washed.
Naturally processed beans are harvested and left to dry until the berry dries and can be easily removed. Washed beans are rinsed in water and the berry flesh is removed before drying. Naturally processed beans tend to taste fairly syrupy and dense and are less appropriate for iced coffee. Washed beans on the other hand, result in a light with a noticeable floral taste and result in a bright and crisp cup of iced coffee.
If you’re keen to try brewing up some iced Ethiopian coffee look out for Ethiopian Sidamo and Ethiopian Yirgacheffe beans. Ethiopian Sidamo beans feature the quintessential floral taste found in African coffee, and the washed process results in a light and bright cup. Essentially a good cup of Sidamo is about as close to lemonade as you can get without squeezing some lemons.
Continuing the fruit theme we have Yirgacheffe. Unlike Sidamo’s citrusy profile, Yirgacheffe is notable for it’s intense berry taste. Love cranberry juice? Try some iced Yirgacheffe.
The other major African coffee growing region is Kenya. Kenyan coffees tend to be juicier and bolder than those found in Ethiopia, and offer a higher degree of complexity. Some Kenyan coffees have pronounced tropical fruit flavours, resulting in a cup of iced coffee that tastes like a bowl of punch.
This is just a small sample of the various African offerings available for iced coffee aficionados. Once you give these a try be sure to take a look at beans from other coffee producing countries such as Rwanda, Angola, and Burundi.