Cold brew coffee has exploded in popularity over the last few years. The smooth, low-acid coffee is appealing to many coffee drinkers. Starbucks entered the cold brew game in 2015, and their cold brew can now be found in just about every Starbucks location.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Yes, Starbucks cold brew is good. It has a smooth, chocolatey flavor. It’s less acidic than regular iced coffee. The downsides are it’s on the sweeter side, and more expensive than regular iced coffee.

In this approximately 3000 word guide, we’ll take an in-depth look at Starbucks’ cold brew coffee. We’ll cover what cold brew is, how Starbucks makes their cold brew, the flavor profile, the pros and cons of the Starbucks cold brew, and alternatives to consider.

What is Cold Brew Coffee?

Cold brew coffee is a unique brewing method that involves steeping coffee grounds in cold water for an extended period of time, typically between 12 to 24 hours. Unlike traditional brewing methods that use hot water to extract flavors quickly, cold brew relies on time to slowly extract the coffee’s flavors and create a smooth and less acidic beverage.

The result is a refreshing and delicious coffee concentrate that can be enjoyed on its own or mixed with water or milk to create a variety of cold coffee beverages.

Cold Brew Brewing Process

The cold brew brewing process is quite simple. Coarse coffee grounds are combined with cold water in a container, such as a mason jar or a French press. The mixture is then left to steep at room temperature or in the refrigerator for several hours.

The longer the steeping time, the stronger the cold brew will be. Once the desired steeping time is reached, the mixture is strained to remove the grounds, leaving behind a concentrated coffee liquid that can be diluted and enjoyed.

Cold brew is known for its simplicity and versatility. It can be made using various coffee beans and roasts, allowing for a wide range of flavor profiles. Additionally, the cold brew concentrate can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks, making it a convenient option for those who prefer to have their coffee ready to go.

Cold Brew Coffee Flavor

One of the main reasons why cold brew coffee has gained popularity is its unique flavor profile. Due to the extended steeping time, cold brew coffee tends to have a smoother and less acidic taste compared to traditional hot brewed coffee.

The slower extraction process also allows for the preservation of the coffee’s natural sweetness, resulting in a naturally sweet and rich flavor.

The lower acidity of cold brew makes it a great choice for individuals with sensitive stomachs or acid reflux issues. The smoother taste also allows for the subtle nuances of the coffee beans to shine through, providing a more pronounced flavor experience.

It’s important to note that while cold brew coffee is typically less acidic, it can still contain caffeine similar to hot brewed coffee. However, due to its concentrated nature, cold brew is often diluted with water or milk before consumption, resulting in a beverage with a lower caffeine content compared to a regular cup of hot coffee.

How Does Starbucks Make Their Cold Brew?

Starbucks Cold Brew Ingredients

Starbucks takes great care in selecting the ingredients for their cold brew to ensure a high-quality and flavorful beverage. The two main ingredients used in Starbucks Cold Brew are coffee and water. However, unlike traditional hot brewed coffee, the coffee grounds used in cold brew are coarsely ground to achieve the perfect extraction.

This allows the coffee to steep slowly and extract the flavors.

Starbucks sources their coffee beans from various regions around the world, ensuring a diverse range of flavors. The beans are carefully roasted to enhance their unique characteristics before being ground for the cold brewing process.

In addition to coffee and water, Starbucks may also add a touch of sweetness to their cold brew. This can be done by incorporating simple syrup or flavored syrups such as vanilla or caramel, giving customers the option to customize their drink to their liking.

Starbucks Cold Brew Steeping Process

The process of making Starbucks Cold Brew involves steeping coffee grounds in cold water for an extended period of time. This slow and gentle extraction method allows for a smoother and less acidic flavor profile compared to traditional hot brewed coffee.

Starbucks Cold Brew is made in large batches using a specially designed brewing system. The coffee grounds are steeped in cold water for anywhere between 12 to 24 hours, depending on the desired flavor intensity.

This lengthy steeping process allows the flavors to fully develop and results in a rich and full-bodied cold brew.

Once the steeping process is complete, the coffee grounds are filtered out, leaving behind a concentrated cold brew coffee. This concentrate is then diluted with water or milk, depending on the customer’s preference, to create the final beverage.

It’s worth noting that the steeping process is done in a temperature-controlled environment to maintain consistency and ensure the best possible flavor. This attention to detail is what sets Starbucks Cold Brew apart from other iced coffee options.

If you’re interested in learning more about the specifics of Starbucks’ cold brew process, you can visit their official website here.

Starbucks Cold Brew Flavor Profile

When it comes to flavor, Starbucks Cold Brew is a true delight for coffee enthusiasts. Its unique brewing process allows for a smooth and low acidity taste, making it a great option for those with sensitive stomachs or those who prefer a more mellow coffee experience.

Unlike traditional hot brewed coffee, the cold brewing method extracts the coffee’s rich flavors without the bitterness that can sometimes accompany hot brewing.

Smooth and Low Acidity

The cold brewing process used by Starbucks for their Cold Brew results in a coffee that is remarkably smooth and has a lower acidity compared to other brewing methods. This makes it an excellent choice for individuals who want to savor their coffee without any harsh or sour aftertaste.

The slower extraction process eliminates much of the acidity, resulting in a more balanced and mellow cup of coffee.

Chocolate and Caramel Notes

One of the highlights of Starbucks Cold Brew is the delightful flavor profile it offers. With its carefully selected beans and unique brewing process, this cold brew has distinct notes of chocolate and caramel.

These flavors add depth and richness to the overall taste, making each sip a delightful experience.


Starbucks Cold Brew also has a natural sweetness that sets it apart from other coffee options. The slow brewing process extracts the coffee’s natural sugars, resulting in a subtly sweet taste that doesn’t require added sugar or sweeteners.

This makes it a healthier option for those looking to reduce their sugar intake without compromising on flavor.

The Pros of Starbucks Cold Brew

Starbucks Cold Brew has gained popularity among coffee lovers for several reasons. Here are some of the pros of choosing Starbucks Cold Brew:

Smooth Flavor

One of the main advantages of Starbucks Cold Brew is its smooth flavor. The coffee is brewed with cold water over an extended period, resulting in a less acidic and bitter taste compared to traditional hot brewed coffee.

This brewing process allows the natural flavors of the coffee beans to shine, providing a rich and mellow coffee experience.

Low Acidity

For those who have sensitive stomachs or acid reflux, Starbucks Cold Brew can be a great option. The cold brewing process reduces the acidity level of the coffee, making it easier on the digestive system.

This makes it a gentler choice for those with stomach sensitivities, allowing them to enjoy a cup of coffee without discomfort.

Convenience of Starbucks

Another advantage of Starbucks Cold Brew is the convenience it offers. With Starbucks locations widely available, it is easy to find a store nearby to satisfy your cold brew cravings. Whether you’re on the go or need a quick pick-me-up, Starbucks provides a convenient option for enjoying their delicious cold brew.

Customization Options

Starbucks is known for its wide range of customization options, and their cold brew is no exception. You can personalize your cold brew by choosing different flavors, adding syrups, or opting for different milk choices.

This allows you to create a cold brew that perfectly suits your taste preferences, making it a versatile choice for coffee enthusiasts.

The Cons of Starbucks Cold Brew

Higher Price

One of the drawbacks of Starbucks Cold Brew is its higher price compared to other coffee options. Due to the specific brewing process and the use of premium coffee beans, Starbucks Cold Brew tends to be more expensive than traditional hot coffee or iced coffee.

However, many fans argue that the taste and quality of the Cold Brew make it worth the extra cost.

Inconsistency Between Locations

Another potential downside of Starbucks Cold Brew is the inconsistency between different locations. While Starbucks strives for consistency in its offerings, some customers have noted variations in taste and quality between different Starbucks stores.

This can be frustrating for those who have become accustomed to a particular flavor profile and expect the same experience regardless of the location they visit.

Sweetness Masks Subtle Flavors

Starbucks Cold Brew is known for its smooth and slightly sweet taste, which appeals to many coffee enthusiasts. However, some individuals may find that the sweetness masks the subtle flavors of the coffee.

If you prefer a more nuanced coffee experience with distinct flavor notes, you may find that the Cold Brew’s sweetness overwhelms those subtleties. It ultimately comes down to personal preference.

Limited Sizes

Starbucks Cold Brew is primarily available in two sizes: tall (12 ounces) and grande (16 ounces). This limited size selection may not be ideal for those who prefer smaller or larger serving options. If you are looking for a smaller, more concentrated serving or a larger size for sharing, you may need to explore alternative coffee options or consider customizing your order at Starbucks.

Alternatives to Consider

Cold Brew from Local Coffee Shops

While Starbucks is known for its delicious cold brew, there are other alternatives to consider. One option is to try cold brew from local coffee shops in your area. These smaller, independent establishments often have their own unique blends and brewing methods, offering a different taste experience.

Additionally, by supporting local businesses, you contribute to the growth of your community.

Check out Yelp or other review websites to find highly-rated coffee shops near you. You may be pleasantly surprised by the variety and quality of cold brew available in your neighborhood.

Making Your Own Cold Brew

If you’re feeling adventurous and want to try your hand at making cold brew at home, there are plenty of recipes and tutorials available online. Making your own cold brew allows you to customize the flavor profile and strength according to your preferences.

To make cold brew, all you need is coarsely ground coffee and cold water. Simply combine the coffee and water in a container, let it steep for 12-24 hours, and then strain the mixture to remove the grounds.

The result is a smooth and refreshing cold brew concentrate that can be diluted with water or milk.

There are numerous websites and YouTube channels dedicated to providing step-by-step instructions for making cold brew. Experiment with different coffee beans and brewing times to find the perfect combination that suits your taste buds.

Iced Coffee

If you’re looking for a quick and convenient alternative to cold brew, iced coffee is a popular choice. Unlike cold brew, which is steeped in cold water for an extended period, iced coffee is brewed hot and then poured over ice to cool it down.

Many coffee shops offer iced coffee as a menu staple, and you can also make it at home using your preferred brewing method. Whether you prefer a pour-over, French press, or espresso-based iced coffee, there are endless possibilities to explore.

Remember to adjust the strength and flavor of your iced coffee by adding milk, sweeteners, or flavor syrups. Feel free to get creative and experiment with different combinations to find your go-to iced coffee recipe.

Ultimately, whether you choose Starbucks or explore alternatives like local coffee shops, making your own cold brew, or opting for iced coffee, the goal is to find a beverage that satisfies your taste buds and keeps you refreshed.

Don’t be afraid to try new things and discover the world of cold coffee delights!


Starbucks cold brew has a lot going for it – a smooth, chocolatey flavor, low acidity, and convenience. The downsides are the higher cost compared to regular iced coffee and some inconsistencies between locations.

While Starbucks cold brew is good, it may not be the best option for all coffee drinkers. Supporting local coffee shops, making your own cold brew, or enjoying regular iced coffee are all solid alternatives.

No matter what you choose, there are plenty of tasty cold coffee options to beat the summer heat.

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