"The water was not fit to drink. To make it palatable, we had to add whisky. By diligent effort, I learned to like it." ~ Winston Churchill
One of the hottest trends in coffee is the infusion of liquor aromas and flavors into the cup. Local roasters to Starbucks now offer variations on barrel-aged coffee to curious customers. The most common liquor used is whiskey (if you're Scottish or American) or whisky (if you're Irish) but can also be made from rum, tequila or other fine liquors. But you may be curious how it's made. House Cup has begun to test various barrel-aged coffees and looks forward to sharing our experiences with you in the near future.
Barrel-aged coffee is simply green (unroasted) coffee that sits in DRY used barrels for a period of time. It isn't soaking in the liquor - this is a dry process - and there is no alcohol present in the final roasted coffee bean. But the aroma and flavors impart those from both the coffee and the liquor for which the barrel was used. In our case, we're using an Evan Williams Kentucky Bourbon aged in a test barrel for our first attempts at this process.
After the bourbon sits in the barrel for about a month, we remove it and leave the barrel uncorked to dry. Once dry, we place the green coffee (our first batch used Colombia but next using Costa Rica) for 2-3 weeks. Some people leave the green coffee in barrels for up to a year, but we're not that patient. But I have found that only after a couple of weeks, the outcome is a nice balanced coffee that clearly shares the characteristics of the bourbon on the nose and in the flavor on the tongue.