One of the projects that really caught all of our attention this year is our Barrel Conditioned Brazil Cerrado. When the idea for this coffee had come about, we were trying to decide on our collaborative holiday coffee sold in the Saranac Brewery gift shop. We wanted to go big, something out of the ordinary, and something that would include the fruits of Saranac’s labor.
This product was a result of a growing relationship between Saranac Brewery and us, The Utica Coffee Roasting Co.. Saranac had generously given us two barrels that they had used to age a specialty beer in. The beer in question was the Single Malt Scotch ale. An incredibly rich beer that’s sweet and balanced.
The process we chose for this product was simple. We wanted the coffee to maintain its own character while still absorbing the natural flavors from the Single Malt Scotch Ale, the charred oak and of course, the bourbon.
It’s a delicate balance between barrel-conditioned flavors and the coffee resting inside. A short time in the barrel, but long enough to make an impression is the goal. Green coffee is susceptible to picking up aromas while in its densest state. It becomes much more permeable once it has been roasted as it expands and loses some of its mass.
Aging the green coffee in the barrels was the first step in our process and we had to be quite attentive at this point in the project. The difficulty here was making sure the barrels were dry enough so that no mold would develop, but still making sure enough of the aroma was intact to make an impact on the dense green seeds.
Once we had aged it for two months, we roasted the coffee with a very specific roast curve. Brazil Cerrado is a mild coffee with nutty cocoa flavors, and a heavier body. This was our driving factor in choosing which seed to use. The body of this coffee would help keep the dense vanilla sweetness on the tongue for a long finish and the flavor profile would have no clashing flavors against the barrel, beer, and the bourbon aroma. The low acidity of the coffee would also let the bourbon characteristics take the spotlight without any clashing.
The final step was a bit of a nail biter. Upon deciding to put the already roasted coffee back into the barrels to let it absorb more flavor, we had to proceed with extreme caution. Roasted coffee will pick up flavors of anything that’s near by. The stronger the flavor/aroma, the more the coffee will pick up, which makes absorbing the bourbon and beer characters very easy. So it was pertinent that we kept eyes on the coffee at all times, cupping every day to make sure we don’t overdo the flavors we are looking for.
Balance was key, and balance is what we achieved. The coffee exhibits a wonderfully long lasting vanilla flavor, bourbon, caramel, and a slightly smoky finish. A light amaretto flavor can be experienced, by adding the slightest bit of cream. We couldn’t have been more pleased with the finished product.
Order your Bourbon Barrel coffee at the link below