The idea of barrel aging coffee beans with fine spirits and wine sounds compelling.
However, when you give it some thought, the realization dawns that this is just another overpriced industry trend hyped to the consumer. An up-market rendition of the flavored coffees of the 1980’s and 90’s…just sub bourbon for Irish cream, and wine for French vanilla.
Green coffee beans are highly porous. This is why proper storage is incredibly important, and also why coffee roasters are experimenting with aging the raw beans in emptied, bourbon, rum, and wine barrels in order for the beans to take on the complex flavors of the alcohol. The beans are stored for weeks or even months in the barrels, and then roasted to draw out particular essences.
Adding additional flavors to high quality coffee has the potential to overwhelm the inherent flavor profile, especially if you’re working with beans from a single origin. Coffee beans from different regions take on the flavors of their terroir, as well as taste components from the drying and processing method.
Death Wish Coffee illustrates their opinion “After aging our green coffee beans in freshly poured oak barrels, we are able to draw out much of the spirits’ flavor and through a slow roasting process, those unique liquor flavors remained.” Attached is a claim that they are barrel aging coffee for “Those with a sophisticated palate whom are coffee/spirit connoisseurs.”
A connoisseur is an expert, and typically a purist, with the knowledge and skill set to appreciate inherent nuances in the pure bean or spirit. Would they really buy into the adulteration of such incredible sapidity? It might be like using a Chateau Lafite for mulled wine.
The coffee also retails at a rather outrageous price point. As an example, Death Wish charges about $10 for 8 oz. of their regular specialty coffee vs. around $25 for an 8 oz. package of barrel aged coffee.
If you must try every new coffee industry trend, and don’t mind paying more for less, then these cutting edge coffees are for you.