Barrel aged coffees

Discuss flavors, brew temperatures, blending, and cupping notes.
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#1: Post by Chert »

For those directly experimenting with the process, there is a closed thread from last year.

I found a can at a local coffee bar and enjoyed DOMA Whiskey Barrel Aged Costa Rican by aeropress and Hario V60 93C seemed to brew it quite nicely. And my wife likes it quite well as a latte.

Here is an article from late last year about some of the roasters producing coffee with this technique.

Anyone had some barrel aged coffee on tap and care to comment about your experience?
LMWDP #198
aromas remain enticing, and I intrigued, ah coffee!

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#2: Post by TomC »

I've done it a few times. The coffees take on the wood's nature quite rapidly and frequently too overpowering. Some coffees shouldn't be used, specifically coffees that are already complex enough, i.e. dynamic Kenyan's, odd ball Indonesian's etc.

Try it with a sweet, clean, low acid simple coffee like a high quality pulped natural Brazilian. Keep the soak time short, it could be as short as one day, two maybe. If using wood chips instead of funneling the beans into a barrel, it works a bit easier. Barrels work quicker and are more difficult to manage. Even if you can't discern much with your nose, you should still partition out samples large enough to sample roast, then evaluate, because the wood aromatics penetrate quickly and display themselves in the roast readily. Some are failures, some are robust and exciting.

I've done a few various tests with American White Oak, medium toast barrels that aged Merlot, and also some with Jamaican Blanco Rum. There's endless possibilities.

Be cautious using expensive beans, or beans that are interesting enough on their own. If they can stand up on their own right, they don't really need the curve ball thrown at them that the wood aromatics provide. Some incredible results can be found by making blends of similar or complimentary coffees, where one small portion of one of those portions of the blend has the barrel age on them, but not the entire portion.

Fruit woods (cherry specifically), pecan, almond, oak is what I've played with. I'm curious to try alder. But I'd avoid things like cedar chips or anything overwhelming.
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#3: Post by UseIt4Toddy »

Last summer I aged about 2 pounds of beans on oak, and if memory serves, this was the process I settled on: .25 oz of oak cubes/.5 - 1 pound of greens; store in sealed mason jars 3-7 days as desired. When I went longer than a week, the result was a tannin bomb, which really surprised me given the small amount of oak I was using. As Tom mentioned, the beans will pick up all flavors (wood, spirits, wine) quite quickly, so it might be wise to begin on the low end to get a feel for what you prefer.

I just used oak cubes from the homebrew store, and I experimented with American, French, and Hungarian varieties, all medium toast. The distinctions brewers seek among the oaks (e.g., more or less vanillin, etc.) seemed largely lost, and if I were to do it again, I'd likely experiment with different woods like Tom has, and I would second the recommendation for clean, less expensive coffees to be used.

Think the most enjoyable concoction I produced was a really clean washed Ethiopian (one that I wasn't really dazzled by) aged on American oak cubes that had been soaked in cognac. The same coffee aged on Pinot-soaked French oak was also quite pleasant. These were both especially nice iced.

A friend of mine runs the barrel program at a brewery in San Diego, and they age beans (typically Harrar and a Java) in 5 gallon spirit barrels for their coffee stout. While I enjoy playing with small amounts at home, I give him a hard time about aging beans like this as being an abomination--jokingly of course--and I sometimes think this when I see the things some roasters are chucking in barrels. I've had a few of the barrel-aged offerings from Ceremony, and while they are quite interesting, I've never had anything I'd order a second cup of.

All that being said, it's still a lot of fun to play around with if done responsibly :D


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#4: Post by Chert (original poster) »

With Kenneth David's scoring one of Ceremony's efforts 95 then listing it 6 among thirty best coffees of 2013 roasters may continue to offer such.

I'm glad I got the chance to try it and I can readily accept the comments you all made about the aging process' timing and its effect.

I won't seek it out as I left hazelnut flavored beans and all other flavored coffees behind long ago. Even though the barrel aged technique may make more subtle effects than the flavored offerings of some coffee purveyors, I'm just more interested in origin flavors and roast varieties.
LMWDP #198
aromas remain enticing, and I intrigued, ah coffee!

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#5: Post by yakster »

I will also chime in that the effects were not subtle and the green coffee readily soaked up the aromas from the whiskey barrel chunks I aged them with. I haven't repeated the experiment again yet, but it was an interesting learning experiment and one of the takeaways from this for me was that if the green coffee can soak up these aromas so readily, this explains the importance on storage and shipment of greens and how green coffee stored in jute too long can become baggy.

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#6: Post by sweaner »

So, have they not just "invented" flavored coffee? I just picked some up that were conditioned in a Remy Martin barrel from Dark Matter. Interesting, but nothing that I would drink consistently.
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#7: Post by Boldjava »

yakster wrote:... the green coffee readily soaked up the aromas from the whiskey barrel chunks I aged them with. ...
I have some pear wood that I add to my smoking in the Big Green Egg. I am going to toss a couple of chunks in a 5 lb'er and see what happens.
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Chert (original poster)

#8: Post by Chert (original poster) »

To me it is a novelty, but some folks who tried it at my market stand quite liked it.

I'm going to include 8-12 ounces of a barrel aged coffee in a package for a charity auction this summer in our town. If any of you roasters like your results and want to supply the beans I think hobbyist coffee even adds to the interest (I'll pay after discussing with you). If interested PM me. Dark Matter, Espresso Smith, DOMA, (Ceremony? and a few other roasters - link above shows them) are commercial sources.
LMWDP #198
aromas remain enticing, and I intrigued, ah coffee!