Re: What is the best way to add Coffee to beer?

Thu Jan 08, 2009 1:43 pm

To add to the discussion, I've had quite a few craft beers these last few years that were infused with coffee in one way or another. Cold-brewed, espresso, grounds at whirlpool, "dry beaning," etc... While some of these beers have been outstanding, the most common flaw I've found is many have that boiled or burnt coffee flavor/aroma. Remember grandma's old percolator and the shitty ass coffee that thing use to pump out?

On many occasions I've had the chance to talk to the craft brewers themselves about how they infused the coffee. With the beers that had that burnt/boiled coffee aspect, it seemed the majority had added grounds at whirlpool, when the wort was near boiling.

I did an experiment a few months back with 6 different brewing methods using the same coffee (Peet's Arabian Mocha Java). They were as follows:

1) Percolator - burnt flavor and aroma. One of the worst ways to brew coffee, IMO.
2) French press - very strong flavors and aromas. Slightly oily. More ashen flavors than the other methods.
3) Drip cone (Swissgold brand metal filter) - bold flavors an strong aroma. Faintly oily. No real ashen flavors.
4) Espresso - Extremely bold flavor and aroma. Syrupy mouthfeel. Much more bittersweet chocolate and clean roastiness. Slight acidic twang.
5) Cold brew (using a Cold Toddy brewer) - very little aroma and flavor. Almost no acidity and brightness. A very boring cup, even when drinking the straight concentrated brew. Watered back to the manufacturer's instructions absolutely killed it. This method also requires 1 full pound of grounds to make a relatively small volume of coffee.
6) Whole beans steeped in cold water for 1 week. Mild flavors and strong aroma. Not very dark.

As I mentioned before, the espresso is by far my preferred cup of coffee, ergo my preferred method for infusing coffee into beer on a homebrew scale.
- Julian Shrago
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Beachwood BBQ & Brewing
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SacoDeToro
 
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Re: What is the best way to add Coffee to beer?

Thu Jan 08, 2009 11:12 pm

I've only done coffee in my oatmeal stouts (okay, the only stout I brew is oatmeal) and do a warm to cold steep with a french press, though I have tried several methods. What I have found to have the biggest flavor impact is the coffee itself. I personally use one of three different coffees: Caferwa, Kinunu Rwanda or Cafe de Bufundu. Finding a coffee that fits the beer I feel is the key.
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Re: What is the best way to add Coffee to beer?

Fri Jan 09, 2009 5:38 am

SacoDeToro wrote:I did an experiment a few months back with 6 different brewing methods using the same coffee (Peet's Arabian Mocha Java). They were as follows:

1) Percolator - burnt flavor and aroma. One of the worst ways to brew coffee, IMO.
2) French press - very strong flavors and aromas. Slightly oily. More ashen flavors than the other methods.
3) Drip cone (Swissgold brand metal filter) - bold flavors an strong aroma. Faintly oily. No real ashen flavors.
4) Espresso - Extremely bold flavor and aroma. Syrupy mouthfeel. Much more bittersweet chocolate and clean roastiness. Slight acidic twang.
5) Cold brew (using a Cold Toddy brewer) - very little aroma and flavor. Almost no acidity and brightness. A very boring cup, even when drinking the straight concentrated brew. Watered back to the manufacturer's instructions absolutely killed it. This method also requires 1 full pound of grounds to make a relatively small volume of coffee.
6) Whole beans steeped in cold water for 1 week. Mild flavors and strong aroma. Not very dark.



That's a pretty insightful break down Julian. Thanks for posting it. I can kind of see the progression between different methods, so judging by your experiment maybe flavor to taste with espresso and then dry bean it with some whole beans for that smack you in the nose aroma. I really want to brew one now.
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Re: What is the best way to add Coffee to beer?

Fri Jan 09, 2009 10:01 am

If you go back and find the show with the Terrapin Brewing Co, they talk a lot about coffee in beers. If I remember correctly, their brewer puts the ground beans into the secondary. I brewed one where I just put the coffee into the wort at flame out and it came out great, in my biased opinion.
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Re: What is the best way to add Coffee to beer?

Sat Jan 17, 2009 1:36 am

I just used a really good cup of excellence bean - ground it. meshed it up in washed muslin, and steeped it for a minute or so at 80'c after boil.

I used 10g/lit in a very big imperial stout.

The bitterness from the coffee was noted, but in a good way. I am a kinda coffee freak too, 22oz presspot with day break. I like my coffee'd beers to taste of COFFEEEE!!!! not insipid mid brown shite...

and will someone please ban folgers.

I would, if living the US pop to your local roastery and see what they have.

I have also done the vodka thing - with something like everclear, from italy. I then added that to the secondary - I think it kinda messed the beer up.
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Re: What is the best way to add Coffee to beer?

Tue Jan 20, 2009 4:24 pm

I have used coffee 3 different ways.

We roasted our own beans and made espresso out of it, we ground up some freshly roasted beans and dry beaned with them, and I have dry beaned with whole beans.

I never side by sided the whole beans with the espresso beer, and they were different bases (one was at Rock Bottom and one was at the Yak and Yeti), but I enjoyed the result of both. Over the two different beers, neither result really jumped out as better to me, but Julian's breakdown definitely sounds like it could be right on.

I have the most experience with just dry beaning with whole coffee beans, and you definitely get very little roast or harshness out of the beans when using this method, and the nose is quite pronounced. The efficiency is also quite good, even when the beans are left whole. I found .10lb of a medium roast bean gives quite a lot of flavor/aroma to a 5 gallon batch of beer when left whole. Results were seen after just 24 hours, but the extraction continued for another week or so before it seemed to level off.

An interesting test to conduct with coffee beers is to add a touch of vanilla. If you over do it on the coffee and it comes off a bit too astringent, or just too powerful, a little bit of vanilla acts a bit like sugar/cream in a normal coffee. It softens everything and brings the roast/astringency from the coffee into check. Definitely don't overdo it though, you don't necessarily want to taste the vanilla (and really won't in small amounts), but simply want it to balance the coffee.
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Re: What is the best way to add Coffee to beer?

Wed Jan 21, 2009 11:07 am

I haven't dry-steeped the coffee, but in my experience I've had good luck with flame out additions of pre-brewed coffee. I got some pretty good reviews from homebrew club last night with that beer. You have to play around with how much coffee. A full pot for me is 2 quarts so I always boil my beer to be about 4.5 gallons instead of 5 so I can add it back up to a total of 5. I don't weigh it out, but i've found that with 1 coffee grinder worth of beans it gives me a nice mild coffee flavor and a subtle aroma. 2 grinders full gives me intense flavor and aroma reminding me a bit of chicory stout. You can play around with exact amounts.

BYO suggests for their breakfast stout clone that you add ground beans at flame out and again dry-hopped. If this is all like the real beer, it gives wonderful coffee aroma when warm, but it's very muted and bland when cold. Just my 2 cents.
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Re: What is the best way to add Coffee to beer?

Mon Mar 16, 2009 1:34 am

SacoDeToro

I'm curious about your process. I love espresso (second favorite beverage) and I have a nice espresso machine. I still bottle so I can't add it to the keg but I could add it before bottling. What sort of volume are you talking about? I have a american stout I'd like to espresso flavor to, how much are we talking about for 5 gallons and do you worry about head retention? Thanks in advance.
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