The coffee industry has gone through major changes over the last decade. From vitamin-infused coffees to pharmaceutical-grade CBD coffee, new coffee trends are popping up every time you hit the refresh button on your internet browser. One such trend is the lost art of barrel aged coffee or also known as cask coffee and spirit infused coffee. In this article we take a closer look at this fusion between two of the world's most popular drinks (coffee and alcohol) and of course, the best barrel aged coffee on the market.
Clout Barrel Aged Coffee
Lifeboost Barrel Aged Coffee
Cooper Cask Barrel Aged Coffee
Our top picks for were based on a number of metrics which include both the quality coffee and quality of spirits used in the aging process. As you'll reader in this article, both variables matter equally. Also influential in the final brew is the process that the company employs to infuse the coffee beans with aroma and flavor of the spirit.
Best Barrel Aged Coffee of 2022
Starting off our list of best barrel aged coffees is Clout Coffee. The company offers a delightful selection of different barrel aged brews including rum ,bourbon whiskey, and single malt whiskey. Their coffee comes in whole bean, ground, and even K-Cup / Coffee pod form.
What makes their brew unique is that they've achieved a near perfect balance of coffee / spirits so you can really appreciate the natural flavors of both. Clout Coffee sources high quality single origin coffee beans from Colombia and then ages them to absolute perfection.
Clout Coffee uses no artificial flavoring whatsoever making for an incredibly clean, natural, yet robust flavor in their coffee. Another thing we liked about Clout Coffee was the fact that you can choose your roast. As any coffee lover knows, the roast plays an hue role in the flavor so this is an equally huge plus for those who have a very particular flavor profile.
Lifeboost Coffee is no stranger to our “best of coffee” series and it's not a huge surprise to us that this premium coffee brand is also responsible for producing an quality barrel aged coffee as well. These beans are sourced from the high mountains of Nicaragua and aged in charred whiskey barrels for a solid 30 days. These barrels were used in a craft distillery up in the Pocono Mountains.
The end result is a brew that delivers robust notes of oaky smoke and a subtle yet exotic sweetness. The complexity of the flavor tones are certain to delight the senses. Additionally, the flavor of premium Whiskey in this brew is finely balanced and not overwhelming in the least.
One of the things we like most about the medium roast coffee is that it's also low acid and so very gentle on the stomach. As with all of Lifeboost Coffee products, this quality barrel aged coffee is pesticide-free, mycotoxin-free. Get 20% off your purchase by using our exclusive discount code: BESTQUALITY
Cooper Cask Coffee, a small batch roaster, offers their premium Bourbon Whiskey coffee for those looking for a revitalized coffee experience. They source premium grade Colombian single origin coffees which deliver tasting notes of chocolate and hazelnut. Cooper Cask ages their coffee in recently emptied barrels of premium whiskey from Sons of Liberty for months prior to roasting. This ensures each pore of every coffee bean is filled with potent flavors of Whiskey, Bourbon, or Rum. This process results in a very earthen flavor that couldn't be more different than the syrup-flavored coffees. It's tastes natural. With many flavored coffees out there, there's an artificial flavor that in my opinion, can mar what would otherwise be authentic coffee flavor.
Because of the unique process that Cooper Cask Coffee undergoes, these coffee beans yield a uniquely rich and refined flavor. Cooper Cask Coffee offers a 100% money back guarantee which speaks volumes about the confidence they have in their product. One of the pioneers of the barrel aged coffee in general, this brand takes a rightful place on this list. Check out our full Copper Cask Coffee review for more details.
Next on our list of best barrel aged coffee is also a veteran owned company called Fire Department Coffee (FDC). As its name suggests, it's also a fire fighter owned coffee brand as well. Their Irish Whiskey Infused Coffee is a fan-favorite with signature notes of toffee, butterscotch, and vanilla. These beans are medium roasted and infused with real Irish Whiskey resulting in a flavor that's as smooth as it is impressive. The Whiskey flavor and aroma in this coffee is balanced and subtle so it's perfect for those who prefer more of the taste of coffee than Whiskey.
If you're not a Whiskey fan, FDC offers additional spirit infused coffee flavors of bourbon, tequila, and rum. Lastly, for fans of cold brews, consider checking out their world's first spirit infused nitro cold brews which were just recently released.
Next on our list is a bourbon barrel aged coffee from Vintage Gentleman. This coffee blend was designed for the Whiskey lover who's appreciation for spirits runs as deep as it does coffee. Offering a delicious profile of English Toffee, Vanilla, Deep Chocolate, and a fine aged Bourbon, this brew is a fine example of the best that spirit infused coffees have to offer. It's full bodied-flavor and potent aroma are a pure delight to the senses.
This small batch roasted coffee is guaranteed to be fresh and makes a perfect gift for the holidays.
This barrel aged coffee is made in St. Augustine, FL in partnership with “The Kookaburra Coffee.”
Traverse City Barrel Aged Coffee another excellent option that's worthy of being on this list of the best barrel aged coffee in the business. Traverse City is best known for their Whiskey so their foray into the coffee world may come as a surprise to some. Their Stillhouse Blend sources Guatemalan beans and offers a very enjoyable medium roast topped off with an impressively smooth and elegant finish. As coffee lovers we all know that taste is subjective. What's weak for one may be strong for another. That being the case, we'd recommend Traverse City coffee for those who prefer a more subtle and balanced taste.
Their coffee beans are aged in 10-year old bourbon barrels.
What is Barrel Aged Coffee?
So what exactly is barrel aged coffee and what does it mean for your average coffee lover?
To start, let's look at an actual coffee bean. Coffee beans are porous by nature and so they easily adopt the aromas and flavors of their surrounding environment. Ever try storing coffee beans in a freezer full of meat? You'll notice that if it's in there long enough, your brew will may have aroma notes of Ribeye and New York Strip. While that may not necessarily be a bad thing in and of itself, coffee that smells like meat isn't very appealing. It's for this reason that many high-end coffee importers go to painstaking lengths to ensure their coffee beans aren't exposed to unwanted aromas during shipping.
This same concept is applied to the idea of barrel aged coffee. Green coffee beans are left to age in empty barrels that typically once held Whiskey, Rum or Bourbon. These retired casks hold the key to a new world of coffee experiences as over time, they infuse these unroasted beans with their original aromas and tasting notes. Beans are general left to age for at least 2-4 weeks.
Some people understandably wonder whether the coffee beans are soaked in Whiskey, Rum, and/or Bourbon to maximize absorption. The answer is no. Given their porous nature, coffee beans would soak up the moisture and be rendered unroastable.
Interestingly enough, the quality of the Whiskey and Bourbon that was housed in the aging barrels does have a big effect on the end product. A barrel that held top shelf alcohol versus bottom shelf will taste different. For example, Cooper Cask Coffee uses premium whiskey from Sons of Liberty for the highest quality infusion possible.
Believe it or not, the quality of wood is also important. Different types of woods have different smells and tastes which affect the final brew.
During the infusion process, the coffee's skin or parchment is left intact so that it can absorb extra flavors and aromas from the barrel. Just prior to the drying and hulling process, the parchment is removed.
When something is aged in a barrel, it undergoes many chemical reactions and transformations. Processes such as fermentation can alter things in both dramatic and subtle ways. As many already know, wine undergoes the same process and yields a far better experience than is afforded by grape juice 🙂
Speaking of which, there is also such a thing as wine barrel aged coffees. The concept is similar and Cooper Cask Coffee offers a Cabernet Sauvignon wine barrel aged coffee sourced with Costa Rican beans.
Fun fact: Did you know that when unroasted green coffee beans are barrel aged, the beans natural develop higher levels of sugar? As such, craft roasters who know what they're doing, will roast the bean in a manner that accentuates this distinction.
What Barrels are Used to make Barrel Aged Coffee?
American Oak Bourbon barrels are ideal for barrel aging. Being that they can only be used once, they are naturally in high demand. The material of fresh white oak is especially absorptive when it comes to retaining the characteristics of the spirits that it once held. These flavors and aromas are preserved and passed along to the porous coffee beans. The art of pairing the right barrel with the right coffee bean is an artform. And it's definitely not random. Certain flavor pairings are a natural complement to the other and so roasters are especially careful when matching the right bean with the right barrel.
What Makes Barrel Aged Coffee Different?
The most obvious answer to this question is flavor. There's a subtleness and refinement to the flavor that's in my opinion unsurpassed. The way in which the Bourbon or Whiskey interacts with the naturally porous coffee bean yields a taste that's hard to put in words. I remember when I first tried quality barrel aged coffee, it seemed like a fusion of two things that were just meant to be together. The flavor of the whiskey barrel coffee was so distinct, you would've thought the coffee plant was watered with whiskey.
While whiskey barrel coffee, rum barrel coffee, and bourbon barrel coffee differ from one brand to the next, they generally deliver a nuttier, earthier, and sweeter flavor than regular coffee. For those who enjoy a sweeter coffee but are looking to cut down their sugar intake, barrel aged coffees make an excellent option.
Aside from flavor, barrel aged coffee is also typically lower in acidity. That means, the coffee will be gentler on your stomach compared to other coffees. Barrel Aged Coffee can be less likely to irritate your stomach or bowels.
Will Barrel Aged Coffee or Spirit Infused Coffee Get Me Drunk?
This is a fair question. Even if you consider yourself a super light weight, the answer is a definitive no.
Whiskey Barrel coffee or Bourbon Barrel coffee will not get you drunk, but the caffeine will certainly get you energized. The final product will no contain alcohol being that it evaporates during the roasting process.
Coffee lovers are frequently looking for ways to get the most out of their cup of Joe. Whiskey barrel coffee, rum barrel coffee, and bourbon barrel coffee offer a truly unique arrangement of distinct and “boozy” flavors that may have you redefining what a good cup of coffee is. That's a bold statement I know. But there's a reason barrel aged coffee is more than a temporary trend in the coffee industry.
Cold Brew Spirit Infused Coffees
While barrel aged coffees and spirit infused coffees have been around for years now, cold brew spirit infused coffees is a brand new sub category that's recently been gaining traction.
For those who may not know, cold brews and iced coffee are not the same. Cold brews refer to coffee beans that are brewed in a very specific manner where as iced coffee is regularly brewed coffee with ice. To make a cold brew, coffee beans are steeped in cold or room temperature water for anywhere between 5 and 24 hours. The result is a naturally sweeter, smoother, and less acidic coffee.
Companies have recently started merging the concept of spirit infused coffee and barrel aged coffee with cold brews in specific. We think it's a match made in coffee cold brew heaven.
Fire Department Coffee is actually the pioneer of spirit infused cold brews and produced a very impressive selection of refreshingly unique brews. As a huge bonus, they are Nitro cold brews which means they'll have a creamy, frothy, silky smooth head of foam when you drink it.
Conclusion: Whiskey and Bourbon Barrel Aged Coffee
For some reason, the combination of coffee with Whiskey or Bourbon makes for a surprisingly delicious cup of coffee regardless of whether you actually have a preference for these specific spirits or not. It's one of those things that you have to experience to fully appreciate. Once you've tried it, you'll immediately be able to detect the signature Whisky or Bourbon flare in your coffee. My only suggestion is that should you make the jump into the world of the best barrel aged coffees, make sure you choose a quality brand such as those listed in this article.