A Little Something New: Barrel Aged Coffee
Have you ever heard of barrel aged coffee? Chances are it’s not the coffee that comes to mind when you think of your morning brew, nor is it the kind of thing you expect to see when you pop into a café or market to grab yourself a bag of coffee to brew at home. Are barrel aged coffees a trend we’ll see more with different coffee roasters, or is it a fad that will go the way of dalgona coffee?
First up, let’s get down to understanding what exactly barrel aging is. It’s the process by which you age spirits in a barrel, typically an oak barrel. As an idea, it’s something that’s gone back thousands of years. The idea of barrel aging coffee though is a little bit newer, with the earliest online traces of a coffee roaster trying it happening about 5 years ago. Since the first couple of barrel aged coffees originated in the US, the most used barrels were that of bourbon whiskey. Soon enough, other roasters were trying to figure out their own barrel aged coffees, experimenting with barrels that used to hold wine, gin, and rum.
Choosing the green beans. Photo by Cycle Philippines
Barrel aging coffee isn’t simply grabbing some coffee beans you have lying around and tossing it into a barrel. A coffee roaster will use what’s called green beans or beans that haven’t been roasted yet, and then take their pick as to which barrel to put it in. The barrel won’t actually have any spirit left, so it’s not like the coffee will be swimming in the liquor. Once the barrel is filled and sealed, the coffee is left to age for several weeks to potentially longer, creating a coffee much more different than it was before it went in. After the aging, the coffee can then be roasted and it’s off to be tasted by the roaster first to see if it’s all good before being sold.
Filling up the barrel. Photo by Cycle Philippines
One thing of note is that not every coffee would work well aged in a barrel, let alone be aged at all. The result will also not produce a coffee with alcohol in it since the barrels should have already been dried out before being used for the aging process. You can expect to find notes of whatever spirit used to be in that cask, as well as a more complex taste to the coffee owing to it being aged. There’s a lot that can be done to find and create more complex flavors from coffee, with the barrel aging process being just one of those creative ways.
Minas Alianca Barrel Aged Coffee. Photo by Cycle Philippines
If you’re looking for a bit of adventure in your cup, you can grab yourself a bag of these barrel aged coffees and give them a shot either as a regular brew or maybe even on the rocks and sipped like a cocktail.
The Barrel Aged Coffee is available online. Price starts at Php 590, and is available in 200g, 500g and 1 kilo.
Words by Ryan Uy