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  1. #1
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    Information Please: About Barrel-Aging Coffee

    I would like to get into barrel-aging coffee. I know bourbon and whiskey are the most popular

    A few questions:
    • Does the roaster capture any of the alcohol the beans are soaking up with? I don't want to "contaminate" my roaster by doing this and alter the taste of all of the other non-aged coffee beans
    • Where can I get a barrel? I know you don't want to allow the beans to soak up too much of the alcohol, so what is a good standard when looking to purchase a barrel?
    • Are there any additional health department regulations on aging and selling these types of beans?

  2. #2
    Seb
    Seb is offline
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    The beans will not soak any alcohol and alcohol is really volatile so it would go away with the heat if there was any. If you soak the used barrel into hot water you will get some alcohol into the water. But a dry barrel will only transfer his flavors (good or bad) into the green beans. It takes few weeks of conditionning to get the flavors and depending on th beans you need some trials to find out the best beans and contact time.

    If you can, contact a local distillery, this would be the best place to get a used barrel. The easiest way to do it is to remove one head of the barrel to fill the beans, re-install the head and place it on a rack horizontal and roll it from time to time. I do not recommand used wine barrel as the chance of spoilage is high in theses. Better to stick with a barrel that had a high proof alcohol. If you can't find a suitable barrel, i could send you my contact info to get used spirit barrels if you are in North America. Just send me a PM.

    I can't help with your last question is it is related to your local food regulation. I am doing experiments with green beans conditionned in used barrels since few years. So far, it is interesting, powerful flavors but not for everyone. Once i am happy i will release a limited edition coffee.

    Here is a good text with sone infos: Barrel-Conditioned Coffee - Imbibe Magazine

  3. #3
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    Very helpful Seb, thank you! I do have a local distillery near me --I will have to check into their options but if they are no help then I may get back with you to see if you can send me that contact info. I am in the US

  4. #4
    Seb
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    Great if you are in the US, easy! I am a commercial winemaker and i buy some of my barrels from a distributor in Napa Valley. He now have few used bourbon barrels for sale. I just bought one last week. Send me an email i will send his phone number and email: info@lecafecrema.com
    Last edited by Seb; 12-29-2017 at 07:35 AM.

  5. #5
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    jwade20 - what state are you based out of?

  6. #6
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    Dec 2014
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    I suppose it depends on what segment of specialty market you’re going for, but I’m too paranoid about tainting the drum. The stuff I’ve smelled was strong—probably done wrong...

  7. #7
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    Feb 2017
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    Middletown, CT
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    this is intriguing to me and might be something i would be interested in getting into. do you soak the beans in the alcohol or do the green beans just age in a barrel that, lets say, whiskey was aged in and then roasted?

  8. #8
    Seb
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    In my case i have some alcohol that was first aged for 18 months in my used barrel. I have two barrels so i rack the alcohol into the other barrel and let the first one dry for few days/week. Then i add my green beans into the barrel that had previously alcohol for a few days/weeks and then roast them. I switch the alcohol between the two barrels to keep the flavours the same. The alcohol is a brandy. I am still in my testing phase, testing differents beans, different exposure time, etc...

  9. #9
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    I have never done it myself... yet... but I did a ton of research at one time. From what I understand most people are using a wet barrel. Wet barrels from my understand still have a bit of residual liquid/alcohol left in them after production. The residual liquid helps keep the staves hydrated so the barrels will still hold liquid. I guess dry barrels have reached a certain low moisture level that it takes a bit of work to 're-swell' the wood staves in order for the barrel to be used for liquid storage. Most places are taking a full wet barrel (53 gallon) and using a whole bag of green coffee. Two to four weeks seem to be the average hold time most people are aging the coffee. I was told by everyone to make sure to really agitate the beans every day and many elidued to using their moisture meter.

  10. #10
    Seb
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    I use small 20L barrels as i am only doing small tests for myself now. So they are easy to move around for rehydration (later on this). When i say that i let it dry i only mean let evaporate most liquid as i really want to avoid two problems:

    1- Having a too high humidity level
    2- Having beans in contact with liquid

    I am a commercial winemaker so i can have any size barrels i want but for my tests thoses small one are just easier to work with. There is no problem rehydrating the barrel as it never have the time to dry out. But i do rehydrate with hot water at 10% volume of the barrel, i install a silicone bung and shake the barrel to create pressure inside the barrel. It will usually leak a bit so do it over a sink or such but it is the fastest way to do it and very convenient with small barrels. A used barrel with a bit of liquid in it present many risks of contamination (not if it had alcohol) and will absolutely not help to keep it tight, except if you buy it directly from the producer and he had alcohol in it very recently. You really need either hot water or full of cold water. For example with a 220L barrel you need to fill it with water + citric acid at 5% concentration with a silicone bung on (never use a wood bung) and wait till no sign of leakage is observed. But if you do one batch after the other without adding any alcohol back like I do there is no need to do that and the flavors are powerful enough to make certainly a few batches in a row (i guess as i always rack my alcohol from one barrel to the other).
    Last edited by Seb; 01-05-2018 at 06:25 PM.

 

 
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