barrelTen days ago I started an experiment with the barrel I got for my birthday. You can read about it here. Now I’d like to post about the results of my very unscientific experiment.

The Setup

I chose the Ethiopia Konga for my first venture in barrel aging coffee for a couple reasons.

1. It was one of the few coffees in my bunch of samples I’d actually roasted and tasted before, many times actually.

2. It’s flavor profile fit with the bourbon I had previously aged in my barrel. The Konga is a dry processed coffee, but not in the gigantic fruit bomb way that we often think of naturals. It’s major characteristic is its creamy body, though it does exhibit some red fruit characteristics as well.

The Result

So based on the changes that I saw in my bourbon over the course of a week, I aged the coffee for the same. The results were interesting. Given coffee’s porous nature it definitely soaked up some of the characteristics of the barrel and the bourbon that had been in there.

I was able to roast the coffee on Monday night and gave it about 18 hours to rest. It came out smelling like no coffee I’d ever tried before. When I tried the coffee (V60 Pour Over for those interested) it tasted like butterscotch, strong, almost fermented butterscotch. Honestly, it was a little harsh. So I let it rest a while longer and tried it again. The 2nd cup was much smoother and more mellow, but still retained the obvious butterscotch flavors, a success.

What I Learned

All these early experiments taught me a lot. For instance, 1 week in a small barrel will make a pretty big difference. But after some more reading no barrel aging I found out that it takes approximately 58 days to equal 1 year in a normal 53 gallon barrel. So I’ll be aging things a while longer in the future.

I was also reminded of the importance of degassing freshly roasted coffee. When I more frequently roasted at home I would often drink my coffee right off the roaster, but some coffee needs more time to rest. This was definitely the case because it turned what was almost harsh into something strange and wonderful.

Right now I’m prepping the barrel for more coffee aging with some Tanqueray Martinis. I can’t wait to taste the results of the cocktail and whatever coffee I decide to follow that with. It should be interesting.

For now we’ve got the Ethiopia Bourbon Barrel Konga in extremely limited quantities at Three Crowns Coffee. But it’s sure to be just the first in a long line of coffee aging experiments.