Editor’s Note: This coffee was provided to us as a review sample by the party behind it. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review.
The coffee/whiskey cocktail is, in my experience, a tough nut to crack. The combination of two acquired tastes can pose a challenge even for those such as myself who’ve acquired both. Coffee’s bitterness and whiskey’s sweetness have the potential to strike a delicate balance when the right beans meet the right juice in the right proportions. But identifying the right balance of mutually supporting flavors is a trial and error process which, I’ll admit, I’ve never managed to follow through.
Florida based coffee roaster Don Pablo offers something of a shortcut to this process by infusing their Arabica beans with whiskey. According to Don Pablo’s promotional materials, they soak the beans in Bourbon, Irish, or Canadian whiskeys before the drying and roasting process which preserves the flavors imparted by the booze while burning off any but the most stubbornly residual alcohol. This process deftly sidesteps the persistent philosophical question posed by coffee cocktails– is it an upper or a downer?
I sampled three whiskey-infused coffees by grinding the beans at a medium-coarse setting and brewing for 3 minutes in a french press. Per the recommendation on Don Pablo’s website (which, conveniently, aligned exactly with my own personal preferences), I took my coffee black without any additional sweetener and share my experience with the Bourbon Infused offering here in a whiskey review format.
Tasting Notes: Don Pablo Bourbon Infused Coffee
Appearance: Deep black of course, but a spectrometer would be required to be more specific and I don’t have one handy, slightly thick due to my method of preparation (french press), with a small amount of oiliness showing at the top of the mug.
Nose: From the very first breath in I caught several aromas simultaneously. Caramel, nuts, chocolate– enough to distract me for a few seconds wondering what it would take to make a homemade Snickers bar. There’s a recognizable twang of alcohol behind these aromas, but it’s muted, pleasant and warm.
Palate: You’re not going to catch me talking badly about the way bitterness interacts with round, malt sweetness. The upscale-candy bar impression of the nose is enhanced on the palate. Very little hang-time for a coffee, the key flavors seem to fade after a minute or so leaving a light-toast, almost burnt matches flavor (which I’m not knocking as a negative or anything, it’s just the closest aroma I can name).
Final Thoughts: Interesting as a novelty item that’s fun for a cup or two, but there’s nothing here that makes me want to stop buying my usual beans. I think of the three whiskey-infused coffees I sampled, this was my favorite. The flavors were mutually complementary and well-defined and the influence of the whiskey was clearly discernible.
Interesting as a novelty item that’s fun for a cup or two, but there’s nothing here that makes me want to stop buying my usual beans. I think of the three whiskey-infused coffees I sampled, this was my favorite. The flavors were mutually complementary and well-defined and the influence of the whiskey was clearly discernible.
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Jacob Wirt’s past lives as a cook and cultural studies researcher continue to inform his appreciation of fermented grain beverages- not (only) because these professions might drive one to drink, but because they offer a reminder of the knowledge, work, and history that makes every glass possible. His first love...