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 Irish Whiskey and Vanilla offering here in a whiskey review format.
Tasting Notes: Don Pablo Irish Whiskey And Vanilla 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 moment water hit the grounds I could catch a bright, floral vanilla note. I found that these faded a bit once the coffee was brewed and poured, replaced by a sweeter, more toffee-like aroma.
Palate: My first impression on the palate was actually quite savory– earthy and even mildly spicy, but with sweetness lingering around the edges that started to take over after another sip or two. Eventually that sweetness replaced that initial impression with a melange of fruit flavors. Along with the omnipresent coffee bitterness, it brought to mind a ramekin filled with fruits as a side with diner breakfast.
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. The flavors are something of an odd fit, but it mostly works. While I could easily note the effects of the vanilla, it was a little harder to identify what the Irish whiskey was bringing to the party.
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. The flavors are something of an odd fit, but it mostly works. While I could easily note the effects of the vanilla, it was a little harder to identify what the Irish whiskey was bringing to the party.
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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...