Adding Coffee to Beer! – Monthly Brews
Adding Coffee to Beer!

We usually like to include a historical reference to what we are writing about, but there doesn't seem to be much historical documentation on this. The Founders brewery seemed to have stumbled upon their Breakfast Stout when a chocolate covered espresso bean was eaten at a bar, then washed down with a stout. The resulting beer has been a popular seasonal ever since. Homebrewers however, have been adding this for decades, from what we have heard stories of, and it makes sense since beer and coffee have a lot in common. We're sure there is a big middle section to the Ven diagram showing the crossover between people that like coffee, and people that like beer. There are even similarities in the detractors of these beverages. Prohibition against beer consumption is well known, but attempts have been made over the history of coffee to outlaw its use as well. Not to mention some religious opinions on the consumption of both coffee and beer. 

The similarities are not just social however. Indeed, when talking about the popularity of IPAs and how some do or don't like the bitterness of them, we liken it to coffee drinkers. More than likely when someone starts drinking coffee they don't love the bitterness, and end up buffering the seemingly acrid taste with milk or cream, or sugar, or chocolate... or all of these, but as coffee drinkers become more used to the taste, they realize it is the bitterness that is drawing them in. Same with bitterness in beers. It is there to balance the sweetness of the drink, but people find themselves pushing that bitterness level to the extreme, because there is an appeal to that sensation when done correctly. So, it makes sense to add coffee flavor to not only stouts, but even light colored beers. Combining the two products is something akin to providence (take that religious groups), it was just going to happen. 

So how do you do it, well we pieced together the following from several sources including our own experience.

Grind or smash whole beans to a coarse or medium grind then cold brew or hot brew the coffee to add to your beer. Or, you can add the grounds (or whole beans) directly to your secondary fermentation.

Hot vs Cold brewing coffee:
- Hot brewing is just regular old coffee making. It’s an easy way to pasteurize your coffee if you are adding it later in fermentation, and while it does pull flavor out of the beans quickly, it can pull some acids and bitterness out of the beans.
- Cold brewing uses cold or room temperature water to get the flavor out of the beans, but without as much bitterness. leave sit for 12-24 hours then strain your grounds from the water.

When to add the coffee to your beer:
- Pre-boil/boil additions can give you better head retention in your final beer, and totally pasteurize your coffee, but can minimize the coffee flavor and kill delicate aromatics of fancy coffee you might be using.
- Primary fermentation additions will increase coffee flavors and retain most subtle flavors of beans, but can reduce the head retention of your beer. Coffee bean oils = reduced head.
- Post fermentation additions are easy to do, and you can do it to taste before you keg or bottle. Just add till you get the desired coffee flavor amount you like in your beer. Head retention could suffer, and using cold brewed coffee could potentially be harboring infection causing contaminates.

How much coffee to add:
- 12-20 oz of coffee per 5 gallon batch
- Amounts can very wildly however due to the strength of coffee being brewed, the kind of beer it's being added to, and personal preference of the person drinking it.

Dry Beaning (like dry hopping):
- Add your ground beans to secondary. Use a fine mesh bag, to reduce grounds in your final product. Leave beans whole for less color extraction of the bean, but this will extend the steeping time needed to achieve the desired flavor contribution to your beer.
- Use whole beans if your want less dark color extraction, but you will want to increase your steeping times for the same amount of coffee flavor. 

Or take it from the experts.
Cold extraction process =
Add .5 lbs of coffee to 24 oz of cold filtered water in a sanitized container. Allow to sit in the fridge for 24 hours. Then run it through a coffee filter. All or part may be added depending on taste.
-from "Radical Brewing" By Randy Mosher.

January 05, 2018 by Ross Metzger

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