I’m not a big alcohol drinker. I might have a glass of red wine or a gin and tonic every now and then (maybe once a month?), typically only socially when out at concert venues. However, this coffee seemed much too out-of-the-ordinary to pass up when I saw it at the 8th and Roast location I visited. I’ve sampled coffee that was aged in wine barrels before, but the idea of coffee aged in bourbon barrels seemed much more appealing, even for this very inexperienced bourbon drinker.
When I was writing up this review, I came across this short YouTube video about the collaboration between Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery (the people behind Belle Meade Bourbon) and 8th and Roast. It’s well-worth a look if this coffee sounds intriguing to you!
Unlike 8th and Roast’s normal coffees, this didn’t have a roast date on the bag, for some reason. I asked the barista on duty for any information and unfortunately he wasn’t able to give me any specifics other than saying the coffee was definitely roasted recently; he guessed within the last month. I hate when bags lack this information, but I decided to take my chances… the coffee smelled too good to pass up.
The night before starting this tasting, I asked Shutterbug if we had any bourbon at home, and he poured me a taster of Yellow Rose Outlaw Bourbon Whiskey, made in Texas. It wasn’t bad! I don’t know how different Belle Meade Bourbon is from Yellow Rose, but I felt like I had at least a slightly better idea of what flavors to expect from this coffee. Drinking in the name of research!
Whole bean: Yep, that’s bourbon all right! Both whole and ground, these coffee beans were not shy about the aroma they picked up from their stay in those barrels.
French press: This coffee, brewed this way, smells like bourbon, cream soda, cherry cough syrup, and plastic. Pretty strong flavors. Shutterbug and I both had cups of this and we decided to try adding just a little bit of sugar to the coffee to see what would happen. He said that the sugar brought out the bourbon flavor more, while I disagreed as I felt all I could taste was sugar. However, with or without the added sugar, it was a cup that I felt could be really awesome paired with a vanilla-based dessert… perhaps a crème brûlée, or a vanilla butter cake.
Chemex: Similar to the french press cup minus the cherry cough syrup flavor. I preferred this. I did have trouble dialing in the grind for a proper extraction time and both batches I made were short of my usual 4:00 brewing, but there was no large difference in flavor between them.
AeroPress: This had the least amount of bourbon astringency. Easiest to drink straight.
V60: While this cup had a pretty strong scent of bourbon, it had a simpler and more one-dimensional flavor than either the Chemex or the French press cup.
SPECIAL EXPERIMENT – Cold brew: I had a hunch that these beans would be pretty great made into a cold-brew coffee concentrate, so I used my french press method and let the beans sit for 24 hours. When I tasted the concentrate, it was full of bourbon and vanilla flavor, and it was enhanced when adding milk. I think this might have been my favorite of all of my brewing methods for these beans. I ended up giving about 16 ounces of this cold brew to a friend, who proclaimed it his new favorite cold brew. If I were to make cold-brew coffee ice cream again, I have a feeling that these beans would taste AMAZING in this application.
Summary: It felt a little odd to be drinking something so boozy in flavor in the mornings (what if my students smelled alcohol on my breath??), but if you’re into both bourbon and coffee, this special edition coffee just may be right up your alley. I would prefer this brewed hot paired with a dessert or made into a cold brew.
From the roaster: black cherry, bourbon, vanilla cream
This coffee is not currently available online, but here’s a link to the roaster’s online store:
Shop 8th and Roast
There was a small but decent amount of bloom when the hot water hit the beans, so I’m going to guess that these beans were around 25-32 days post-roast.