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Making Coffee Wine: The Secret Is Good Coffee

A while back, I started thinking about the similarities between wine and coffee, and the thought process eventually brought me to… Coffee wine. Or, more specifically, making coffee wine. Having turned out a couple of batches of dandelion wine and apple wine, I found myself wondering about making wine from coffee. I ran a few dozen Internet searches and learned a few things.

What I Learned About Making Wine from Coffee

  1. Most people who have tried making wine from coffee agree that coffee makes pretty terrible wine.
  2. Most people who have tried making coffee wine are more interested in wine than in coffee.
  3. Most people who have tried it start with either tinned ground coffee from the supermarket, or worse, with instant coffee.
  4. Most people who have tried it have used really awkward coffee:water ratios.
  5. Many of the recipes called for boiling the coffee grounds in water and/or letting them sit in the water overnight before straining them out.

In other words,, most people who have tried to make coffee wine know almost nothing about making good coffee. In fact, they have started out with coffee that no coffee lover would, under any circumstances, actually drink.

Now, one of the first rules of winemaking is: Start with high quality fruit because any taint will be amplified in the fermentation. Once I realized that, I knew I had to try to make coffee wine myself, applying the rules of making good wine and the rules for making good coffee.

The Right Coffee for Making Wine from Coffee

I wanted a lovely fruit forward coffee with no sour acidity to go vinegary. When I read this description at Sweet Maria’sI knew I had a winner:

Arrival dateMarch 2013 Arrival
Appearance.2 d/300gr, PB Screen
GradePeaberry
ProcessingWet Process (Washed)
RegionArusha, Tanzania
Varietal(s)Arusha
Intensity/Prime attributeMedium-Bold intensity / Sweet, berry note, chocolate
RoastCity+ to Full City+ roast level.

This lot of Tanzania peaberry is fruity indeed, but with such sweetness that it’s pectin-like. The dry aroma is perfumed with jammy fruits – plum and black preserves top the list – and with notes of strawberry fruit roll up and berry tea. There is a rustic quality as well, with a combination of walnuts and floral honey, and darker roasts show aromatic wood and powdered ginger. Adding hot water gives this coffee a smell of raisins and dried plums, along with light brown sugar and maple syrup. Sometimes it’s difficult to tell how fruity a coffee will be when the cup is still hot, but this Tanzania is fruit-forward right from the get go. When hot, there are notes of strawberry, huckleberry, and raspberry, along with raw honey and a burned caramel finish. As the coffee cools, the flavors shift toward concord grape and sweet citrus, along with a tropical note of pineapple juice. There’s also an element of floral hops, that along with the fruits, tastes of an IPA. The body is creamy, and along with the fruited, sweet profile, will make a very interesting SO espresso.

Roasting Coffee for Coffee Wine

home roast Tanzanian peaberry coffee for coffee wineI ordered up two pounds and started playing with the roast until I got flavors that I really liked: sweet berry notes, just a little bit of tang, a hint of honey, and a little bit of pecan in the finish. The roast was a cross between city plus and full city almost exactly in the middle of Sweet Maria’s recommendation. The next step was determining the brew method to use there were several that I could have chosen: cold brew, pour over, make individual cups or pots, to name a few. I eventually decided to create a huge pourover Brewer to take advantage of the clarity you get with poured cover.

The Brew

coffee wine in fermentation bucketHaving decided on pourover method, I knew I was not going to make 2 gallons of coffee one cup at a time so I was going to have to get creative. I took a wire mesh strainer lined it with four layers of cheesecloth and set it in the top of 2 gallon bucket. Into that I put 12 ounces of coarsely ground Tanzanian peaberry coffee.

acids for making coffee wine

On the stove, I dissolved 1 pound of light brown sugar and 3 pounds of white sugar into 2 gallons of water and brought it to a boil. I took it off the heat let it cool to 195° and then slowly poured it over the ground coffee into the 2 gallon bucket. The resulting coffee was a little bit weak but had all the flavors that I wanted in my coffee. To that, I added 1 1/2 teaspoons citric acid, three quarters of a teaspoon of mixed fruit acid which included malic acid, tartaric acid and more citric acid, and a quarter teaspoon of wine tannin. I tasted again. The coffee flavor was definitely still there, but it was muted by the not-unpleasant tang of fruit acids. It was actually quite good… A nicely balanced blend of sweetness, bright acidity and underlying cocoa and nutty notes. In other words, something I wouldn’t mind drinking.

Starting the Yeast for Coffee Wine

SuperyeastI have to admit that this is my knowledge weak point. Just as different strains of coffee plants have different flavors, so do different strains of yeast produce different amounts and types of alcohol. I didn’t think this through too clearly before buying: Super Yeast X-press, which is technically a distillers’ yeast, not a wine yeast, so what I end up with may be closer to coffee liqueur or a very sweet dessert wine than coffee wine.

Regardless, I measured out 40 g of the yeast mixture, reconstituted it according to the package directions and let it proof for four hours before adding it to the lukewarm coffee.

[tube]

It has now been about 16 hours since I mixed it in, covered it and plugged it up with a simple 3-piece airlock, and the coffee wine is merrily fermenting away. Since the yeast is supposed to be fast-acting, I’ll be checking it regularly and reporting back with hydrometer measurements over the next couple of weeks. There’s also a good chance that I’ll repeat the experiment with different coffees and different yeasts to see how they work out, so stay tuned for updates on this experiment into making coffee wine.

Have you made coffee wine? I’d love to know how it turned out. Do you want to try making coffee wine yourself? Here’s the recipe I’m following using Tanzanian peaberry coffee. If you try your hand making wine from coffee using this recipe, I’d love to know how it works out, too.

 

UPDATE: this is a learning process, and I learned my first lesson pretty quickly. Do not make 2 gallons of wine in a 2-gallon bucket. You will end up with an overflowing mess. I now have 11/2 gallons of wine fermenting in a 2-gallon bucket and 1/2 gallon of wine fermenting in a 4-liter glass jug. I also couldn’t resist tasting. This could be not bad at all.

Deb Powers has been reading about coffee, drinking coffee, brewing coffee, writing about coffee and roasting her own coffee for nearly 30 years.She confesses to being a coffee wonk and finds endless fascination in even the most meta of coffee information.
Deb Powers on Google+
Deb Powers (Chamie) at ROASTe.com

Deb Powers – who has written posts on CoffeeBreak.Today.


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One Response to "Making Coffee Wine: The Secret Is Good Coffee"

  1. Miguel says:

    This recipe looks easy to do, how long should it take to ferment?

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