A "damn fine cup of coffee," unfettered by milk or cream, is great. It is essentially my lifeblood. However, if you were to offer me, oh, I don't know, a choice between Starbucks' new Barrel Aged Cold Brew or Barrel Aged Con Crema and a regular cup of drip coffee, the choice would be simple: Barrel aged, please!
In announcement today, Starbucks introduced their new limited edition specialty drinks, available exclusively at the Starbucks Reserve Roastery in Seattle, Wash. The process for making the Starbucks Reserve Whiskey Barrel Aged Sulawesi coffee that goes into these delightful-sounding beverages begins with an 800-pound batch of "green" (un-roasted) Starbucks Reserve Sulawesi beans, hand-sorted and scooped. For those of you not intimately familiar with the inner workings of the coffee world, 800 pounds is a notably small batch. Yeah, these are special.
Typically, coffee is stored in burlap sacks; these beans, however, are aged in recently-emptied whiskey barrels for several weeks (specifically, American Oak-Aged Whiskey Barrels from Woodinville Whiskey, Co.), which allows them to soak up the flavor and aroma of whiskey. The beans are routinely shifted to ensure an equal flavor capture.
If you're not a big alcohol drinker, don't worry — any actual alcohol content the beans acquire burns off during the roasting process. "Exploring the potential of coffee and marrying nontraditional experiences and techniques together is something we’re experimenting with daily,"said Duane Thompson of the Starbucks beverage R&D team in a recent press release.
This whiskey barrel-aged coffee is then used as the basis for several new drinks. You've got: The Barrel Aged Cold Brew, which is sweetened with vanilla syrup (also barrel-aged — they've gone barrel bananas!) in a carafe. The cold-brewing process allows for a super complex layering of flavors to develop.
And then, there's the Barrel Aged Con Crema, a hot pour-over blended with that barrel-aged vanilla syrup and topped with cold-foaming cascara sugar. OH HECK YEAH.
If you're in the Seattle area, run to the Roastery. This drinks are limited edition and, if these photos are any indication, are amazing tasting and will fly off the... counter? Roaster? Table? Whatever, they'll be in demand. Grab 'em all while you can.