Coffee roasters and brewers are passionate about their products and love to talk about all the different flavors that can be found inside a good grind. We can definitely relate, as anyone who has seen us musing over a new whisky or gin at Loki Distillery can confirm.
So we were very pleased when we were approached by a well-known coffee company here in The Netherlands, to produce a new product for them. They had been thinking about putting a coffee liqueur on the market for some time now, but they faced a problem. Everything they tried turned out tasting the same. They used these incredibly aromatic beans from Indonesia. The coffee was deep and aromatic, you could taste wood in there, pepper and even some truffle. But when they macerated the coffee beans in alcohol the result was rather bland. It tasted like a simple instant coffee. All the finesses had vanished.
They tried another one of their special beans, this time from Cuba. The coffee itself was sweet, with lighter tones of vanilla and tonka. Again, steeped in the alcohol it became like a cup of Nescafé. Their conclusion: the alcohol destroys the flavours. They were ready to give up, until one guy said: “Hang on, we are experts on coffee. We know nothing about alcohol. So let’s ask the pro’s”.
Preserving those flavours is not something you can easily do by macerating. The problem isn’t the alcohol destroying the flavours, the problem is the flavours are still in the bean after maceration. So we did one simple test and put the beans into the iStill Extractor. We extracted for 8 hours straight and presented the results to the guys from the coffee company. To be fair; they had to get used to tasting coffee at 40% ABV in the beginning, but they were immediately able to tell the difference between the two samples: one was from Indonesia, the other from Cuba. And that makes sense, as the Extractor will get all the flavours out of a product. But apart from the flavour, they were equally impressed by the speed of the process; eight hours of extraction versus eight weeks of maceration.
All it now needed was a little bit of sugar (well, actually a lot of sugar) to turn this into a proper liqueur. You will find it in their stores in The Netherlands in 2022.
The next guy knocking on our door was carrying a bag of fresh lemon peel. Could we help him out with his limoncello? You can probably guess our answer…