How To Use Coffee In Your Next Homebrew

I don’t think it’s a secret that I love coffee, just as much as I love beer, so it’s only natural that I want combine my two favorite beverages when I homebrew.

I couldn’t wait to add coffee a beer that I was making, in fact the second beer that I homebrewed had coffee in it. However, when it came to add coffee to my homebrew, I wasn’t exactly sure how to do it or when to add it. There was a lot of information online about how and when, but it was often conflicting and usually confusing.

I decided to try a few different methods in sort of a quest to find the perfect way to add coffee.

What I found was that cold brewed coffee created the taste and flavor. It was smooth and still had lots of coffee flavor that mixed well with the stouts I was brewing. I used a Toddy to cold brew my coffee, instead of brewing it with a coffee maker. I found that hot brewed coffee resulted in a bitter coffee flavor in the end result.

I use about a cup of cold brewed coffee per five gallons of beer. It may not seem like a lot, but cold brew coffee is concentrated and it’s enough to give a coffee flavor to the whole beer without over powering the other flavors.

I discovered that adding the cold brewed coffee into the secondary or bottling bucket, resulted in a distinctive coffee taste but not too strong.

As with all homebrewing, I’m careful to make sure that everything is clean and sanitized. I make sure to sanitize the Toddy with my Starsan. However, the coffee itself I leave unsanitized. I know some people like to boil it or treat it in vodka, but those both add off flavors that I don’t want in my beer. I think that by waiting to add the beer to the secondary or the bottling bucket, the alcohol is strong enough to protect the beer from anything dangerous that might be lurking in the coffee.

On my list of things to try is adding ground coffee in a muslin bag added directly to the secondary. I will try it and report back on how it goes.

It never hurts to keep experimenting to see what tastes the best to you. And remember the better the coffee, the better the flavor, so don’t use that Foldgers or Maxwell House that’s been sitting in your kitchen cabinet for ages.

Make sure you follow Passion For The Pint on Facebook or Twitter so that you can keep expanding your homebrewing knowledge. If you’re looking to take it a step further, there’s an online course for homebrewing called the HomeBrew Academy. I’ll be reviewing it later this month.

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  • Avandercoy

    Great post Mike. I was looking all around for this type of straight forward information and couldn’t find much help. Anyways, I added cold brewed coffee without a Toddy to my Secondary Orange Chocolate Oatmeal Coffee Stout. Crazy combinations but I thought I’d experiment with this. Dreamed about it actually. I also heard the secondary with cold brew will have that smooth taste and not just like someone dumped coffee grounds into the beer at the last moment creating very bitter aftertaste. The only problem, I added about 1 Gallon to a 7.5 gallon batch and I think I added a crazy amount but maybe it will surprise me. I will be bottling it on the 17th for 3 weeks. Wish me luck and you have a new subscriber!

    • Avandercoy

      I should say I added cold brew from 1 pound of coffee from a local brewer so all together probably 1/2 a gallon 

      • http://www.passionforthepint.com Mike Crimmins

        Good luck with this batch! I have a feeling it’s going to turn out pretty good even with that much coffee. I think it’ll mix well with those other flavors. It may be a crazy combination but it sounds good to me, but then again I love experimenting with my beers. You’ll have to let me know it turns out. Thanks for stopping by and checking out my blog, I hope the info is helpful.

  • http://twitter.com/LadroRoasting Ladro

    I’m interested to see how folks begin to explore the other notes in coffee that are less roast-focused and more coffee-focused.  For example, less stouts and porters and more IPAs and other styles taking advantage of the amazingly complex acids and other flavors in lightly roasted, beautiful coffees.  Toddy’s great for adding a big boost of generic coffee and roast flavor, but I found this combination more creative and exciting: http://www.tropicalsaloon.com/?p=309.  

    Happy brewing!http://www.ratebeer.com/beer/the-kernel-suke-quto-coffee-ipa/138692/

    • http://www.passionforthepint.com Mike Crimmins

      Ladro, thanks for sharing those links. It was the first time that I’ve seen coffee used in non-stour/porter. It’s something that I want to try, I do think it would bring out more of the coffee flavors and could work in some other beers.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve added a half-pound of ground beans directly to the boil of a stout- last 5 minutes, so the grounds are more of an aromatic addition, but then it “cool brews” during fermentation.

    • http://www.passionforthepint.com Mike Crimmins

      Kayrcee, I haven’t tried five minutes yet. I tried 15 minutes and it came out bitter and over extracted. I’ll have to experiment with less time.