Coffee mead (or wine)

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bernardsmith

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For those interested in making a coffee wine or mead I just learned something this morning on a radio show called Milk Street Radio (June 4th). Bitter compounds from coffee are water soluble (in fact all the conventional tastes -sweet, salty, umami, bitter and sour are water soluble) but fruity, citrusy flavors etc are essentially aromatics and are sensed through smell and these are alcohol soluble... so that would suggest that to make a less bitter coffee wine or mead the better way to do this is to add the coffee beans to the secondary and not the primary. Use the alcohol to extract flavor and not the water.
 

CKuhns

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Agree @bernardsmith with the statements
"the better way to do this is to add the coffee beans to the secondary and not the primary"
"Use the alcohol to extract flavor and not the water. "

Obviously there are many ways to achieve the coffee flavor. I have found that 1 pound of beans "Cracked" with a rolling pin (not ground) steeped in a 1/2 litre of vodka for 7-10 days. Then strained and added a bit at a time in secondary makes for a very pleasent and not at aall bitter coffee aroma and flavor. (Easier to "dial in" the flavor I prefer.)
 

Dan O

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Agree @bernardsmith with the statements
"the better way to do this is to add the coffee beans to the secondary and not the primary"
"Use the alcohol to extract flavor and not the water. "

Obviously there are many ways to achieve the coffee flavor. I have found that 1 pound of beans "Cracked" with a rolling pin (not ground) steeped in a 1/2 litre of vodka for 7-10 days. Then strained and added a bit at a time in secondary makes for a very pleasent and not at aall bitter coffee aroma and flavor. (Easier to "dial in" the flavor I prefer.)
What is your batch size for 1 pound of coffee, please? I made a batch of coffee mead last year, (1 gallon) that I used 100 grams (3 1/2 ounces) of coffee for. I thought it came out great, but, would be willing to try other ways to see what I like the best. Thanks, in advance.
 

CKuhns

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I try to target 5 gallons to keg or bottle after racking losses. Very close to your 3.5 oz coffe per gallon.
 

Ty520

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Agreed. Although "some" would argue that if it wasn't present in primary, it's a "flavored mead." I get the argument, but coffee, like vanilla, is much better in secondary.

Also, using cold brew method also prevents astringent and bitter flavors.

A little bird once told me that the typical ratio for making cold brew in almost all commercial establishments, including starbucks, is 1 1/3 pounds course ground coffee per gallon, steeped 24 hours. (Assuming you want it to have the same strength as actual coffee).
 

grammar-antifa

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I'm currently planning a coffeemel using the cold brew method. The issue with putting beans in primary isn't so much that you're pulling out more water soluble compounds than alcohol soluble ones and more that you'll likely over-extract the beans unless you've bagged them and pull them out of primary after 24 hours or so. Even then if you don't have the beans in a very, very fine mesh bag, when you remove them you'd likely leave fines behind which can continue to over-extract. At that point you're basically making mead and cold brew simultaneously in the same vessel.

It seems simpler and more controlled to me to do them separately and add the cold brew to the must. I also don't know if doing the extraction in an active fermentation would affect the flavor at all.
 
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bernardsmith

bernardsmith

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Hi grammar-antifa, and welcome. I think the problem is even if you pull the beans after 24 hours (or sooner) you will have tended to extract more of any bitter notes from the beans. By simply adding the beans to the secondary and using alcohol to extract flavors you are not in effect making coffee (cold brewed or otherwise), you are essentially making a coffee tincture. But I would be very curious to know whether your process avoids what is often a flaw with coffee wines and meads- a bitter tasting wine that can take years for the wine to mellow.
 

grammar-antifa

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I'll be sure to make a post about it when it's done. Cold brew is well known for pulling out less of the bitter and acidic compounds than a hot extraction, so I'm optimistic.
 
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bernardsmith

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Strongly agree but I think the bitterness that is nevertheless extracted is " enhanced" (ie magnified) through fermentation. I have yet to enjoy any coffee wine or mead that I have made cold brewed or otherwise and making a coffee mead using the alcohol to extract flavors is on my bucket list for later this summer (too many other country wines are on my list - including elderflower, dandelion, parsnip, wild blueberry, strawberry, elderberry, and rhubarb, not to speak of t'ej).
 

Ty520

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Strongly agree but I think the bitterness that is nevertheless extracted is " enhanced" (ie magnified) through fermentation. I have yet to enjoy any coffee wine or mead that I have made cold brewed or otherwise and making a coffee mead using the alcohol to extract flavors is on my bucket list for later this summer (too many other country wines are on my list - including elderflower, dandelion, parsnip, wild blueberry, strawberry, elderberry, and rhubarb, not to speak of t'ej).
The major flaw in using cold-brew as your must, then pitching, is that so many of the pleasant fruity aromatics and flavonoids will get blown off during fermentation. So, like vanilla beans, even though it would technically be a "tincture" or a "flavored mead" by doing it in secondary, it makes for a far superior product in the end, and is really the only means of preserving the full, rounded aromatic and flavor profile
 

BWRIGHT

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Couldn't one use cold brew for the must AND add coarse ground beans into the secondary post fermentation to try and achieve a more rounded/complete flavor profile?
 
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bernardsmith

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The problem is often not one of a lack of complexity but one of bitterness. Adding more coffee might result in even more bitter flavor notes.
 

Miraculix

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Agree @bernardsmith with the statements
"the better way to do this is to add the coffee beans to the secondary and not the primary"
"Use the alcohol to extract flavor and not the water. "

Obviously there are many ways to achieve the coffee flavor. I have found that 1 pound of beans "Cracked" with a rolling pin (not ground) steeped in a 1/2 litre of vodka for 7-10 days. Then strained and added a bit at a time in secondary makes for a very pleasent and not at aall bitter coffee aroma and flavor. (Easier to "dial in" the flavor I prefer.)
That is precisely how I make my morning coffee.

But why are the co workers staring at me in the kitchen every morning?
 
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BWRIGHT

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I've recently been working on trying to create (or more precisely) improve on other's coffee mead recipes. I made one a few months ago that turned out with mixed results. I used half cold brewed coffee and half water for the must (used 100 g of a light roast coffee and cold brewed it for 24 hours). I just used the regular fine grounds instead of getting whole beans. While I wasn't entirely pleased with the results, I can safely say that bitterness was not an issue. In fact, I added as much cold brew coffee post fermentation as would fit in my 1 gallon carboy to top it off.

While bitterness was not an issue, I believe the use of 71B was not a wise choice. I use it quite a bit for melomels and had it laying around so gave it a go. The finished product had a distinct "tang" to it. I'm contributing it to the 71B "fruitiness" that is widely noted. It wasn't necessarily unpleasant, it was just out of place for this mead. I definitely babied the yeast and kept it around 68F so I don't believe it was any kind of "off" flavor from the yeast.

Round 2 attempt (for anyone interested):

1 gallon cold brew coffee (light roast, brewed 24 hrs, strained through a very fine filter, used 215 g coffee)
3.5 lbs wildflower honey
GoFerm (to rehydrate the yeast)
Fermaid O (TOSNA 2.0 protocol)
OG - 1.130
US-04 (1 packet)

Never used US-04 in a mead but wanted to use a yeast that would reach it's alcohol tolerance around 14-15%. Plan was to have enough honey left over post fermentation that this would end up around 1.015. THEN.......I realized that I had misread and that the alcohol tolerance of US-04 is more like 10-11%. Damn. It's kicking along now. I have no expectation that it will get down to the final gravity that I want. Once it's done, I may throw in a yeast that IS around the 14-15% tolerance mark to try and get it down. I may also just throw in D47 or something that I know will take it dry, stabilize, and backsweeten it.

In an effort to keep the bitterness level down, I racked it from the primary into another carboy in an effort to leave some of the fine coffee sludge at the bottom of the original carboy. I was successful in that effort as there was a fair amount clung to the bottom.

Depending on the where this finalizes at, I'm considering vanilla in the secondary as well as backsweetening with lactose (if necessary).

I'm trying to screw it up. If I could start over (and likely in version 3.0) I will used coarse ground beans and another choice in yeast. Something neutral. Any thoughts?
 
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BWRIGHT

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Actually, depending on how this one turns out, I may go with the rough ground beans in secondary approach. That certainly seems like a sound/logical option but I would love to pin down a recipe using beans in the fermentation process. Or just coffee in the fermentation process. Don't need the beans per se. Seems some zymurgy magic may be lost otherwise.
 

Ty520

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I've recently been working on trying to create (or more precisely) improve on other's coffee mead recipes. I made one a few months ago that turned out with mixed results. I used half cold brewed coffee and half water for the must (used 100 g of a light roast coffee and cold brewed it for 24 hours). I just used the regular fine grounds instead of getting whole beans. While I wasn't entirely pleased with the results, I can safely say that bitterness was not an issue. In fact, I added as much cold brew coffee post fermentation as would fit in my 1 gallon carboy to top it off.

While bitterness was not an issue, I believe the use of 71B was not a wise choice. I use it quite a bit for melomels and had it laying around so gave it a go. The finished product had a distinct "tang" to it. I'm contributing it to the 71B "fruitiness" that is widely noted. It wasn't necessarily unpleasant, it was just out of place for this mead. I definitely babied the yeast and kept it around 68F so I don't believe it was any kind of "off" flavor from the yeast.

Round 2 attempt (for anyone interested):

1 gallon cold brew coffee (light roast, brewed 24 hrs, strained through a very fine filter, used 215 g coffee)
3.5 lbs wildflower honey
GoFerm (to rehydrate the yeast)
Fermaid O (TOSNA 2.0 protocol)
OG - 1.130
US-04 (1 packet)

Never used US-04 in a mead but wanted to use a yeast that would reach it's alcohol tolerance around 14-15%. Plan was to have enough honey left over post fermentation that this would end up around 1.015. THEN.......I realized that I had misread and that the alcohol tolerance of US-04 is more like 10-11%. Damn. It's kicking along now. I have no expectation that it will get down to the final gravity that I want. Once it's done, I may throw in a yeast that IS around the 14-15% tolerance mark to try and get it down. I may also just throw in D47 or something that I know will take it dry, stabilize, and backsweeten it.

In an effort to keep the bitterness level down, I racked it from the primary into another carboy in an effort to leave some of the fine coffee sludge at the bottom of the original carboy. I was successful in that effort as there was a fair amount clung to the bottom.

Depending on the where this finalizes at, I'm considering vanilla in the secondary as well as backsweetening with lactose (if necessary).

I'm trying to screw it up. If I could start over (and likely in version 3.0) I will used coarse ground beans and another choice in yeast. Something neutral. Any thoughts?
coffee can have a quite a fruity tang to it - it is a fruit after all. so the varietal you use can play a big role.

roast and varietal will also heavily influence bitterness.

Also cold brew works wonders in taming bitterness, and accentuating fruitiness.

for my next coffee mead, i am considering D254, Uvaferm VRB, CY3079 or even BM4x4, but it will depend on which coffee I end up using
 

BWRIGHT

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You. Interested in why you are choosing those particular strains; what characteristics you are hoping to create/maintain with them.

That same sort of fruity "tang" has developed in my current batch. My gameplan is to use coarse ground beans in secondary to try and round out the flavor. Will taste daily to make sure the bitterness stays in check.

I'm curious about your yeast choices because outside of the alcohol extaction in secondary technique, i think experimenting outside the box with yeast selection could be key here.

I've yet to find where someone was quite pleased with their coffeemel; maybe it's time that changed.
 
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Dan O

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You. Interested in why you are choosing those particular strains; what characteristics you are hoping to create/maintain with them.

That same sort of fruity "tang" has developed in my current batch. My gameplan is to use coarse ground beans in secondary to try and round out the flavor. Will taste daily to make sure the bitterness stays in check.

I'm curious about your yeast choices because outside of the alcohol extaction in secondary technique, i think experimenting outside the box with yeast selection could be key here.

I've yet to find where someone was quite pkeased with their coffeemel; maybe it's time that changed.
I made a coffeemel back in August of 2020 & I thought it was great. This was the recipe I used.

100 grams of very coarsely ground Peet's House blend, dark roast coffee, cold brewed in a BIAB grain bag, 3 quarts of Poland Springs spring water for 24 hrs on the counter, covered. Filtered through a coffee filter to catch any sediment. (It didn't look like an overly strong batch of coffee, but, the flavor is intense without being too strong.)
3 1/2 lbs London Buzz Apiary Wildflower honey,
1/2 packet of 71B yeast, rehydrated for 1 hr beforehand in Poland Springs spring water,
Poland Springs spring water to 1 gallon.

This was before I joined this group & knew ANYTHING about SNA's, pH levels, or yeast happiness. Since making this, I have pretty much switched to BOMM protocols for all my meads.

This finished sweet, 1.030....more of a dessert mead than the semi-sweet I was hoping for. Since making this one, (& many more), I have gotten better @ calculating my sugars. Next time it will be 3 lbs vs. 3 1/2 lbs. I thought I would need the extra 1/2 pound of honey to counter any bitterness, but, that was not the case @ all. There was no bitterness to the cold brew & even though it finished sweet, it was still very pleasant to drink & the coffee notes weren't burped out in primary. I may try my next coffeemel with 1388 & see what kind of BOMM it produces.🤔🤨
I will also try the method of making a traditional & adding a coffee infused vodka solution as suggested by @CKuhns & others to see which I like best.
As far as the bitterness goes, in my experience, bitterness seems to be extracted from the beans much more by HOT water vs. cold. Any cold brew I've either bought or made myself has been sweet , not bitter. Not saying anyone else is wrong, that's just what I've experienced.

I hope this helps you.
Happy meading 😎
 

BWRIGHT

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That is interesting. I am surprised that using dark roast coffee beans did not produce the familiar overbearing bitterness that has been frequently produced. Did you happen to taste your cold brew coffee prior to fermentation? I have been using light roast coffee in an effort to avoid the bitterness/astringency.

I'm wondering if the high finishing gravity was just masking/counterbalancing the bitterness.

Also assumimg not using any yeast nutrient is why your yeast crapped out at 1.030. 71B should have taken your OG all the way to dry. Hell, all the way to .996. I'm aiming to have a a finished product more in the 1.005-1.008 range.
 

Dan O

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That is interesting. I am surprised that using dark roast coffee beans did not produce the familiar overbearing bitterness that has been frequently produced. Did you happen to taste your cold brew coffee prior to fermentation? I have been using light roast coffee in an effort to avoid the bitterness/astringency.

I'm wondering if the high finishing gravity was just masking/counterbalancing the bitterness.

Also assumimg not using any yeast nutrient is why your yeast crapped out at 1.030. 71B should have taken your OG all the way to dry. Hell, all the way to .996. I'm aiming to have a a finished product more in the 1.005-1.008 range.
Yes, I did taste it before I used it & it was not bitter. As I said, in my own experience, cold brew, made with cold water, to me, is not bitter. Also remember, peoples tastes & palettes differ from person to person. What I say isn't bitter to me could be off the scale to you or someone else.
As far as why it stalled, I never did make any real progress on a definitive answer. 71B has served me well for the most part. I've used it in many of my meads, but, even with only 3 pounds of honey, it's never gone below 1.007 on any of them. Not a problem for me, as I prefer semisweet meads anyways. Since then I use BOMM feeding protocols on all of my meads & have had great results.
I hope this answers your question.
Happy meading 😎
 

Ty520

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You. Interested in why you are choosing those particular strains; what characteristics you are hoping to create/maintain with them.
I am considering 254 for it's jammy, butterscotch, cream, smoke, hazelnut, and almond profile

I am considering VRB for its jammy, hazelnut profile

and I am considering 3079 for its butter, toasted bread, honey, hazelnut and almond profile - but from my research, it takes a bit of aging on the lees to coax out those qualities in 3079; otherwise, you end up with tropical, floral notes.

I think 254 is probably going to be the frontrunner, but i will probably first try to find my coffee source before i pull the trigger.

also, cold brewing will greatly help minimize bitterness and astringency regardless of roast level
 

BWRIGHT

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US04 took it down to 1.038 (12% ABV). Tasted it and it definitely still has what I described as an "off" flavor though not quite the same as attempt 1. Doesn't seem that 71b was the culprit but rather fermentation alone. That said, at 1.038 it tastes quite sweet for me (maybe some bitterness would actually help here).

I rehydrated a packet of 71b in Go Ferm, step fed it with some of the coffee must over a few hours and got it up to maybe a half liter starter. Pitched that and raised the temp up from from around 68-70 to 72-74. Whatever the 71b takes it down to, I will dilute with more cold brewed coffee if it's still too sweet. If not, I still may rack it on to some coarse ground beans again. The coffee flavor is strong but isn't dominant/forward as I was hoping. Still have confidence in this but probably will go straight to brewing a traditional at around 14-15% and just racking that onto a good amount of beans, then just taste regularly and see what happens. If the coffee flavor is dominant at that point, I may add some hot brewed coffee to bring it in?????
 

grammar-antifa

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My coffeemel finished fermenting a week or two ago and I racked to secondary today. Initial observations:

Bitterness isn't a problem. Coffee aroma is very prominent on the nose, but not immediately recognizable on the palate. You can definitely tell there's something there, but it's not nearly as obvious as on the nose. There's a slight acidity that wasn't noticeable in the original cold brew. I'm planning on backsweetening and letting it sit for a bit before deciding if I want to make a coffee tincture and/or add additional cold brew to boost the coffee flavor. I'm also going to take at least a gallon of it and add some additional flavorings.. a vanilla bean, maybe some cacao nibs. I'll probably oak some or all of it. This also finished faster than I expected. I skipped the final nutrient addition because when I checked to see if it had hit the 1/3 sugar break it was at more like 2/3. Anyone know if coffee contains a non-negligible quantity of YAN?

My notes:
2 gal cold brew concentrate
2 gal water
1 gal coffee blossom honey
1 lb lactose
10g 71b, pitched dry

OG: 1.1, FG: 1.01
6/27 - started
6/28 - 4.3g Fermaid O + degas
6/29 - 4.5g Fermaid O + degas
6/30 - 4.7g Fermaid K + 1.6g DAP
7/2 - degas, SG: 1.03
7/15 - rack to secondary, SG: 1.01, 0.2g/gal kmeta
 

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BWRIGHT

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The 71b never took off. Took it down a few points and then crapped out. It's is WAY too sweet. In an attempt to salvage this, I brewed up more cold brew, removed 2 cups of the finished mead, replaced it with 2 cups of cold brew, and gave it a taste. Still over the top sweet. If I had a traditional in the pipeline I would just blend it until I like it but I don't. I added a 1/2 cup of coarse ground coffee beans to it as well to just try and kind of overpower the sweetness with more coffee flavor.

Think I'll go straight to making a strong traditional, then adding coarse ground beans to the finished product. Backsweeten if necessary. Not giving up on this as I'm certain there is an excellent product waiting to be produced here.

Grammar Antifa: Very interested in hearing where your results end up. I'm thinking another ingredient(s) would help bring all of this together (as mentioned before). Vanilla and cacao nibs definitely seem logical. Think you might consider adding some coarse beans to your secondary as well. Looks like you used 1/2 cold brew for your must. I used 100% cold brew for the must and definitely was lacking in coffee flavor post fermentation.
 

grammar-antifa

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Heh, I had the opposite experience with regards to sweetness. I used 71b for a traditional and it finished at 1.03. I personally prefer to err more on the sweet side than bone dry, but I was aiming for more like 1.015. The coffee mead with 71b went completely dry, aside from the unfermentable lactose, and needs backsweetening.

What I used for the must was basically 100% cold brew at the strength you would drink it. I made a cold brew concentrate with 5# coarsely ground coffee and ~3.5-4 gal. water steeped for almost a day at room temp.. it's way too strong to drink undiluted.
 

BWRIGHT

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I think 1.010-1.015 would be about right for this. My problem was using US04 with too high of a starting gravity. I mistakenly thought it's tolerance was 14%.
 
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