Coffee Techniques

Homebrew Talk - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Forum

Help Support Homebrew Talk - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Forum:

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.


Well-Known Member
Oct 31, 2008
Reaction score
Colorado Springs
I'm planning on making a coffee porter this weekend. Here's my recipe so far:

8 lbs. 2 row
1/3 lb chocolate malt
1/3 lb toasted malt
1/3 lb black patent malt
1/2 lb crystal 60L
(maybe add some molasses, brown sugar. etc?)

Total 9.5 lbs.

1.045 OG
26.5 SRM
20.7 IBU (trying to keep this low, read on...)
Targetting 5.25 gallons into primary

~ 1/2 oz perle/northern brewer for about (target 18-20 IBU) @ 60 min
~ 1/2 oz fuggle / williamette @ 15 min

coffee ?

My first question is about the technique used to add the coffee. I'm going to use some freshly home-roasted coffee. I've heard of people doing several different things:

- Add cold-brewed coffee
- Add normal brewed coffee
- use whole/coarsely grounded coffee at end of boil, during cooling, in primary/secondary, etc.

I'm leaning towards adding some coarsely grounded coffee to the primary 2-3 days before I rack to the secondary. I've done lots of cold brew and french press coffee and have found time and time again that shorter tends to be better, so I don't want to leave them in for too long.

I was also wondering about the coffee and hoppy flavors clashing, so I'm trying to keep the IBU towards the lower end (I'm shooting for about 20.) Anyone with experience here -- what have you found?

I find that the flavor of the brewed coffee dumped into secondary or the keg is the strongest and most bitter. I haven't tried adding grounds to the boil but would expect them to be similar, maybe not as strong. My preference is to cold steep the coffee for 24 hrs. and add it to the keg. The flavor is subtle and sweet.
Looks similar to a stout that I just did for SWMBO. Mine had 1/2lb. of Malto-Dextrine for mouthfeel and sweetness and 1 vanilla bean during the boil.
I made a coffee stout a couple of months ago. Obviously use the highest quality beans you can (just want to say this out loud, when I was doing my research people were talking about how much Folders to add to the secondary....ugh).

I’ve only used one technique, so I can’t contrast and compare, but I did a cold brew in my French press, about one ‘pot’ of coffee for a 5 gal batch, 24 hours in the fridge, then added to the secondary for two weeks. Turned out great.
I think I might just add the whole beans to the secondary for at least 5 days. I worry that using grounds would make a big mess. Perhaps I'll lightly crush the beans instead, and maybe put them in a hop bag or similar.

The beans will be very fresh; I am actually roasting them as I type this :) They are some Blue Mountain coffee that was just flown in. I'm going for a pretty dark roast, probably pushing "French Roast."

I'm a very big fan of cold brewing. Letting them sit in the secondary should be a very similar process.

More than anything, I'm curious to know how long is too long. Like I said, I find with the french press that more than about 5 minutes and it starts tasting pretty awful.
On bottling day I used the microwave to heat ~ 1 liter of my beer to ~ 180 degrees in a sanitized french press. I added some freshly ground coffee,pressed it and poured the mixture into my bottling bucket and bottled it. Worked great!
caveat: I have never tried this personally

A local microbrewery here in Japan (Hitachino Nest) puts whole beans in the secondary. I can say with a good deal of confidence that their Coffee Stout is (was.. it is seasonal I think) awesome.

All that being said, I have no idea how much they put in, just that this is how they do it.

If someone out there has tried this... let me/us know how it turned out. I am by no means an expert (at making coffee or beer) so while I can see it working... i.e. if you leave the whole beans in long enough, flavor should come out... right? :cross:
I also gave this a whirl a few weeks back. I bought a kit that was a coffee stout. I am turning it into a mint coffee chocolate stout. I added .5# of coffee cold steeped 24 hours in 2 quarts of water. I then added it to the secondary. I also have one cup of cocoa in the secondary. It has been sitting for a month. I sampled it yesterday and wow, it is pretty tasty. The coffee really sticks out, but it is not bitter, or harsh. I used the .25# that came with the kit, and .25# of my own home roasted beans.
As for adding the beans to the secondary, if you don't crush them, will they still steep?
If you crushed them, I believe they would sink to the bottom and all would be ok.
Cold coffee is definitely the way to go. My fiance's father has one of these: Filtron Cold Water Coffee Brewing System - FREE SHIPPING Not required, but it makes things a bit easier. One of the big advantages of the cold coffee method is that it doesn't pull the bitter acids out of the beans, so the coffee has a really smooth flavor. It doesn't have a lot of bite to it, but that's not what you're looking for anyway.

I used 1/4 lb of coffee for 5 gallons as well, it seems to be a good amount. I actually kind of wish that I had not put all the extract in yet though, so I could tune the flavor a bit. It was a bit coffee forward right after I put it into secondary, but that may mellow over time.
yeah you don't need a special device to cold brew coffee. Put some cold water in a large glass, put the grounds in there and let them steep them overnight. Filter with something (I have a french press laying around) and put the resulting liquid in your beer.
Sorry for the dumb question, but are you assuming the beans to be "sanitary" enough as packaged? Or should the cold pressed beer then be boiled? Or just leave it as is and trust the beer gods to do their voodoo?

I made a coffee brew a while back starting with an extract recipe from another user--Big Kahuna??. Recipe called for a cup of fresh ground coffee steeped in 1/2 gallon of water. I ended up steeping 1/2 POUND of coffee on accident (kinda expensive cause I used Kona coffee). I bought whole beans, ground them coarsely in my blender and tossed them in a grain sack. I steeped for 30 minutes at 160-180 degrees for 30 minutes, then pulled the pot off the stove, covered it, and stuck it in the fridge while I finished the rest of the brew. I added it to my primary before I dropped the yeast. Regular fermentation and conditioning. It was awesome. I called it Java Jolt beer.

Don't worry about the coffee clashing with the hops...