Coffee Infuses New Products to Creative Cocktails
JAVA JOINS THE PARTY, so move over Tia Maria, make way Kahlua. In the last few years, a new generation of coffee-infused spirits, liqueurs, beers, and, yes, even caffeinated wines, are waking up mixologists and merchants to new flavor possibilities.
While classic coffee-infused liqueurs noted above and relative newcomers like Patrón XO Café (introduced in 2012) merit prime shelf space and prominent back-bar placements, a crop of audaciously named upstarts include: Death Wish Coffee Vodka, Albany Distilling Co., NY; BOMB, a coffee-infused ale from Prairie Artisan Ales, Tulsa, OK; Café Agave Mocha, a 13.8% abv coffee-flavored creamer by Café Agave, San Diego, CA; Firelit Coffee Spirits Liqueur, Firelit Spirits, San Francisco, CA; Dark-Natural Coffee Liqueur, Prairie Wolf Spirits, Guthrie OK; Cabernet Coffee Espresso and Chardonnay Coffee Cappuccino from Friends Fun Wine, Aventura, FL; and Molinari Café’s new wine-infused coffee roast, whose beans (before roasting) are immersed in a red wine blend sourced from Napa, CA, among others.
Assessing coffee-driven innovation percolating through spirits, beer and wine, Giorgio Milos, Master Barista, illy caffe North America, a leading Italian premium coffee purveyor, says, “Mixologists, distillers and brewers are always looking for new ingredients and finally they realized that coffee is very versatile.”
Zach Prichard, Owner, Prairie Artisan Ales, agrees, adding: “Coffee-beers have been around for at least a generation, but brewers have been using coffee in more ways recently, especially with lighter styles like IPA, sours and seasonals.”
Following a trip to New Orleans where he enjoyed chicory-flavored coffee, Dave Smith, Head Distiller, St. George Artisan Spirits, Alameda, CA, created NOLA Coffee Liqueur, a blend of French-roasted chicory, non-GMO corn-based spirits, organic cane sugar, Madagascar vanilla bean, and coffee from Jewel Box Coffee Roasters in Oakland. While St. George was established in 1982, NOLA is relatively new to its portfolio, says Smith; launched in 2014, it has a SRP of $35.
Grounds “Know No Bounds”
Zach Brinley, Chief Bootlegger, Brinley Gold Shipwreck Rum, Atlantic Highlands, NJ, which markets its Shipwreck Coffee-flavored Rum from St. Kitts, says, “The craft revolution in spirits, wine and beer knows no bounds, and coffee is now entering this transformation.”
In 2016, Kobrick Coffee Co., a Jersey City, NJ-based roaster founded in 1920, opened a café Manhattan’s Meatpacking District that serves a variety coffee-infused cocktails. It’s been thronged since day one, according to Samuel Ta, Head Barista, who says one of bar’s best-sellers is the “Loca Mocha”, a cocktail comprised of Ancho Chile liqueur, Jameson Irish whiskey, chocolate milk, cold-brewed Kobrick coffee, and Hella aromatic bitters. Another top pick is the “Marin Boulevardier”, made of Four Roses Bourbon, Campari, Contratto Rosso, Kyoto-dripped, single-origin Burundi Rugoza coffee.
Adds Scott Kobrick, Vice President and a fourth-generation member of the Kobrick family: “In opening in Manhattan, we encouraged our baristas to be innovative in creating signature cocktails. We are extremely happy with our growing following.”
Obtaining Ideal Shelf Positioning
What is the best way to merchandise these assorted coffee-inspired brands? Brinley suggests one key advantage: “We would do better if our Shipwreck Coffee Rum were positioned next to Kahlua and Tia Maria, instead of in the rum section.” In other words, merchants might consider re-shelving these diverse coffee-related brands into a dedicated “coffee corner” of a store.
Gary Fisch, Owner and CEO, Gary’s Wine and Marketplace, with four locations in New Jersey, says: “Zach Brinley’s suggestion makes sense. In fact, I’m going to start grouping all my coffee-infused spirits from Van Gogh Espresso Vodka to Patrón XO Café to Shipwreck Coffee Rum in my stores; it’s a great idea.”
Editor’s Note: The author would like to thank Beverage Media for permission to run this article, which appears in the May 2017 issue of Beverage Media Magazine.