The history of coffee is rich and it goes back hundreds of years. It had been around in Africa long before it was ever discovered by the Middle East, the region that popularized coffee as a beverage very similar to what we drink today: roasted coffee beans. Back then, the drink started to make its way into Europe slowly but steadily. It was incredibly expensive at that time, yet it still caught on. The people of Europe referred to it as the “wine or Araby”.
And, when inspected more closely, the term “wine” was not used in vain. It turns out that back then (16th century) coffee beans traveled in wine barrels, while still green, effectively aging during the trip. In the beginning, the coffee that Europeans drank -and that they fell in love with- was aged coffee; inadvertently aged coffee.
Predictably, this led to more than a few barrels of coffee beans going to waste. If they were too humid during the trip, the beans would go bad by the time they reach their destination. Once demand increased and it became profitable to trade coffee, aged coffee ceased to exist, and in some way disappeared from the world until only just recently.
Aged Coffee Today
Fast forward some hundreds of years until present day, and that same coffee has become one of the world’s most traded commodities- in fact, the second most traded commodity after oil, which is unbelievable. Coffee is today’s most popular drink in almost every single country, with only a few exceptions in countries where similar beverages have existed before coffee; tea, yerba mate, etc.
And it is because of this popularity that aged coffee has become important. What first started as a beverage that would perk you up gained an extraordinary amount of followers around the world who would, by the end of the 20th century, start to become increasingly more preoccupied with the taste and aroma of coffee, rather than its caffeine content.
It was to be a coffee renaissance; hundreds of new coffee drinks would be created, each more interesting than the other. The same way that everybody makes their coffee in their own special way, people were looking for different options. And aged coffee was found.
With an ever-growing fanbase, aged coffee is a term used to refer to green coffee beans that have been aged in liquor barrels, such as whiskey, brandy, wine, and rum barrels. What first started as a local, home-made practice has quickly turned into a serious approach thanks to coffee drinkers that appreciate the delicate, unique flavor of this coffee.
How Do You Age Coffee?
The practice of aging spirits was created exactly like that of aging coffee: completely by accident. Spirits were transported in huge wooden barrels, and people started to notice that the longer that the liquor remained in the barrel, the better it tasted. And so, they kept doing it.
To age something in a barrel allows it to undergo several transformations in a controlled and safe environment. Fermentation creates sugars, for example; in coffee, apart from making it sweeter, it helps reduce acidity. The wood that is used is also very important, as each of these have a distinct smell and taste that will mix with that of coffee, creating a sweeter, unique combination from the two of them.
At Clout Coffee, we pride ourselves in being meticulous during the aging process, ensuring that no bean goes bad and, at the same time, creating an environment where the coffee gains the most flavor and aroma from the aging process.
While fundamentally the same process, aging of coffee has to be very carefully controlled. It’s still a risk today to age coffee, being a hit-or-miss, more so when you don’t have an expert overseeing the aging of coffee. This process has to be done in dark and dry places, with the right temperature for the beans to stay in good condition. It’s done in big batches and can take -depending on how much and the temperature- up to three years, although there are methods for fast aging which can take only a few months, even weeks, achieving similar results.
Aging coffee is a somewhat established practice in countries like India and Indonesia, but it isn’t as popular as it should be. We age coffee beans sourced from the best place this side of the world for growing coffee: Colombia. Colombian beans are low in acidity, have a rather mellow flavor and are particularly good for aging thanks to the climate; it’s easy to keep the beans in perfect condition until they are brought to our facilities, which is more than we can say for more humid or hotter countries.
Why Drink Aged Coffee?
The most obvious reason to try aged coffee is because it is a delicacy. There aren’t any beans or brewing methods that can achieve a flavor like that of aged coffee; it is a delicious experience that you just shouldn’t be missing out on.
Regarding health benefits, it is likely that aged coffee provides certain added benefits that regular coffee doesn’t have; lower acidity and a less irritating effect on the stomach and bowels is the most noticeable one. Then, it is also possible that aged coffee results in a higher intake of magnesium (a nutrient many diets lack in proper quantities), thanks to the process of aging eliminating certain chemicals in the food that inhibits the absorption of other nutrients. Coffee -and this is ironic- is high in magnesium, but also contains chemicals that inhibit its absorption, leading to deficiency.
While most of the science is not completely definitive on this because of aged coffee being a relatively new phenomenon, it is very likely that aging coffee enhances the inherent health benefits of coffee beans which is, to put it mildly, completely awesome. In case you’re not up to date on this, these are just a few of the health benefits of drinking coffee:
Helps Prevent Aging and Fights Disease
Coffee is full of antioxidants. These help neutralize free radicals– which can cause a lot of problems. They are the cause of several forms of cancer and other diseases, and they are the number one cause of premature aging. Thankfully, two cups of coffee a day covers the recommended amount of antioxidants per day. This makes coffee the biggest source of antioxidants in the western world’s diet. Compared to other antioxidant-rich beverages, coffee comes out on top; next would be tea, then red wine.
Boosts Your Metabolism
Studies have shown that coffee, along with a moderately healthy lifestyle, has a significant impact in a person’s metabolism. On the other hand, this metabolism-boosting effect seems to be halved in people that don’t exercise or have unhealthy lifestyles, suggesting that coffee is a perfect addition to a healthy diet. Boosting your metabolism will result in increased energy throughout the day, helping you feel more awake and alert, curbing cravings and aiding in weight loss.
Though a controversial topic until not too long ago, coffee helps lower your cholesterol. The cause of the controversy was due to coffee containing oils responsible both for lowering and increasing cholesterol, so– what was the result? It turns out that the bad oils are mostly kept in the coffee grounds themselves, so as long as you don’t drink those, you’re fine. Bad news for Turkish coffee lovers!
Aged coffee, while still in early stages, is a phenomenon waiting to happen. Big chains seem to have picked up on this; Starbucks launching an aged coffee product, with similar shops following suit is a strong nod to the expectation regarding aged coffee. Still, a good solution to how time-consuming and expensive this coffee is hasn’t been proposed, and in a world that consumes almost more coffee than it can produce (500 billion cups a year, and the numbers are growing rapidly), aged coffee is not profitable for big companies. Fortunately, there are independent producers that care about this type of coffee enough to take the time and effort to bring the unique experience of aged coffee to whoever might be interested in trying it.
I need to order
Would love a sample . I love trying new coffees.
Are you looking for investors?
Tried some of the bourbon aged. Very delightful.
I would like to try some barrel aged coffee, and will it be available in stores?