Remember the days when whiskey barrel aging was just for, well, whiskey? Those days are long gone. As of March 6, you can get a cup of Starbucks coffee made using whiskey barrel aged beans.
The coffee, called Starbucks Reserve Whiskey Barrel Aged Sulawesi, is a very limited batch sold exclusively at the Seattle Roastery. You can drink it in two specialty drinks, a cold brew and the “Barrel Aged Con Crema,” as well as buy a scoop of whole coffee beans you can French press at your own leisure.
“As a chef and a food scientist, experimentation is central to my being,” Duane Thompson, a member of Starbucks’ research and development team, says in a statement. “My neighbors would tease me about all the barrels in my garage. I’d play with infusing spices like cinnamon sticks and cardamom just to see what flavors would be imparted.”
Violà, a coffee primed for customers who, in Thompson’s words, “are seeking an immersive, sensorial experience that the craftsmanship of barrel-aged coffee delivers.”
To get that whiskey flavor, Starbucks starts with an 800-pound batch of unroasted Sulawesi beans. They put those beans into a used barrel made of American Oak from a cooper in Washington State called Woodinville Whiskey Company. Then the beans rest for several weeks, taking in those residual whiskey flavors still in the barrel. The beans are rotated to make sure all of them sit on the oak just the right amount.
Finally, the beans are roasted. The alcohol is burned off but the whiskey flavor stays. The resulting coffee has “earthy notes mingling with the oak to create a cup that’s unlike any other.”
Whiskey barrels aren’t just for whiskey anymore, and if you’re in the Seattle area, you can get a barrel-roasted taste for yourself — while supplies last, that is.