Author Topic: Using coffee in stouts - what works best?  (Read 1237 times)

Offline syncopadence

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Using coffee in stouts - what works best?
« on: April 03, 2015, 06:18:02 PM »
So I've tried using about 30oz of cold brewed medium roast Ethiopian into the bottling bucket of a 5 gallon batch, and the flavor was minimal, and I'm wondering if it's what killed the head retention. So I'm debating on using a dark roast espresso to being out the flavor more, but would this be ok? Do the oils kill head retention? What do you guys use?

Offline Stevie

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Re: Using coffee in stouts - what works best?
« Reply #1 on: April 03, 2015, 06:30:20 PM »
Oil certainly does affect head retention. I don't get much oil when I cold brew using a french press. One key step is to not stir before pressing, stirring releases sediment and oil in my experience. I normally brew 8oz of dark espresso/italian/french roast in my 50oz french press. Extract is around 28-32oz. I gave up on dosing and add the whole shebang into the keg. Strong coffee flavor. Lighter roasts tend to have less oil on them, but I don't know if that translates into less oil after grinding.

Offline HoosierBrew

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Re: Using coffee in stouts - what works best?
« Reply #2 on: April 03, 2015, 06:34:05 PM »
I add roughly cracked/crushed beans in a fine mesh bag into the keg and pull the bag when the flavor is where I like. There's maybe a slight amount of foam loss, but not much doing it this way.
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Re: Using coffee in stouts - what works best?
« Reply #3 on: April 03, 2015, 06:39:06 PM »
Oil certainly does affect head retention. I don't get much oil when I cold brew using a french press. One key step is to not stir before pressing, stirring releases sediment and oil in my experience. I normally brew 8oz of dark espresso/italian/french roast in my 50oz french press. Extract is around 28-32oz. I gave up on dosing and add the whole shebang into the keg. Strong coffee flavor. Lighter roasts tend to have less oil on them, but I don't know if that translates into less oil after grinding.
You're saying you use 8oz of beans added to 50oz of water? And French press is how I did it too, but I can't remember if I stirred before pressing or not. I think I might filter it right before adding it to the bucket to reduce oils. Also, any experience using actual espresso instead of regular coffee? My concern is that it would become overpowering really quick.

Offline Stevie

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Re: Using coffee in stouts - what works best?
« Reply #4 on: April 03, 2015, 07:12:32 PM »
It's less than 50oz of water, but the french press is 50oz. Maybe 40oz of water? I have run it through a filter using a pour over filter holder, it took for ever to trickle through and I had to keep topping it off. Maybe it would be easier with a large chemex.


I was taught to never stir with a french press. Wetting the coffee and giving it a flick of the wrist to ensure coating is all that should be needed. It's best to also allow the coffee to bloom for a minute before adding all of the water. This drives of most of the CO2 which can add to the acidity. Once bloomed, add the rest of the water.



Never tried espresso, but it does become bitter quickly, so it might not be the best route.

Offline duncan

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Re: Using coffee in stouts - what works best?
« Reply #5 on: April 03, 2015, 07:28:37 PM »
So I've tried using about 30oz of cold brewed medium roast Ethiopian into the bottling bucket of a 5 gallon batch, and the flavor was minimal, and I'm wondering if it's what killed the head retention. So I'm debating on using a dark roast espresso to being out the flavor more, but would this be ok? Do the oils kill head retention? What do you guys use?

When cold steeping, the type of coffee you use is really important. I've made two coffee stouts to date by adding cold steeped coffee. One came out pretty great and the other was bland and underwhelming.

The great one had a really dark, robust coffee (I think it was a Mexican roast) with lots of roasty flavors. The bland one used beans (Sumatran, I think) that had less roasty characters and more acidity and fruity qualities. You could definitely taste the acidity, but it wasn't really the roasty-ness I was hoping for that compliments a oatmeal stout (though I could see it potentially being interesting in a Foreign stout). I spoke with some local baristas about making cold brewed coffee just for drinking in the morning, and most said you should definitely opt for the darker, more robust roasts when cold steeping since less flavor is extracted than a hot brew. I made cold steep coffee out of the rest of the acidic beans mentioned above, and I didn't even really enjoy that on it's own, never mind in a beer, though it's my go-to hot coffee.

Oh...and espresso sounds like it would be delicious, too!!
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Offline syncopadence

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Re: Using coffee in stouts - what works best?
« Reply #6 on: April 03, 2015, 07:31:45 PM »
It's less than 50oz of water, but the french press is 50oz. Maybe 40oz of water? I have run it through a filter using a pour over filter holder, it took for ever to trickle through and I had to keep topping it off. Maybe it would be easier with a large chemex.


I was taught to never stir with a french press. Wetting the coffee and giving it a flick of the wrist to ensure coating is all that should be needed. It's best to also allow the coffee to bloom for a minute before adding all of the water. This drives of most of the CO2 which can add to the acidity. Once bloomed, add the rest of the water.


Never tried espresso, but it does become bitter quickly, so it might not be the best route.

I haven't heard about the no stirring thing before, and I do it every time I make my coffee, but I'm definitely going to give that a try. From the sound of everything, it seems I just should have used a darker roast, and maybe filtered it. Thanks for the help!


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Re: Using coffee in stouts - what works best?
« Reply #7 on: April 03, 2015, 07:40:36 PM »
So I've tried using about 30oz of cold brewed medium roast Ethiopian into the bottling bucket of a 5 gallon batch, and the flavor was minimal, and I'm wondering if it's what killed the head retention. So I'm debating on using a dark roast espresso to being out the flavor more, but would this be ok? Do the oils kill head retention? What do you guys use?

When cold steeping, the type of coffee you use is really important. I've made two coffee stouts to date by adding cold steeped coffee. One came out pretty great and the other was bland and underwhelming.

The great one had a really dark, robust coffee (I think it was a Mexican roast) with lots of roasty flavors. The bland one used beans (Sumatran, I think) that had less roasty characters and more acidity and fruity qualities. You could definitely taste the acidity, but it wasn't really the roasty-ness I was hoping for that compliments a oatmeal stout (though I could see it potentially being interesting in a Foreign stout). I spoke with some local baristas about making cold brewed coffee just for drinking in the morning, and most said you should definitely opt for the darker, more robust roasts when cold steeping since less flavor is extracted than a hot brew. I made cold steep coffee out of the rest of the acidic beans mentioned above, and I didn't even really enjoy that on it's own, never mind in a beer, though it's my go-to hot coffee.

Oh...and espresso sounds like it would be delicious, too!!

I'm not sure what you mean by the other one used beans. Did you just use the beans in the boil, or did you make cold brewed coffee with the beans? Sorry, just a little confused by the phrasing.

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Re: Using coffee in stouts - what works best?
« Reply #8 on: April 03, 2015, 07:47:54 PM »
I'm really leaning toward going out on a limb and using the espresso - it's flavor is more robust than cold brewed anything, and if I don't overdo it, it shouldn't be too bitter. Any thoughts on how much to use for a 5 gallon batch?

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Re: Using coffee in stouts - what works best?
« Reply #9 on: April 03, 2015, 08:17:41 PM »
So I've tried using about 30oz of cold brewed medium roast Ethiopian into the bottling bucket of a 5 gallon batch, and the flavor was minimal, and I'm wondering if it's what killed the head retention. So I'm debating on using a dark roast espresso to being out the flavor more, but would this be ok? Do the oils kill head retention? What do you guys use?

When cold steeping, the type of coffee you use is really important. I've made two coffee stouts to date by adding cold steeped coffee. One came out pretty great and the other was bland and underwhelming.

The great one had a really dark, robust coffee (I think it was a Mexican roast) with lots of roasty flavors. The bland one used beans (Sumatran, I think) that had less roasty characters and more acidity and fruity qualities. You could definitely taste the acidity, but it wasn't really the roasty-ness I was hoping for that compliments a oatmeal stout (though I could see it potentially being interesting in a Foreign stout). I spoke with some local baristas about making cold brewed coffee just for drinking in the morning, and most said you should definitely opt for the darker, more robust roasts when cold steeping since less flavor is extracted than a hot brew. I made cold steep coffee out of the rest of the acidic beans mentioned above, and I didn't even really enjoy that on it's own, never mind in a beer, though it's my go-to hot coffee.

Oh...and espresso sounds like it would be delicious, too!!

I'm not sure what you mean by the other one used beans. Did you just use the beans in the boil, or did you make cold brewed coffee with the beans? Sorry, just a little confused by the phrasing.

Sorry for being confusing. In both instances I am referring to cold steeped coffee that I made at home. I buy the coffee as whole beans from local coffee places, grind em up, and make cold steeped coffee, which is why I'm throwing around the word "beans". I add the cold steeped coffee to the keg, to taste.

Here's a post on cold steeping coffee: http://www.homebrewersassociation.org/how-to-brew/cold-brew-coffee-adding-coffee-beer/
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Re: Using coffee in stouts - what works best?
« Reply #10 on: April 03, 2015, 08:35:54 PM »
Ah ok I gotcha. I tend to find cold steeped coffee underwhelming compared to hot, although I definitely think a darker roast would help, but region obviously makes a difference too. Anywho, espresso seems like a more intriguing approach, even if a bit more unorthodox. Just don't know how much I should use.

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Re: Using coffee in stouts - what works best?
« Reply #11 on: April 03, 2015, 09:28:31 PM »
Jon's, and countless others method of dry beaning works well too. Never done it myself, but I have had plenty of beers that have.

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Re: Using coffee in stouts - what works best?
« Reply #12 on: April 03, 2015, 09:53:05 PM »
Dry beaning? I'm assuming like dry hopping? I thought about that too, I'm just curious as to how much flavor you'd get from that.

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Re: Using coffee in stouts - what works best?
« Reply #13 on: April 03, 2015, 10:17:42 PM »
Dry beaning? I'm assuming like dry hopping? I thought about that too, I'm just curious as to how much flavor you'd get from that.

Give it a shot and see. I like several things about doing it -   1/ You cold steep in your beer. Alcohol is known to extract flavors that water doesn't (think tomato sauces made with wine or vodka).   2/  All the great coffee bean aroma is trapped in your keg (if you keg).   3/  You put the crushed beans in a fine mesh bag or dry hop canister and pull it when the flavor is just where you want it. No guesswork.  OTOH, I have had plenty of good cold steeped and dosed coffee beers.  This is what I like best.
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Re: Using coffee in stouts - what works best?
« Reply #14 on: April 03, 2015, 10:24:03 PM »
Dry beaning? I'm assuming like dry hopping? I thought about that too, I'm just curious as to how much flavor you'd get from that.

Give it a shot and see. I like several things about doing it -   1/ You cold steep in your beer. Alcohol is known to extract flavors that water doesn't (think tomato sauces made with wine or vodka).   2/  All the great coffee bean aroma is trapped in your keg (if you keg).   3/  You put the crushed beans in a fine mesh bag or dry hop canister and pull it when the flavor is just where you want it. No guesswork.  OTOH, I have had plenty of good cold steeped and dosed coffee beers.  This is what I like best.
That's a good way of putting it. Now I'm considering it. Sounds like much greater control.