A Brief History of Coffee and Booze
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2. Sauza Tequila Import Co.’s Pumpkin Spice Margarita
Now that it’s October, it’s time to put the fruity tropical drinks away and usher in Pumpkin Spice season. And what better way to do that than with a shot of tequila and the warm flavors of pumpkin pie?
For two servings you’ll need:
¼ cup Sauza Blue Silver 100% Agave Tequila
¾ cup cream
2 tbsp. Torani Pumpkin Spice Syrup
¼ cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 ½ cups freshly brewed hot coffee
whipped cream and cinnamon sticks
To assemble the margaritas:
Mix cream with pumpkin syrup, sugar, vanilla, spices and hot coffee in a saucepan and heat through. Then pour the mixture into two coffee mugs, add tequila, stir and then top each mug with whipped cream and cinnamon.
3. Occam’s Razor *
Invented by David Buehrer and Bobby Heugel of Greenway Coffee Co. and Anvil Bar & Refuge of Houston, Texas, Occam’s Razor is a coffee cocktail that really brings the heat. And this time it’s not coming from the coffee. This cocktail’s chilled and uses cold brewed coffee. The heat actually comes from the use of a hot chili tincture (grain alcohol/vodka that’s been heavily infused with hot chili peppers like habaneros.)
For one serving you’ll need:
3/4 oz. reposado or añejo tequila
1 shot fresh espresso or 3/4 oz. cold brew coffee
3/4 oz. heavy cream or half-and-half
3/4 oz. white crème de cacao
2 dashes chili tincture
Combine all of the above ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake for 10 seconds and double strain the mixture into a cold glass. You can top it with a mint leaf if you’d like. To make the tincture, just fill a jar with hot peppers like habaneros and pour high-proof vodka over it. Let the peppers soak for three days. Remove peppers and use as described above.
So we’ve seen so far that our favorite beverages have been mixing since about 800 A.D. But why stop there? Why not make a liquor from coffee instead of simply mixing the two? A team of scientists from the Institute for Biotechnology and Bioengineering at the University of Minho in Portugal, has just taken us a few steps toward making such a liquor a reality.
We spoke with lead researcher Solange Inês Mussatto Dragone about her brand new study on how to produce a distilled liquor from spent (or used) coffee grounds. Dragone’s team was able to successfully ferment and distill a liquor that contains the extracted aroma compounds of SCG within it.
Her study began with the notion that all over the world, there is an abundance of used coffee grounds with no practical purpose. Along with that Dragone and her team saw that there was a need, in the spirits industry, for the creation of new liquors made from non-traditional source materials like SCG:
“SCG is a raw material produced in large amounts in many countries and that has been practically not used up till now,” Dragone says. “Therefore, I decided to focus my research works on the valorization of this industrial residue by using it as raw material for other industrial processes. The idea of producing a beverage distilled from the SCG arose because currently there has been an increasing interest in the production of alcoholic beverages from non-conventional raw materials, and, considering that coffee is a drink very much appreciated around the world, perhaps a distilled beverage with coffee aroma could also be greatly appreciated in the beverage market.”
However, her team’s initial research hit a snag early on: They found that the sugars present in SCG were simply not enough to “produce a reasonable amount of alcohol to be distilled.” And so Dragone set out to extract only the aroma chemical compounds in SCG to create a liquor that still used SCG, but what is now a form of alcohol scented with the aroma of coffee and not simply just mixed with brewed coffee.
“Many efforts were then directed to define the conditions to be used in the extraction step. The remaining steps of the process (fermentation and distillation steps) are in general similar to those used in other processes for the production of distilled beverages. However, the fermentation conditions as well as the yeast strain used in the process were carefully selected to promote the formation of high ethanol [alcohol] amount from the SCG extract used as fermentation broth.”
The process itself, of producing an SCG-based distilled liquor, is a three-stage process: extraction, fermentation and distillation.
This process is very similar to making other forms of coffee flavored liquor. But it is the first stage, the extraction of aroma compounds from the SCGs that allows Dragone’s liquor to stand out from the pack.
According to her published study’s article, “Production, chemical characterization, and sensory proﬁle of a novel spirit elaborated from spent coffee ground,” the extraction process consisted of putting the SCG through a “hydrothermal process” which mixed the SCG with water and then heated the mixture to 163 degrees Celsius for about an hour. Afterwards, the residue left over was put into a centrifuge and spun around until the solid parts of the mixture were separated from the liquid (the SCG extract to be used in the next two stages.)
The SCG extract was then treated with a combination of sucrose (sugar), potassium metabisulfite and calcium carbonate to create a fermentation broth to which yeast would be added in the second stage, the fermentation stage.
In addition to creating a new form of coffee liquor from SCG, it was also discovered that the distillate contained 17 volatile compounds (chemicals) all of which served to enhance the taste and “[promoted] pleasant characteristics to the product.”
Dragone and her team concluded the following about their new SCG-based liquor: The SCG distillate produced at the end of the study is suitable “for human consumption.” Coffee was the dominant aroma of the distillate as expected and there was a pleasant smell and taste to the distillate. The taste is a bit “pungent” but Dragone and her team have determined that it is because it was newly produced at the time of the tasting and they assert that further improvements could be made to the taste of the distillate with the aging of it.
Though the study and production of the distillate was a success, Dragone and her research team have no intention of selling the liquor themselves, but they would be open to selling the technology to a company as “it would be a pleasure for us to see our product being commercialized.”
It’s been a long, strange trip through thousands of years worth of coffee and booze related history. From Stone Age-era beer jugs to the future of our cocktails that seemed to have been buzzed on caffeine throughout most of human history, it seems safe to say that as mankind has known these beverages separately and apart, that our love and pursuit of coffee and booze is real and runs deep and it’s not going anywhere anytime soon.
So like The Dude, just pour yourself a White Russian and enjoy the ride.