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We have made a few coffee beers. Once we used a cheap coffee by brewing a strong pot and adding to the boil. It turned out very acidic. The next beer we brewer we went with a little higher OG 1.070 and added 1/2 pound of Starbucks breakfast blend for the last 5 minutes of steeping the grains. That beer turned out great, but we could not taste the coffee as much as we would like. I'm interested in doing another one and I've been considering Kona coffee as it is bold but mild or chicory b/c a friend had good results. How do you make a great bold coffee beer that you can really taste the coffee but is not too acidic?

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9 Answers 9

up vote 6 down vote accepted

I would make a pot of really strong coffee in a french press or whatever (or espresso if you've got a machine). Ideally, add it to the secondary, because the primary fermentation will blow off a lot of the nice aroma.

I've done this in a stout before and used about 4 tablespoons of coffee in 1 pint cafetiere.

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2  
I second this. Use a french press, and brew it cold. That is, let the grounds steep for 4-6 hours in the press's jar before pressing. Hot-brewing coffee extracts more bitter tannins. Also, brewing in a normal drip coffee pot significantly under-extracts the flavors you're seeking. Finally, use a less-acidic coffee such as sumatra, monsoon, celebes kolossi, marogogype, etc. Avoid using highly acidic coffee such as kona or jamaican high mountain. –  JackSmith Dec 3 '10 at 13:23

I recently did a breakfast stout and simply put some ground coffee beans into the mash. I put 1 cup of ground dunkin donuts coffee in there. The coffee flavor is definitely there without being overwhelming.

You can also cold brew some coffee and add at secondary or at bottling.

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how much coffee did you add? –  CLJ Nov 10 '10 at 1:37
2  
Cold brewing coffee the night before seems to be the most popular way of avoiding acidic issues with the beans when making coffee infused beers. –  brewchez Dec 3 '10 at 12:18
    
Cold brew is the way to go as described by brewchez. I would also add that it would be best added during bottling or kegging to avoid any "stale coffee" flavors due to exposure to oxygen during secondary. I did this with an Ethiopian coffee with fantastic blueberry flavors that lasted throughout the life of the beer (in the keg). –  KRock Dec 3 '10 at 13:44
    
@KRock Do you boil the coffe after cold brewing to sanitize before adding it to the beer? –  Cleber Goncalves Sep 22 '13 at 19:57

We did an Irish oatmeal coffee stout and added 1 pot of good strong coffee right to the primary before pitching yeast. This kind of threw off any specific gravity readings, but we knew the thing was going to be strong enough anyhow.

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this seems to be the popular method. was it acidic? maybe that was just the type of coffee instead of the method used. –  CLJ Nov 10 '10 at 2:35
    
Surprisingly it wasn't bitter at all. It could be the oatmeal that evened it out. –  Mike Miller Nov 17 '10 at 18:04

Grounds can get pretty bitter in a long boil. I'd suggest adding either an extract or a good coffee liquor (I recommend Leopold Bros. if you can get it - no nasty chemicals like Kahlua). This method also lets you be really specific in the amount of flavor you want to add - draw out a cup or two from the secondary and add the extract until the balance is right, then scale the ratio up to the whole batch.

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Grind your coffee beans sometime during your boil. The later in the boil the better. Place the grinds into a muslin bag. When your boil is complete and the wort drops under 210F, hang the muslin bag of grind into the hot wort. I usually go for around 5-10 minutes. Remove muslin bag and start your chill. You definitely do NOT want to put the coffee in during the boil as it will put in all the acids.

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I use 2 methods....you can "dry bean" the beer in secondary using 4-8 poz. of coarsely cracked beans. That produces great aroma and a bit of flavor. For more coffee flavor, I add strong coffee at bottling or kegging time to taste. That's much easier to control than additions to the kettle or secondary.

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I made an Imperial Stout @ 9.2% and to steal Denny Cons term "dry beaned" one gallon of it onto 15.3 grams of coarsly ground beans for 2 days. The coffee flavor was very pronounced, and after 3 weeks was still strong. Probably helped that this was such a robust stout but it was still very potent coffee. maybe half this amount of coffe or only leave on secondary for a day.

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You can get now get in the UK at least these coffee-bags (similar to tea bags but bigger and with coffee in them). They arrive sealed in foil and ready to go. I've placed these in the mix during the entire fermentation process. Because they are nicely in a bag they just come out when its time to bottle. Sorted, and great coffee stoat.

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I made an espresso stout, where the espresso was added at bottling. I actually dissolved the sugar into the still-hot espresso; cooled it, then mixed both in. It turned out very well, with a nice amount of aroma and flavor.

Part-way through drinking it I discovered that pouring the yeast as well as the beer brings out much more of the flavor--it seems to be somewhat locked in the yeast layer of the bottle. To do this I poured all but ~1oz of beer, and swirled the bottle until the yeast had mixed into the remaining beer and poured it into the glass.

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