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Last weekend I brewed a super classic, nothing special stout. I plan to add coffee to it in the secondary, and didn't want any craziness from the stout itself so that I could really play with the coffee flavors.

I think I'm going to rack it into a bunch of growlers / 1 gallon jugs so that I can play with the coffee a bit.

I've heard that you shouldn't actually brew it, as this will add some acids and other super bitter things that you just don't want.

For this batch, I'm going for a super aromatic, super fresh coffee flavoring. But, I'm curious about coffee use in general.

Some questions I have:

  • What is a "standard" amount of coffee to use per gallon?
  • Should the coffee be ground smooth, coarse, or just the beans (unground)?
  • Should it be in a hop bag or just thrown into the mix?
  • Any other thoughts on using coffee?
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6 Answers 6

up vote 6 down vote accepted

There are a couple ways you can go about this.

  1. Just put the beans right into the secondary. You are essentially "Cold Brewing" at that point. (For about 3-4 days)

  2. Cold brew the coffee and use the syrup, and just add to taste.

Definitely stay away from brewing it first you'll end up with that burnt acidic taste.

As for the amount, this is really a judgment call as to how coffee like you want it. I've heard everywhere from 1/4lb of beans in the secondary (5gal) to approx 6 shots of espresso per gallon. I talked to the brewers at Great Divide and for the Espresso Yeti, they averaged 90 shots per keg. Of course Yeti is a bigger beer and can handle that amount. Probably would be way too much for an avg strength stout.

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A friend of mine used hot-brewed coffee in a stout. I did not taste burnt flavors. –  Dean Brundage Dec 18 '09 at 15:51
    
Well like anything else with brewing, 100 people can do it and get 100 different results. That's the great thing about it. It would be an interesting test though, if he had made 2 batches, one with brewed and one using cold brewing or steeping beans and see the difference. –  Jeff Porn Dec 18 '09 at 20:40

I have added coffee to porter in the past. The most important thing was to cold brew the coffee, which helps to not release the acids you need to be worried about as well as minimizing oils. I just ground up a bunch of coffee, put it in a clean glass jar with some water and let it sit in the fridge over night. We got the coffee from a local coffee roaster, and they recommended the lowest acidity coffee they had. The amount added was 2 cups to a 5 gallon batch. The coffee was added to the bucket right before we bottled. I forget if we ran it through a coffee filter or not, but its probably not a bad idea.

The toddy coffee maker was recommended to me a while back.

http://www.toddycafe.com/

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How strong was the coffee? Like, how much grounds per how much water? Normal strength? –  hookedonwinter Dec 17 '09 at 17:55
    
Looked through my notes. I cold brewed 1 cup of grounds in 4 cups of beer out of the fermenter the night before. –  Jordan Dec 18 '09 at 4:28

For the imp stout I bottled last night I did this:

Cold brewed 1/2 lb freshly ground coffee in a half gallon of filtered water for 48 hours. Then I boiled a grain bag and one of the paper coffee filters, then put the coffee filter in the top of my brewing funnel and put the grain bag over the top of the container with the coffee. The grain bag grabbed most of the grounds, and the sludge that was able to pass through was caught by the filter in the funnel. Then I mixed this with the hot priming sugar solution, and threw it into the bucket. Worked out pretty well, and I'll know the results in a few months :)

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That is exactly what I'm planning to do to my stout, how did it turn out? –  dzachareas Aug 3 '10 at 20:27

Well, I did it a bit differently. I did a coffee porter, 3 gallons. I put the espresso ground medium roast coffee in the mash. This stuff is like ROCKET FUEL! http://mckenna.tv/brew/?p=272 It was VERY astringent at first, but has mellowed nicely.

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I brewed a coffee stout a few months ago. I ended up using about 500 grams, and soaking it in the wort right after the boil for something like half an hour. I ended up just using decaf for most of it (70% decaf, 30% regular espresso ground) because that was what I had on hand. I think it was Starbucks, actually -- a gift from a friend leaving Korea, where I live and where decaf isn't as common.

I ground it very fine, like espresso grind, and that worked well, but if you're not planning on a secondary fermentation I'd go with a coarser grind as a certain amount of coffee grounds came through the hop bag (as expected) and settled into the bottom of the bucket. By the way it really did a number on my hop bag, staining it and so on.

Anyway, when I tried the beer after a longish secondary and a few weeks of bottle-conditioning, it was horrible, as if someone had dumped pure over-boiled coffee into a bottle of stout. I mean HORRIBLE!

However, that third week worked some kind of magic on it, and the coffee flavor mellowed amazingly well, so that the final product was actually really satisying. Everyone who's tried it has really liked it, and now while I'm abroad on holiday I wish I'd brought a couple more bottles of the stuff with me! That said, I suspect having a few bottles of the coffee stout in a row might be a bit too much: it's a bit like a dessert wine in that way.

So I think next time I'll probably try the cold infusion method, as it'll eliminate the overpowering bitterness and coffee flavoring that originally was so objectionable, and will probably allow for a greater subtlety after mellowing. But I think I'll do the cold infusion with a much bigger amount of water than some recommend. That, or I'll buy some Dutch cold-drip coffee from this place down the road, and mix that into the wort. That stuff is strong (yet mellow) enough to make up for being a smaller amount mixed into a bigger wort, I think. (And I think if I were doing all-grain, it could probably stand to be boiled like the rest of the wort without any weird effects.

I suspect the finer the grind, the better the extraction is, but if you're putting the coffee right into the wort I'd definitely plan on a secondary fermentation for clearing and so on.

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I make up a pot of coffee or two and put it in at bottling time. Two regular strength pots gives my coffee stout a very noticeable flavor. I put one pot in the last time I made the beer and it was a little weak.

I think the burnt flavors depend on the kind of coffee you use. Try using a lighter roast. My coffee stout does not have burnt off-flavors.

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