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Starbucks releases coffee aged in whiskey barrels

Starbucks whiskey barrel aged coffeeStarbucks is serving up a brew made from beans from Sulawesi in Indonesia that have been aged in oak whiskey barrels at its flagship Roastery store in Seattle for a limited time.

The centuries-old craft of barrel ageing has long been a source of culinary inspiration, influencing everything from sugars and chocolates to sauces and ciders.

“Exploring the potential of coffee and marrying non-traditional experiences and techniques together is something we’re experimenting with daily,” says Duane Thompson from Starbucks beverage R&D team. “We start with the bean first and go from there.”

Thompson began practicing barrel ageing as a hobby in his garage four years ago, He saw the barrel-aging technique as something that takes true craftsmanship, and he was drawn to the idea that things get better with age. 

Thompson’s passion was shared by the Starbucks Coffee team, which offered the opportunity to use a small-lot coffee from the Starbucks Reserve brand in a new way.

The Roastery’s first barrel-aged coffee starts with just a small 800-pound batch of green (unroasted) Starbucks Reserve Sulawesi beans hand-scooped into freshly emptied American Oak-Aged Whiskey Barrels from Woodinville Whiskey, Co.

Over several weeks, the beans absorb the whiskey flavour. They are hand-rotated frequently to ensure all the coffee comes into contact with the oak barrel. This process is different than the typical aging process Starbucks uses for its Aged Sumatra, which rests in burlap bags.

After the beans age, they are roasted by Starbucks master roasters. Although the intense heat of the roasting process burns off the alcohol, the aroma and flavour

The Starbucks Reserve Roastery is serving up two exclusive beverages made with Whiskey Barrel-Aged Sulawesi and its own vanilla barrel-aged syrup: a cold brew and a hot pour-over topped with cascara sugar.

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