Have you ever had a taste for something that you hadn’t tasted before? Does that sound impossible? What if new blends of your favorite flavors were introduced to you?
Expand your mind—it’s time to wake up the taste buds, and enrich the palate.
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“The quality is exceptional. The packaging and experience are very elegant. I really like the concept!”
Because I like my coffee, and I enjoy the taste of bourbon, my digital footprints blazed a trail for a certain online ad to follow me. At first blush, when we met, I thought it was an interesting concept, this promotion of blending coffee and bourbon. When I went down the rabbit hole, I discovered a whole new world of barrel aged coffee from Oak & Bond Coffee Company in Charlotte, North Carolina. There was Bourbon, Cabernet Sauvignon, Rye Whiskey, Scotch Whisky, and even limited edition Double Barrel Bourbon. This ad personalization catered to my tastes perfectly. I could just imagine the delicate balance of flavors between fresh roasted whole bean coffee infused with the fine essences of their aging barrels: Bourbon barrels from Kentucky; Cabernet Sauvignon wine barrels from Napa, California; and Scotch Whisky barrels from Scotland. There is also a Rye Whiskey barrel aged whole bean coffee with beans that are aged in barrels from Kentucky.
If we recall our visit to Copper Fiddle Distillery in September, we learned then from Andrew Macker (Owner/Operator) that rye costs less to produce than bourbon because rye can go into any barrel—new or used. Bourbon must go only into new barrels. I would guess that the general profile of rye might be more complex but a little less predictable than bourbon. For this blog post, I wanted to establish an accurate tasting baseline, so I decided to go with Bourbon barrel aged. This time.
I decided that drip style and chilled over ice would be the best way to taste the Cabernet Sauvignon barrel aged whole bean coffee. I thought that a hearty spin in the French press would be ideal to introduce to us the Scotch Whisky barrel aged. Finally, I returned to drip style for a piping hot session of Bourbon whole bean. With the confluence coming to a head, all three coffee blends were ready to take flight.
Lisa, my mom and I are slowly becoming coffee aficionados. We’re working our way up to maven level. I chose to have everyone taste the three coffee blends straight, then with a splash of unsweetened almond milk. Since we Americans unconsciously douse our coffee with milk, sugar, creamer, lemon, cinnamon, and so on, I just wanted to stick with a simple additive to see if it would prove beneficial or our first mistake.
First up, front and center in the photo of the flight, was the Cabernet Sauvignon. I asked everyone for their first impressions of the whole beans before tasting. My mom: “The beans are almost round. I’m surprised that the color is not so dark. It smells kind of mild.” Lisa: “The color is very rich. When we opened the can I immediately smelled the wine.” And me: “It smells of wine, light and gentle. I’m surprised that it isn’t overpowering.”
With that, we took our first sip straight. My mom: “This tastes very strong to me. I can taste the coffee and wine. There’s a kind of fruitiness. I also taste the roasted flavor!” Lisa: “I actually think this is mild. I taste a little bit of sourness, but in a bright way. This gives me the same feeling as when I drink an Arnold Palmer, not so much the taste but the feeling. There are fruity notes but it’s tempered by the sourness. I like it. For a hot summer day, this would be extraordinarily refreshing!” And me: “Whoa! I taste the sourness of the wine. I taste the grapes. I expected a heavier body but it’s very light. I like the wine background. I think chilled over ice is the best choice!”
With everything going so well so far, we took a left turn. After a splash of unsweetened almond milk, we made our first mistake. My mom: “The flavors are all gone now.” Lisa: “All the taste is gone. The undertones are muted. I think it was better without the milk in it. The subtle flavors are washed out.” And me: “Everything is blanketed. Definitely plain, and, I think, cold is the best way. To put anything over it or to have it hot would spoil it.” The good news is that we now know what to do for next time: play it straight with the Cab. The better news is: we have more Cabernet Sauvignon!
Next up was the Scotch Whisky, pictured left in the flight photo. My mom snuck a sip and was about ready to take off! I had to ground her and ask everyone for their first impressions of the beans. My mom: “This smells like booze. The beans aren’t as round. The color is light.” Lisa: “This one definitely has a liquor aroma, but it’s subtle. The beans are a much lighter color than I thought they would be.” And me: “I detect more of an alcohol background, and even a little bit of a woody character.”
We were eager to play it straight. My mom: “Oh! This is very smooth. I’m surprised by the fruity taste. It’s almost like a berry flavor. There’s a roasted taste too. Whoa, I like this!” Lisa: “There’s definitely a fruity smell. It’s very interesting. The flavor is not too strong but I definitely taste the liquor essence!” And me: “I ground this coarse for the French press. The smell is a little like booze. I find this surprisingly smooth. It’s not bitter at all. It’s almost like a tea, but there’s a boozy edge. I thought it would’ve been more sweet or spicy. The body is very light. This feeling is warm and very deep!”
A little wary, we splashed unsweetened almond milk. My mom: “I can taste more sourness with the milk. I like it simple best.” Lisa: “The milk blunts it a little but it doesn’t destroy it. It just adds a little creaminess to it, but I like it better naked.” And me: “I can taste the coffee beans more with the almond milk. I’m getting more bean experience and less Scotch. It’s a little more like coffee now and less like tea. I wouldn’t say milk makes it worse but it presents it differently.” Okay, so we toppled a few buildings but didn’t destroy the landscape. Like Godzilla in Tokyo.
“Whoa! I taste the sourness of the wine. I taste the grapes. I expected a heavier body but it’s very light. I like the wine background. I think chilled over ice is the best choice!”
Rounding out the trio was the Bourbon, depicted right in the flight picture. I asked everyone what they thought of the beans. My mom: “This bean color is the darkest. It smells a little like wood.” Lisa: “This is more earthy. I detect a cocoa like quality. The color is darker than the other beans.” And me: “I can almost smell bourbon. It has a hint of spice. The fragrance is a blend of earth, cocoa and pulp. The color of the grounds is a vibrant deep orange like a curry.”
Straight has been the way to go so far. My mom: “It’s very smooth. I don’t taste bitterness; I taste coffee mostly. I don’t need sugar or cream!” Lisa: “This tastes the most like coffee to me, but it’s still on the lighter side. I’m getting a lot of the bourbon flavor as an aftertaste and aroma!” And me: “I just smell coffee. I taste a booze hint but it’s mild. In terms of texture, this has the thickest body. As straight coffee, this has the most pure coffee taste of the three!”
We felt confident that a splash of unsweetened almond milk might enhance the Bourbon since it presented the most bold coffee experience. My mom: “This makes it mild. It doesn’t change the flavors though.” Lisa: “The more I’m drinking it, the more I notice a little sourness. I can see myself drinking this with a dash of creamer.” And me: “It’s very mild. I wouldn’t know that it’s bourbon, but I know that its booze infused. The ratios of flavors are still intact. Everything just became a little more gentle. This has a more general profile now. It would be supportive of a splash of flavor.” The Bourbon was the most receptive to enhancement!
You know I need to know like you need to know. Which coffee did we like best? My mom: “I like Scotch best because it’s very light and has an almost fruity taste with a little sourness. I can drink this straight!” Lisa: “I like all three, but from a pure coffee perspective I would pick the Bourbon. For iced coffee, I would choose the Cabernet Sauvignon!” And me: “I think chilled over ice is the best choice for Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s my favorite chilled, iced coffee. The noble profile and wine signature, I had never experienced anything like that before, and I really love it. This has the perfect balance between coffee and wine. When next summer comes, we need to stock up on the Cabernet Sauvignon. For hot coffee, I would say that I like the Scotch best. The fruitiness was unexpected. It’s mysterious and pulls you into experiencing its deep profile with spicy notes!” Horses for courses. For chilled, iced coffee: Cabernet Sauvignon. For pure coffee: Bourbon. And for hot coffee with mystery like the Loch: Scotch.
“They invest a lot of time preparing their coffee. If I want to drink straight coffee, this is my favorite coffee!”
We were excited after the flight tasting of Oak & Bond Coffee. I don’t think it was the caffeine. We were buzzed by the quality inside and out of the entire experience. I asked everyone for their opinion of Oak & Bond Coffee Co. My mom: “They invest a lot of time preparing their coffee. If I want to drink straight coffee, this is my favorite coffee!” Lisa: “The quality is exceptional. The packaging and experience are very elegant. I really like the concept!” And me, with my The Simple Luxuries perspective: “Even though this might cost a little more than your average 12-ounce bag of coffee on the supermarket shelf, it’s not expensive, and it’s far superior to the average lot. This coffee is made by people who really enjoy coffee and want to take the experience further. They’re excited about their discoveries and want to share them with everyone!” Pay it forward.
In other coffee drinking countries of the world, they drink their coffee straight. They think we are chock full of nuts to mute our coffee with all sorts of beatnik flotsam. It turns out that this isn’t a product of bad information, but bad coffee or poorly prepared beans. If we source our coffee fresh and single origin from choice regions, and we roast our coffee fresh, and we grind our beans fresh before steeping, then we serve ourselves a cup of coffee much like everyone else in the world enjoys—straight. The result is a chilled or hot beverage that is a magical hybrid of coffee as we know it and something akin to tea. The color isn’t black but a deep, dark orange. Oak & Bond Coffee Co. rests their whole beans in barrels of Bourbon, Cabernet Sauvignon, Rye Whiskey, and Scotch Whiskey so that we enjoy what the rest of the coffee drinking world is missing. I think we all just leveled up closer to coffee maven. Excuse me, but I think I hear the water hot!
To learn more about Oak & Bond Coffee Company, and to order, visit Oak & Bond Coffee Co.
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