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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Coffee Corner: Aroma Infusion!

Brewing Caffe Pacori coffee infused with aroma of fresh chopped Cinnamon. 

Back in my days as barista at Coffee Corner, Eugene's first local coffeehouse chain, I would experiment with direct contact flavor infusion by sprinkling sugar, cocoa powder , cinnamon or nutmeg directly onto the packed espresso grounds before extraction. More recently it dawned on me that because of coffee's odor absorbing properties, like that of baking soda, I may be able to introduce new aromas for the coffee to absorb without covering up or destroying the coffee's own flavor.
For my first experiment I put a Punch label cigar in a giant Ziploc bag with whole bean coffees. My reasoning was, "well since a good smoke pairs well with a good black cup of coffee..." I let the two sit for about 24 hours. When I ground the beans and brewed them up the coffee had a hint of spicy tobacco leaf aftertaste that I could almost feel on my tongue. It was an interesting, unusual and fun cup to brew and taste and I could distinctly taste the characteristics of the coffee and at the same time the spicy cigar tobacco flavor was unmistakable. So in that respect my aroma infusion experiment was a success. However the combination in the cup of coffee was less than desirable, a pairing better left to the traditional puffing from the one hand and slurping your coffee from the other.

I chose Caffe Pacori coffees for my aroma infusion experiment.

My second experiment involved fresh chopped cinnamon and ground coffee as shown in the above slide show. After about 12 hours of exposing the ground coffee to the cinnamon I could barely detect any hint of cinnamon in the cup that I brewed. I brewed another cup after letting the two sit in the same container for several day, never making direct contact with each other. This time the cinnamon aroma and hint of flavor was apparent and very pleasant without covering up or distracting from the cup of coffee like a cinnamon flavored syrup or creamer would tend to do. Fun! c[__]

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