What’s Up With Coffee and Beer Together?

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Today we’re going to talk about something very near and very dear to my heart, bringing together coffee and beer. At Augustino Brewing, we are bringing the two literally together under one roof by offering gourmet coffees, as well as beers that are made in-house at our brewery, but there is something else that you may have noticed out there, which is the becoming more frequent union of craft coffee and craft beer together in the same beverage. This is mainly taking the shape in the form of coffee porters and coffee stouts, but it is even moving into other beer styles with more blonde roasts of coffee beans being utilized in even the IPAs. There’s a fantastic IPA out of stone that I would recommend you check out.

Also, you see coffee being used in, for example, in Augustino Brewing, we have a Java Latte Saison that we utilize coffee in, and we might be the only ones who do that out there. This idea of what can take on some coffee and what can’t is quickly broadening in scope because coffee beans, depending on the type of coffee that we’re talking about, and we’ll get into this deeper in future episodes of this podcast, can really enhance the complexity of a beer. I think that the idea of putting coffee with beer together has grown out of just it seemed like a cool idea and something that hadn’t been done before, and now it’s being done a lot, but there are very few breweries out there that are really putting a lot of thought into what coffee they’re adding to their beer and when they’re adding it to their beer. It’s a missed opportunity for a lot of breweries.

My theories on why coffee and beer together, I think there’s the hey, it’s a cool idea because it’s not done that much, although it’s being done very often now, but in reality, more Americans drink coffee than they drink beer. This is part of our thought process in starting Augustino Brewing because we knew there is a segment of the population that we were going to almost universally miss by just opening up a brewery, even if it’s a brewery that has fantastic food. When you come into Augustino Brewing, we want you to buy good beer and good food because we make more money that way. We were trying to think, “Well, what else can we do to provide a great experience for those who come in, into our, uh, uh, brew pub, and how can we give them more options in terms of beverages to drink?” That’s why we added coffee. The reason why we put coffee in beer then is because there’s a lot of craft beer drinkers that also enjoy craft coffee, so it made sense to put those two together.

Moreover, Americans are becoming a lot more sophisticated about their craft beers, and we can see this in the rapid growth in favoring more complex beers over the simple light loggers and pilsners and things like that. Our palates as Americans are tending to move more towards complex beer flavors, which include sours and infused beers, as well as some of the darker beers that have more richness and more roastier characteristics, and this lends itself to pulling together coffee and beer. It makes sense. I think a third one, which may be just my opinion, but I think that there is something to it that maybe having a beer that has coffee in it, which often times will have at least some caffeine extracted, that just happens even if you’re at a cold temperature when you’re doing the extraction, it’s going to pull out some caffeine, though not quite as much as if it was a hot extraction, but that the caffeine’s going to offset the alcohol so that you’re not going to get as drunk as quickly or what have you.

The fact is if the alcohol’s in there, it doesn’t matter how much caffeine is in there. You’re still going to get the alcohol in your bloodstream, so you need to make sure you’re still being just as careful about your consumption, even if it’s a beer with caffeine in it. I think it’s important. Fortunately, I think most people realize this that today’s coffee beers are not like yesterday’s Four Loko. Four Loko was a high alcohol malternative, I guess, beverage would be the best way to put it that also had a lot of just straight up caffeine added, caused a lot of problems. A lot of people had heart attacks and other health issues and eventually was just pulled from the market. I’m not even sure you can get it too many places. It may be out in California or wherever, but I haven’t seen a bottle of it in a while, but there is some truth to the belief.

By having some caffeine in there, it is going to support a sense of alertness, and that’s a pleasant thing for a lot of drinkers is to offset some of the fatigue factor that you wind up having if you’re just drinking alcohol, so that is something that I think attracts people to these type of beers, at least currently. At Augustino Brewing, we chose to leverage this belief, which is why it wasn’t just because we want to combine coffee and combine beer together in the same beverages necessarily, although we will have some wonderful coffee beers, but coffee is generally a morning beverage, and to a lesser degree, it can be for some people a dessert beverage that pairs really nice with rich dessert items, whereas beer is an afternoon and evening and a weekend beverage for many people, so since there at different times of the day, it made a lot of sense for us at Augustino Brewing to have craft coffee and craft beer. It definitely adds complexity to our business model, but it also gives us a much greater opportunity for success.

Really, just like craft beer, craft coffee is an affordable luxury. It’s something that whether I’m filthy rich or whether I’m a low to middle income individual, I can afford a beer. I can afford a coffee, even one that’s higher end beer or higher end coffee, so there’s that piece. We also look at it as the fact that by having both craft beer and craft coffee and knowing that those two worlds overlap quite a bit that we have an opportunity to bring our raving fans back multiple times during the course of a day. You can come by in the morning and get a great craft coffee beverage on your way to work or meeting with a client during the morning hours when maybe it’s a little more taboo for some people to be drinking. You can come in, still have a coffee. Then you can come back later in the evening, enjoy a fine dinner, enjoy some wonderful beers with friends and family, and then come back the next morning and do it all over again.

We think it’s a great opportunity for us at Augustino Brewing to have both of these beverages available. The reality in terms of my theories on this are the fact that it’s not so much about coffee and beer coming together. That’s just two things that are coming together. The reality is our preferences are ever evolving in terms of craft beer, just as our preferences in food are evolving. As a craft brewery or a brew pub, as we are, you need to always be looking to where the preferences are moving. The goal is always to be as a brew pub to find what niche is going to work for you and is going to work for your customers, but also be willing to change and evolve from that. With that, I’m going to thank you for listening to another episode of our podcast. Please come back and enjoy future episodes.

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