So here we are on the Monday of the second week of Bourbon Heritage Month. You want to keep the celebration going, but you’re pretty sure your boss will frown upon indulging at work. Luckily there is a way to stay in the spirit of things and stay employed: bourbon barrel-aged coffee from Dark Matter Coffee. The Chicago-based roaster ages green coffee beans for about three weeks in used bourbon barrels, allowing the beans to absorb moisture from the wood. They don’t pick up any alcohol, but they do pick up flavor notes such as vanilla and caramel.
Dark Matter kindly sent me samples of their whole bean barrel-aged coffee and of Black Splash, an iced coffee that is heat extracted, then cooled and capped with nitrogen into elixir bottles.
Both of them smell heavenly. It’s coffee kissed by bourbon; kind of like an Irish coffee. I will admit here that I am one of those people who doesn’t drink my coffee black; I add a bit of cream and sugar. But I didn’t need the sugar with this – the bourbon barrel added enough sweetness, along with some vanilla. The coffee left a pleasant tingle on my lips. Later in the day I tried the elixir over ice. Again, it was nice and sweet, quite sippable.
These beans were aged in a Heaven Hill barrel. Other barrels will follow. “We have others from Koval (whiskey), Letherbee (absinthe), Virtue Cider and a couple of curve balls too,” said Kyle Hodges, minister of propaganda for Dark Matter.
The coffee is $25 for a 12-ounce bag and $9 for the 250ml bottle of Black Splash. Availability is limited. Visit Dark Matter Coffee at 738 N. Western Ave. in Chicago or on the web. You can also sign up for their newsletter to find out when new batches will be released.