The craft spirits industry in the U.S. has been booming over the past few years, and a number of smaller distillers have turned their talents to creating exciting and unique variations on coffee liqueurs. The emergence of fair trade and single-origin coffees has led to some really dynamic collaborations between roasters and distillers, and resulted in some delicious and creative spirits that would be great in a White Russian, sipped neat, or even incorporated into desserts like custards and creams. (Pro Tip: A little drizzle over some vanilla ice cream never hurt anybody.) The Drunk Bakers of Butter & Scotch shared with us a few American distillers doing some very interesting things with coffee, each with their own particular twist.
Bittermens New Orleans Coffee Liqueur
Bittermens makes some of our favorite bitters (they are invariably somewhere on the Butter & Scotch cocktail menu at all times), and it’s no surprise that their coffee liqueur (made by Bittermen Spirits, Inc.) is intensely flavorful and rich. Brewed NOLA-style with chicory and locally sourced beans, there’s even an altruistic bonus: 50 cents is donated to a New Orleans charity for every bottle sold.
This organic distillery is Chicago’s first since the 1800s, and is known for its sustainable, eco-friendly approach to sourcing its ingredients and creating its whiskies and liqueurs. They’re known for their creative and unusual takes, with flavors like orange blossom, jasmine, and caraway. Their coffee liqueur uses organic beans sourced from a carbon-neutral facility in Brazil, and unlike most liqueurs, uses white whiskey as its base for extra depth of flavor.
Kansas City distillery J. Rieger & Co. teamed up with their neighboring coffee roaster, Thou Mayest, to create this specialty spirit that is somewhere between a sweet liqueur and a bitter digestivo. Single-origin coffee beans are cold brewed, and mixed with neutral grain spirits infused with orange, cardamom, vanilla, and bitter gentian. The whole mixture is then aged in whiskey barrels to give it smoothness and depth of flavor. This is a perfect choice for sipping neat after a rich meal.
Leopold Bros. Frenchpress-Style American Coffee Liqueur
Run by the brothers Leopold, this Colorado-based distillery is known for its eco-brewing techniques and its use of organic ingredients. For their coffee liqueur, the brothers mimic a French press by extracting freshly roasted coffee beans in their 25-liter water press, adding a touch of cane sugar for balance, then bottling the spirit while still warm to capture the freshly brewed aroma.
This indie distillery from Portland, Oregon, sources beans for its delicious liqueur from local-favorite-turned-national-sensation Stumptown Coffee Roasters. Skipping the neutral grain spirits for something a bit more flavorful, they first pot-distill fresh Barbados molasses into a funky white rum, then blend it with cold-pressed direct-trade beans.