Roasted malt adds wonderfully subtle hints of coffee to beer, but what about when you want a full-on coffee addition? What type of coffee should you use? Which roaster should you turn to? When you love coffee beer as much as we do, you need a roaster who knows their way around a cup of brew as much as we know our way around a pint of brew.
Sharing roots in St. Paul, as well as a passion for unmatched ingredients, we’ve teamed up with Backstory (formerly Bootstrap) Coffee Roasters to bring exceptional, Fair Trade Certified, and Certified Organic coffee into our beers. Since 2014, owner Micah Svejda has remained true to his company’s mission: to roast delicious seasonal coffees and offer amazing customer support. Backstory works closely with partners, producers, cooperatives, and others to globally source their exceptional coffees. They are committed to economic and environmental sustainability as well as transparency in the path from seed to cup.
Just like beer lovers and homebrewers, coffee fanatics appreciate superior ingredients because they know just how much it affects the final product. Backstory’s quality and attention to detail are showcased in all their coffees, even their decaf, which was a reason Marco Carrera wanted to become their roaster - and has been roasting their coffee to flavorful perfection since 2017.
“I came to bootstrap because I love what they do here. In fact, the reason why I started working for Backstory Coffee Roasters was because I tasted a decaf coffee and it tasted delicious and I said to myself, ‘I wanna work for a place that thinks that decaf can be great.’” Decaf coffee gets a bad rap - not only because to many, it seems pointless, but because the process of decaffeinating the beans can slightly alter the flavor and since this process adds to production costs, many companies use lower quality beans to make up for the cost. So a coffee company that puts in the level of care to create a good-tasting decaf is worth noting.
Their lineup of coffee includes both single-origin as well as blends from around the world, but one stand-out coffee holds strong year-round.
Blue Collar Blend
Choosing the right beans to perfectly compliment our coffee beers required great consideration from our brewers and their roasters, ultimately the two came together and landed on the perfect pairing: Backstory's Blue Collar Blend. Described as a hardworking blend for hardworking people and a true “coffee-flavored coffee” it is crafted to produce a chocolatey, nutty, no-nonsense coffee that is consistent year-round. These flavors are the perfect pairing to complement a smooth stout, which is why you can now find the Blue Collar blend in all our coffee stout beer recipe kits; Brunch Stout, Pumpkin Spice Latte Stout, and now Blue Collar Coffee Stout.
In our video with Backstory Coffee Roasters, Micah Svejda and roaster Marco Carrera tell us more about their coffee philosophy and process.
Tips & Tricks to Brewing Coffee Beers
As a homebrewer, you know how vital it is to hit the correct temperature range to avoid off-flavors, keep yeast happy, etc., and the same goes for coffee. Hitting the optimal temperature range for coffee (not just in beer, but for your morning brew as well) ensures the coffee beans can release a smoother flavor, rather than a harsh or bitter flavor.
After the boil, wait until your wort is cooled to approximately 200 degrees before adding the coffee grounds - staying around this temperature will extract the right flavor to bring a smooth roast to your beer.
Another note from our Head Brewer is to be sure you allow the beer to rest for a few extra days after fermentation has completed. The liquid yeasts tear through fermentation and quickly drop out of suspension - a great trait for an ale yeast, but this process can produce diacetyl, a “buttered popcorn” flavor compound. Allowing a few days for your beer to rest lets the yeast clean up the diacetyl. Once you’ve done that, you’ll have a smooth and roasty beer that’ll keep you wanting more.
Read more about coffee, beers, and coffee beers:
How to Make Cold Brewed Irish Coffee: Warm up with a traditional or cold-brewed Irish coffee. Your soul with thank you.
Java for Brewers: Northern Brewer reached out to one of our favorite local, fair-trade bean bros for his take on the latest coffee beer trends.
Expert Tips for Brewing Coffee Beer: A discussion and some recipes to wake you up and chill you out.