The Best of Both Buzzes: Fermented Coffee Drink

Scientists have created a new alcohol derived from used coffee grinds, giving drinkers yet another reason to get behind the recycling movement

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If you morning coffee isn’t giving you enough of a buzz, perhaps this new coffee-based alcohol will do the trick. Scientists at the University of Minho in Portugal have stumbled upon a way to add some pizzazz to your caffeine routine by fermenting alcohol from used coffee grinds. The full findings were published online in LWT – Food Science and Technology journal this summer.

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To be clear, this isn’t quite the same as conjuring up another coffee liqueur like Kahlua. According to Science magazine, the brewing process wasn’t terribly different from most production methods:

The scientists first collected [used coffee grounds] from a Portuguese coffee roasting company and dried it. Then they heated the powder in water at 163°C for 45 minutes, separated out the liquid, and added sugar. Next, the team mixed in yeast cells, let the concoction ferment, and concentrated the sample to get a higher alcohol content. (A similar process is used to produce other distilled beverages such as whiskey and rum from wheat and molasses.) And voilà! Used coffee grounds produced a new alcoholic beverage with 40% ethanol.

But how did it taste? The researchers then went a step further and brought in eight trained taste testers to judge the alcohol-coffee mixture. According to reports, the drink smelled just like coffee and left a “bitter and pungent” taste.

Though it was drinkable, the testers recommended possibly aging the mixture to alter its flavors.

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Unfortunately, once the alcohol is produced, most of the caffeine is actually lost in the process. So until that’s fixed, you just may still have to keep doing it the old-fashioned way by adding a little something something to your morning brew.