Starbucks has officially jumped on the barrel-aged coffee wagon. The coffee gian...
Coffee and alcohol combinations are nothing new, but wine-infused coffee is a new twist on the idea. As coffee roasters experiment with coffee beans aged in liquor casks, a Napa Valley cafe has decided to forego the barrels and simply soak the coffee beans in wine for a while to help them “relax.”
Molinari Caffe introduced Molinari Private Reserve wine-infused coffee without much fanfare – but the natural buzz (no pun intended!) has made it one of the most talked-about new coffee fads this year. The novelty follows several years of beers made with coffee and a recent small explosion of new kinds of coffee liqueurs, particularly coffee Amaras. Molinari Private Reserve coffee is the result of an experiment between Rick Molinari and John Weaver, the Master Roaster behind Wild Card Roasters, another Napa favorite. Weaver provides the coffee beans, Molinari provides the wine – but there’s a lot more to it than just tossing a handful of coffee beans into a bottle of wine.
In fact, the actual process behind MPR is a closely guarded secret that took two years to perfect. The basic idea is simple enough: Molinari soaks green coffee beans in red wine until they are rehydrated, then dries them again. Weaver roasts them to perfection, and the result is a non-alcoholic coffee with rich notes of blueberry. The beans are specially selected for their flavors, and the wine is a house red made specifically for Molinari by local Napa wineries, making it a truly local collaborative coffee.
According to Molinari, different preparations significantly alter the flavor of wine-infused coffee. The French press, for example, brings out more of the blueberry notes, while adding milk in a latte or cappuccino highlights the wine flavor. And, he adds, much like wine, the coffee opens and breathes as it cools, providing a range of flavors that aren’t evident on first sip.
Currently, MPR is only available in limited supplies. It can be found at several Napa wineries, with more in the pipeline for distribution, and it will soon be served by several major cruise lines and hotels. The wine-infused coffee can also be purchased online at www.molinariprivatereserve.com – though you may find, as we did, that you’ll have to backorder it due to unusual demand.
Molinari recommends preparing MPR coffee in a French press, though it can be used to make drip coffee as well. Filtered water will bring out the natural wine and coffee flavors without adding unwanted mineral tastes.
If you’re making wine-infused coffee in a drip coffee maker, use slightly less coffee than you typically would.