Move Over, Craft Beer: Starbucks is Now Barrel-Aging Coffee

On Monday, March 6, Starbucks Coffee Company announced its first barrel-aged coffee, a special Starbucks Reserve offering available exclusively at its Seattle Roastery. The roastery and tasting room, located in Seattle’s Capitol Hill region, is dedicated to roasting the company’s Reserve brand coffees.

The new offering, Starbucks Reserve Whiskey Barrel Aged Sulawesi, will be available for a limited time in the form of two new specialty beverages: Barrel Aged Cold Brew, featuring the new barrel-aged variety brewed cold and sweetened with barrel-aged vanilla syrup; and Barrel Aged Con Crema, served as a pour-over with barrel-aged vanilla syrup and a cascara sugar cold-foam topping.

According to Starbucks, the coffee company’s first barrel-aged coffee is made in 800-pound batches of green coffee beans (unroasted Starbucks Reserve Sulawesi beans) and aged for several weeks in American Oak Aged Whiskey Barrels from Woodinville Whiskey, a small-batch brown spirit maker based in Woodinville, Washington.

“Exploring the potential of coffee and marrying nontraditional experiences and techniques is something we’re experimenting with daily,” says Duane Thompson of Starbucks beverage R&D. “We start with the bean first and go from there.”

After aging, the beans are roasted by Starbucks master roasters, resulting in a coffee that yields whiskey aroma and flavor, while not containing any alcohol, the company noted. (Any residual whiskey from the barrel is burned off during the roasting process, Starbucks says.)

The coffee comes at a time when consumers are seeking “an immersive, sensorial experience,” adds Thompson.

“The process takes time, care, and patience, ensuring we deliver a distinct experience that stays true to the specialness of the coffee while imparting the complementary, distinguished flavor of the oak-aged barrel,” Thompson says. “You get those earthy notes mingling with the oak to create a cup that’s unlike any other.”

Starbucks Barrel Aged Cold Brew and Barrel Aged Crema will be available exclusively at Starbucks’ Seattle Roastery for a limited time.