The Revival of Beer and Coffee
Posted on March 26th 2015 by Maddie
The complexity found in a specialty cup of coffee makes the beverage quite comparable to other handcrafted products. We have already devoted an entry relating the intricacies of a glass of wine to your morning brew, now it is time to compare coffee to another favourite, beer.
As with wine, we will see the biggest difference is beer sells as a finalized product ready to enjoy. Coffee still needs preparation, left in the hands of the consumers and there are numerous opportunities for cups to vary. Ultimately, the individual processes we use to brew our own beans appeal to our specific tastes.
In recent years, both the Craft Beer and Specialty Coffee Industries have been experiencing explosive growth. There is a collective push for the use of quality ingredients. As well as highlighting the artisanship and skill that goes into production.
Each industry's increase in their total Market Share reflects their sucess. The market share of specialty coffee has finally passed non-specialty at 51% (SCAA). In addition, this past year marked the first time Craft Breweries reached double digits and represented 11% of the share of the marketplace (Brewers Association).
The beer and coffee industries are both currently experiencing this revival of craft and artisanal production; however, that is not the only thing they have in common.
Coffee and beer are great mirrors of history; they have been around for thousands of years. Both beverages have zigzagged throughout the centuries either being exalted as nectar from the Gods to rebuked, criticised and banned.
Massive social transformations can be owed to both beer and coffee. Coffee houses spawned the creation of newspapers and the revolutionary creativity of the Renaissance era can be attributed in part to coffee. Likewise, there have been arguments that beer production is responsible for agricultural settlements, developing of new technology, and contributing to the emergence of ancient urban centers.
Thousands of small breweries brewed beer until the Industrial Revolution. Artisanal production turned to industrial manufacturing which led towards a handful of breweries controlling the market in the late 1970s. Similarly, coffee experienced the same turn during the Industrial Revolution, when instant coffee became popular and mega-corporations took to selling cuppa joes.
This leads us to the last twenty years where craft and artisanal production has returned and is slowly transforming the marketplace.
One of the huge differentiating aspects for craft production in both the beer and coffee industries is freshness. The ‘enjoy by date’ on the packaging is one of the most important pieces displayed. Ideally, each beverage should be consumed as soon as possible. Beer and coffee taste best fresh.
Both are perishable products and don’t spoil as milk would. However, find them past their expiration date and you will taste a difference.
Monitoring quality control is intrinsically linked to freshness and ultimately packaging for each product.
Two Main Enemies: Light and Oxygen
Packaging is vitally important for each beverage. The two main enemies of both are light and oxygen. Product design must take these factors into account.
Both are agricultural products and are greatly impacted by the commodities market. The resulting beverages are directly linked to the sourcing of ingredients, careful processing and handling, and meticulous production.
Coffee processing parallels in many ways with the cleaning, grading, and malting of grains for brewing.
Fermentation is a key biochemical process by which yeast metabolizes sugars to carbon dioxide and alcohol, giving beer its alcohol content and its carbonation.
Natural coffees also have a fermentation stage, which occurs and contributes to distinct fruity flavours.
Much importance is placed on the water used in brewing coffee and beer; both beverages are largely comprised of water. Therefore, the flavour is directly related to the taste of the water used.
Each type of beer and brewing process has its ideal water. Similarly, with coffee the quality of the water used can either enhance or detract from the final cup.
Many terms overlap in the description of aromas and flavours. Each industry has their own Flavour Wheel to calibrate taster’s vocabulary. Sensation is a mix of stimulation and perception.
When Two Become One
In 2012, Arrowhead Brewing Company opened their doors, conveniently right across the street from Kicking Horse® Coffee. It was only natural to reach unity in the form of the Kick Ass® Coffee Cream Ale.
On tap at the brewery, this creamy bold beer mimics a latte with its velvety mouthfeel, attributed to lactose, added to the kettle at the same time as the ground Kick Ass®. The unfermentable sugar from the lactose adds a residual sweetness and makes for a fuller-bodied pint. Our Kick Ass® compliments the organic roasted malt with its rounded earthy tones and hints of cocoa.
The result is a delicious, balanced ale with chocolaty notes and a silky smooth finish. Alcohol percentage rings in at a decent 5% ABV.
Curious about the caffeine content? We figure it to be around 0.01032% in a sixteen ounce pint!
Gemütlichkeit doesn’t directly translate into English. The German word essentially means coziness and belonging; often used to describe warm and friendly atmospheres. Perhaps the most important similarity coffee and beer share is the sense of easy community they offer.
Beer and coffee have run parallel throughout history as beverages responsible for bringing people together on common ground. Both beverages are woven into the fabric of our day, providing a platform for individuals to interact and engage with one another.
The revival of artisanal production in both industries is fueled by passion and imagination. There is a desire to produce the highest quality product, source only the top ingredients and engage with socially conscious consumers. Like any art, beer and coffee are interactive experiences that are part of a lifestyle which values the pleasure of living, of making every moment count, and every taste worth tasting.