Pardon this brief introduction, but there are a few things you need to know before you read this review. First, as a Lutheran Pastor, I drink a lot of coffee. To give you an idea as to how much, let’s just say that I’m in the office each day between 7:00 and 7:30 a.m. and it isn’t a stretch to have had three or four cups before 10:00 am. Second, I just gave up drinking coffee a few weeks ago in order to determine if it is a trigger for the migraines I’ve been having over the last year. Third, as you may or may not know, I don’t usually write reviews about anything other than Scotch whisky…so this is a first. And yet, when the gentlemen at Cooper’s Cask Coffee approached me and asked if I would review their product, I was intrigued for a couple of reasons, one of which is because of what it was they would be setting before me – roasted coffee beans aged in single malt whisky barrels. I just couldn’t say no. And so with that, as is my custom, a relevant story.
The door to the elevator opened. I was just about to step on board when a voice called from behind, “Hold the door, please!” I turned to see a woman waving her hand while piloting a massive motorized wheelchair. Still outside of the elevator, I stepped aside and offered a smile while holding the door so that it would not close until she was safely through.
“Thank you, Father,” she said kindly thinking that I was a Roman Catholic priest as opposed to a Lutheran Pastor. That happens a lot. Anyway…
Intending to follow right behind her, I found myself needing to step aside once again in order to allow another woman on board who was so strangely steering a similar device. Knowing that elevators have weight limits, I began to lose interest in joining this particular encumbrance traveling toward the upward heights, and so I pulled my hand from the door to let it close, having every intention of offering a smile and slipping away quietly to another elevator.
Indeed, the opposing doors moved to embrace each other when again, another voice called from behind: “Hold the door, please!” And like a Pavlovian test subject, I involuntarily threw my hand back between the doors to send them into retreat. This time it was a pair of business gentlemen, and as fate would have it, they were both of fairly grand stature. If I had to guess, one was at least 6’4” and about 300 pounds while the other was only a fraction shorter but of similar girth. Once on board, there was barely a slice of real estate near the elevator door, and I might add that the floor of this metal can (which was dangling by a wire two stories above a basement level and about to increase this distance by at least another three stories) was sagging about an inch below the current floor level upon which I was standing. Not Good.
I was not getting into this death trap.
“Come on in, Father, we’ll make room.”
“Ah, um, no thanks. I’ll catch the next one.”
“No, no, no. We’ll make room. Hop on.”
I got into the death trap. As the doors closed, I said a silent prayer to myself that the Lord would send that angel noted in Isaiah chapter 37 (you know, the one who single-handedly defeated 185,000 Assyrians in a single night) to get below the elevator and give us a little help. Apart from the prayer, in a mortal sense, the next thirty to forty seconds were spent listening to the motor and gears humming exceptionally loudly and wondering if and when the doors of the elevator opened, would I be at the third floor, or would I be peering into the gates of heaven. If it was the third floor, then I’d say goodbye to my elevator compatriots who, like me, benefitted from the answered prayer. But if it was heaven, then I was going to thank the Lord for His kindness given throughout my earthly days and then I was going to ask the first resident passerby where to get a whisky – and I’d most likely ask for The Balvenie 30 year old, since I’m pretty sure they’ll be serving that in heaven – and then I was going to ask where I might get a cup of coffee since I’d been forced to give it up while on earth.
A good whisky and a good coffee. That’s all I wanted. When the doors opened, it was the third floor. Thinking about the whisky and coffee, bizarrely, I was only half-relieved that we’d made it.
But apparently, I hadn’t been forgotten. Thus this review and its sublime timing. As if delivered by the Divine Creator, I received a message from John over at Cooper’s Cask Coffee that same week asking if I might review his product, which as I mentioned in the introduction, is essentially roasted coffee beans aged in single malt whisky barrels. After a brief email discussion, I agreed, and a few days later, the product arrived.
I opened the package that night and immediately smelled the contents. Smoky. Rich. Very inviting. I liked it. I liked it enough that I decided to go ahead and try it even though it was about 9:30 p.m. by the time I’d actually arrived home.
John mentioned in the accompanying letter that the coffee is best enjoyed by way of a press pot. I agree. This is, indeed, the best way to enjoy coffee, and so I employed my press pot, having first ground the beans to a medium fineness before adding the water.
I pumped the handle a few times over the course of a minute or so in order to allow the beans to release a little. And then I poured.
An initial nosing offered a gentle aroma, by no means overpowering. Taking in a little more, I noticed a robust vegetal smell that seemed to be precisely tempered by a lesser fruitiness. Together they formed a floral scent that reminded me of petunias, or maybe even lilies. Not unpleasant at all, in fact, because this is coffee, I found this very unique and quite enticing.
The palate was smooth and clean with very little of what some might consider the “coffee bite.” In the swallow there was a tinge of fruit syrup (or maybe even honey) that seemed to remain on the back of the tongue, which again, was very pleasant. Additionally, it was at this point that I finally met the whisky character of the beverage. There was a momentary nip of ashen oak that lifted itself up from the candied ending I mentioned before, and while they didn’t tell me in their letter which independent distillery provided the whisky barrels, I’m guessing – just guessing – that it was a bourbon cask.
The finish was short. In fact, I’m pretty sure I commented to my wife who was sitting nearby while I was writing my notes, “When it’s done, it’s done.” The smoky resonance I met in the sample pack returned near the end, but it was whisked away in moments making for a good balance and a sturdy conclusion.
Overall, I’d say that the gentlemen at Cooper’s Cask Coffee are on to something here. Be sure to visit them at www.cooperscaskcoffee.com. I most certainly will be checking in with them now and again to see what else they may have concocted – that is, what other divine combinations they might offer to an ailing soul having been nearly killed in an elevator and thirsting only for salvation, virtuous whisky, and good coffee.