Not everyone loves coffee in the morning, but beer lovers tend to at least appreciate the “roasty” flavors that accompany their porters, stouts, and other “dark” styles. Those roasty flavors tend to include (or at least butt up against) the same flavors we get from coffee, so it’s no surprise that “coffee beers” are popular even among those who aren’t every day java drinkers. Brewing coffee beer isn’t hard – which isn’t to say that it’s as simple as throwing beans into the mash!
There’s a few right ways to do this, and at least one wrong way, and coffee can add interesting and unique flavors that you aren’t likely to get from roasted grains alone. Pick a good bean and incorporate it conscientiously and you can turn almost any beer – not just your favorite stout – into a coffee beer.
These beers belong in category 30 of the 2015 BJCP Style Guidelines, Spiced Beer – specifically, 30A, “Spice, Herb, or Vegetable Beer.” This might end up sounding repetitive, but like most specialty sub-categories the guidelines recommend “balance” as a key attribute. The special ingredient should be noticeable (“evident”), but the beer should still be recognizable as beer.