Steve Grunwell

Open-source contributor, speaker, and electronics tinkerer

Adventures in Home Roasting: “Old Fashioned” Ethiopian Coffee

This weekend I was ready for another fresh batch of coffee; I picked out a bean (Ethiopia Kaffa from the Mitchiti Coop), opened my log book, and realized this was my tenth roast (I count double-batches as a single roast in my logs)!

To commemorate the occasion, I decided to make another alcohol-infused roast; you might remember the bourbon-infused coffee I wrote about a few weeks ago, and just last weekend I roasted up a batch of Rwandan coffee using OYO Honey Vanilla Bean Vodka from Middle West Spirits, my favorite local distillery.

As Ethiopian coffee tends to have sweeter, fruitier flavors I figured I should pick a liquor to match. I toyed with the idea of doing a tropical, rub-based, Tiki-inspired coffee (though that would almost require a Kona coffee), but my half-empty (or half-full for the optimists out there) bottle of Bulleit Rye Whiskey was calling.

An Old Fashioned cocktail

Photo credit Sam Howitz.

Normally the rye is kept around for making one of my favorite cocktails, The Old Fashioned (yes, I’m aware it’s technically a bourbon cocktail). If you haven’t had the pleasure before, The Old Fashioned is a sweet, flavorful cocktail that makes it incredibly delightful to drink while still channeling your inner Don Draper.

I opted for a darker, Full City roast with the coffee and, like with my bourbon-infused coffee, dropped the hot beans into a metal mixing bowl, immediately added the ingredients, and stirred constantly for 2 minutes. For the Old Fashioned, I settled on 30mL of whiskey, a dash of angostura bitters, and a teaspoon of juice from maraschino cherries (we’ve been buying Tillen Farms cherries for cocktails to cut out on artificial colorings and preservatives).

After I laid the freshly roasted coffee out on my wax paper to cool (and to take the above photo), I could still hear the coffee popping (like Rice Krispies in milk); perhaps this was a continuation of the second crack (I stopped the roaster 30 seconds into the coffee’s “second crack”), or the coffee reacting to the mixed-in ingredients, but I’m definitely excited to try the coffee in the next few days!


…and then there were four


Review: Driftaway Coffee


  1. How was it?? That sounds awesome. Did the cherry flavors come out at all?

    • It turned out pretty well; not the most exciting cup of coffee I’ve ever had, but good enough that I’ll continue to try cocktail-inspired roasts.

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