Scientists Convert Used Coffee Beans Into Alcohol

Scientists have come up with a way to give coffee drinkers a new kind of buzz.

Coffee and liquor paired together is no new breakthrough –  but what happens when the coffee itself is actually alcoholic? Curious researchers from the University of Minho in Portugal developed a way to transform used coffee grounds into a palatable booze which retains the caffeinated beverage’s unmistakable aroma. Unlike coffee infused spirits or beers (which merely marry the two flavors), this 80 proof “Spent Coffee Ground” invention was created with a similar distillation method to that of rum or whiskey. Science provided specific details on the process behind what could be a popular new trend in the beverage category:

The scientists first collected [used coffee grounds] from a Portuguese coffee roasting company and dried it. Then they heated the powder in water at 163°C for 45 minutes, separated out the liquid, and added sugar. Next, the team mixed in yeast cells, let the concoction ferment, and concentrated the sample to get a higher alcohol content. (A similar process is used to produce other distilled beverages such as whiskey and rum from wheat and molasses.) And voilà! Used coffee grounds produced a new alcoholic beverage with 40% ethanol.

Professional taste testers evaluated the intensity, smell and flavors in the alcohol and commented that it tasted “bitter” and “pungent.” The researchers concluded the taste would improve with age. Unlike the now defunct Four Loko, it poses no serious health risks or increased alertness because most of the caffeine disappears in the brewing process.

University of Minho

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