The SOMM Journal

June / July 2015

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Page 42 of 100

42 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } JUNE/JULY 2015 { fine spirits } There's a problem with coffee liqueurs, says Alex Negranza, a professional barista who also happens to bartend at Anvil, the much-lauded Houston, Texas cocktail bar. The problem? Generally, they're awful. Made by either soaking ground roasted coffee beans in alcohol, straining and adding lots of sugar, or by brewing "cold brew" with room-temperature water and then combining with other ingredi - ents, the results are usually unpleasant. Given the unique chemistry of a coffee bean and the low-quality beans most manufacturers use, these methods tend to have the effect of extracting all the bitter qualities of the cof - fee into the water or alcohol. The results are usually thin, acidic and unsatisfying or cloying sweet. Negranza once judged in a blind tast- ing of eight "craft coffee liqueurs" and ranked all of them as "very bad." The good folks at Fratelli Branca have a solution to this problem, complete with a great story, and it starts with the inaugura - tion of the railway from Pescara to Ancona, Italy in 1860. Italian bar owner Ugo Borghetti combined his popular Borghetti's Sambuca, a star anise liqueur, with coffee to create a celebratory drink for the occasion. From this beginning sprang Caffè Borghetti, born in the "land of espresso": an exceptional diges - tif that enhances the flavor of each main component. Eventually Fratelli Branca pur- chased the brand, and with the company's characteristic attention to detail, continues to manufacture the liqueur using traditional Italian coffee-extraction methods. It's a respected process. High-quality Arabica coffee beans from South America and Robusta coffee beans from Africa are roasted in-house under careful quality con - trol, then ground and extracted to create the concentrate which will be blended with a distillate to create the intense liqueur. The method of choice is a patented device, in which hot water comes from the top and runs through the coffee, as in the traditional Neapolitan brewing method. From a techni - cal perspective, this method allows the best flavor compounds and oils to be extracted from the coffee beans, creating a sweeter, more balanced base for the liqueur. The result is an opaque, rich dark brown drink with a bittersweet classic espresso profile. "The moment you dive into this The Search for Authenticity When Kirk Gaither, Vice President of Marketing at Infinium Spirits, Caffè Borghetti's U.S. importer, first tasted the liqueur, he knew it was something special. "I was in Boston, and tasted it straight at room tem- perature. Like with a lot of the Branca products, it was an Aha! moment. It was a true departure from what we tend to expect from a coffee liqueur in the U.S." He adds that he's done competitive tasting with other coffee liqueurs, and each time is more convinced of its quality. "Once you have a great product, it's hard to go back." Gaither explains the appeal of such a traditional Italian recipe to modern consumers. "People are looking for historic, authentic products, no matter the category. They want something that is of extreme high quality with a great value, which I think we offer here. Caffè Borghetti has to be experienced to be understood, and the marketing is much more grassroots. It's just a great product." Caffè Borghetti taps into the classic cocktails trend with its timeless recipe, unchanged since 1860.

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