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Brettanomyces in coffee?

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  • Brettanomyces in coffee?

    Im a wine person so Im pretty familiar with brettanomyces in wine - or "brett", as its usually called. Brettanomyces is a yeast spoilage in wine. It causes a range of flavours, some desirable and some undesirable. Flavours of bacon, spice, cloves, smoke, Band-aids, barnyard, horse stable, antiseptic, sweaty saddle, cheese, and rancidity can all be caused by the presence of brettanomyces in wine. It should be noted that brettanomyces is not the only casue of the above flavours.

    Once upon a time - before we knew what brett was - a lot of these brett-derived flavours were highly prized. Now that we know that theyre the result of yeast spoilage, brett is generally (but not universally) frowned upon in wine.

    Brettanomyces lives on the skin of fruit, and needs sugar and yeast and warmth to thrive. If the fruit goes through a fermentation process, all the better.

    Brettanomyces is most famous in wine, but its an essential part of some beer styles too.

    A few coffees Ive had recently have made me stop and think: is that flavour Im tasting just a peculiarity of the single origin beans used to make the cup, or is that just good old brettanomyces rearing its ugly head? I had a coffee at Auction Rooms in Melb that, were it a wine, I would have called "bretty", and another at St Ali in Melb that I would have said the same. They tasted earthy to the point of being barnyardy, and the flavours seemed to stop short.

    Do I need to re-adjust my wine-trained palate when I drink coffee? Or is brettanomyces possible in coffee?


  • #2
    Re: Brettanomyces in coffee?

    Originally posted by 34363A2735323B3B570 link=1277865468/0#0 date=1277865468
    Im a wine person so Im pretty familiar with brettanomyces in wine - or "brett", as its usually called.
    There are enough Bretts here already; can you call it something else?
    How about Mike?


    • #3
      Re: Brettanomyces in coffee?

      Was the single origin a Sumatra?

      The general processing of the beans in Sumatra in "wet hulling" where the parchment is removed while the bean is still wet. The bean is then dried.
      This processing creates a musty, earthy, ferment fruit taste.

      With most beans the parchment is left on to protect the bean while in storage. When an order is processed then the parchment is removed and the bean is shipped (generally).

      The science of processing coffee is a long way behind where wine is but is catching up. So the same thing might be happening here but we dont know yet.